Foreign Investments in Armenia in the First Half of 2017 Exceed $1 Billion

Foreign investments in the Armenian economy surged by 36.6% in the first half of 2017 as opposed to the same the span of 2016 to over $1 billion, economic development and investments.

Minister Suren Karayan, after announcing the figure on Oct. 18, specified that foreign direct investments (FDI) during the reporting period increased by 26.3% year-on-year to about $328 million.

“In fact, one third of the investments are foreign direct investments, which means that foreign investors invested in the authorized capitals of Armenian companies, which are actually portfolio investments that will ensure further development,” Karayan said. According to him, Armenia is also carrying out a number of legislative initiatives to attract investors, which will help create a favorable field for them.

In this connection, the minister singled out a government approved draft law on foreign investments, which introduces redomicilation (relocation) of foreign companies, the prospect of granting Armenian citizenship to foreigners who will carry out a certain amount of investments, as well as the Law of Free Trade Zones.

Also, according to Karayan, steps are being taken to conclude agreements on mutual encouragement of investments with a number of countries, including Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Montenegro, Korea, India, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Moldova, Japan, and others.

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AGBU to Donate Medical Equipment to Military Hospital in Armenia

On October 9, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Armenia and the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia signed an agreement to which AGBU will donate two ventilators for artificial respiration and a defibrillator monitor to the Medical Department of Armenia’s Armed Forces to upgrade the intensive care unit of the Central Military in Yerevan.

The donation is part of the AGBU #HelpArtsakh campaign and is made possible by the generous support of the Cherchian Family Foundation and AGBU Marseille.

“Upgraded capacity and professionalism are the essential preconditions for the Armenian Armed Forces ability to deter aggression and promote peace. Together with the Ministry of Defense, we are proud to have the joint responsibility of strengthening Armenia’s preparedness level and cultivating leadership. AGBU welcomes all types of support from individual donors and institutions to accomplish this very important mission,” said Vasken Yacoubian, AGBU Armenia President and AGBU Central Board Member.

After the four-day war in April 2016, AGBU, as part of its longstanding humanitarian mission, launched #HelpArtsakh campaign, aiming to provide aid to the people of Armenia and Artsakh and the Armenian Armed Forces. To help the Ministry of Defense provide urgent and effective medical service, AGBU donated two mobile digital X-ray machines to military hospitals in Yerevan and Stepanakert, compressing equipment and intensive care devices customized for air transportation. AGBU also provided financial aid to families affected by the war.

In addition to medical assistance, AGBU has been helping to enhance educational capacities of the Armed Forces since 2012. It provides scholarships to cadets and officers taking leadership and English Language courses at the extension program of the American University of Armenia (AUA). Earlier this year, AGBU donated 1000 Kindles, each with over 160 books, including non-fiction and professional literature, to graduating officers and cadets.

To contribute to the AGBU #HelpArtsakh campaign visit http://www.agbu.am/en/helpartsah

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AGBU Hye Geen’s 6th Pregnant Women’s Center Opened in Charentsavan, Armenia

AGBU Hye Geen Committee announced the 6th Pregnant Women’s Center opening in Charentsavan, Armenia.

The center is already operating thanks to the tireless efforts of Silva Kardjian, Nairie Balian, Lena Hartounian, Nina Krakirian, and Vera Manoukian. These women are exemplary supporters of AGBU Hye Geen and embody the core values of the committee.

Hye Geen Chair, Sona Yacoubian, shares: “Thank you ladies, I hope others will be encouraged and come forward to enlist in our efforts to encourage our sisters in the Homeland to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.”

The centers are the brainchild of the AGBU Hye Geen committee under the leadership of Mrs. Yacoubian and her very active and dedicated group of Armenian “Geens” (women).

The first center opened its doors in June of 2002. The 15 year anniversary was celebrated with great fanfare. The centers are run by professional managers, specialized physicians such as gynecologists and psychologists, and nurses who teach self hygiene, prenatal care, as well as, post natal care.

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Sargsyan and Aliyev Agree to Intesify Negotiation Process and Reduce Tensions on Line of Contact

The President of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan and the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, held a summit on Monday, October 16 in Geneva, Switzerland, and discussed among other issues, to take measures to intensify the negotiation process and to take additional steps to reduce tensions on the Line of Contact.

Foreign Ministers, Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov, also attended the meeting, which was organized under the auspices of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the United States). The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk, also participated in the summit. The meeting took place in a constructive atmosphere, according to the statement.

the co-chairs expressed their satisfaction with these direct talks, which took place after a long interval, saying they remain ready to work with the sides on mediating a peacefully negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As a next step, the co-chairs will organize working sessions with the ministers in the near future.

Following the talks, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, met with representatives of the Armenian community of Switzerland and spoke about the results of the talks.

“The meeting with the president of Azerbaijan ended a few minutes ago. There are no concrete agreements on options for resolving the issue. However, we agreed to take steps to reduce tensions so that there are no human casualties on the front line. I must say that the president of Azerbaijan is as deeply interested in this, as I am,” Sargsyan said at the meeting hosted by the Armenian Embassy in Switzerland.

“God grant that Aliyev always think so. He too understands the complexity of the issue very much like I do, but the questions is that there will never be an easy solution. But I want to be sure of one question – there is no decision for us that can in any way violate the security of Nagorno-Karabakh. And the only solution for us is that Karabakh is outside Azerbaijan. No Armenian leader can accept and implement a contrary decision, and for that we will do our best – while developing Armenia and economically strengthening our country,” Sargsyan said.

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Armenia Endorses Under2 Coalition

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Today, the State of California and Representatives from the Republic of Armenia endorse a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to combat the rising threat of climate change. Armenia has already signed the Paris agreement but took one step further, endorsing the Under2 Coalition and encouraging sub-regions within Armenia to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions toward net-zero by 2050.

“California Governor Jerry Brown’s visionary leadership in climate change has single-handedly kept the United States an important global voice in reducing greenhouse gases,” stated Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian.

This also comes on the heels of a very successful California Legislative Delegation trip to Armenia, led by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, which discussed fighting climate change, among other issues.

“I am thrilled that Armenia has joined the campaign to combat climate change,” stated Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. “Our future economic success depends on the development of clean renewable energy. With Armenia’s addition to the growing world chorus of support for the Under2 Coalition, we will force action in Washington.”

During the recent California Delegation trip to Armenia, Assemblymembers Adrin Nazarian, Marc Levine, and Laura Friedman met with the following leaders in Armenia: Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia, Vache Gabrielyan, Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia, Ara Babloyan, Vice-Chairman of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, Arpine Hovhannisyan, Defense Minister of Armenia, Vigen Sargsyan, and other dignitaries from the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh.

Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia, Vache Gabrielyan participated in the Memorandum of Understanding today on behalf of the Republic of Armenia.

Central to the MOU is the public commitment by all signatories to reduce their GHG emissions by 80-95% on 1990 levels, or to 2 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per capita by 2050.

The Under2 Coalition is a group of ambitious governments of all levels that are combating climate change and demonstrating bold leadership. The Under2 Coalition is made up of 177 governments spanning 37 countries and six continents. Collectively, it represents more than 1.2 billion people and $28.8 trillion in GDP — equivalent to 16 percent of the global population and 39 percent of the global economy.

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New Documentary on Paramaz Premiered in Istanbul, Oct. 2

“Red,” a documentary, premiered in Istanbul on October 12, 2017, directed by Mr. Kadir Akin, about the life, views and struggles of a leader of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party, Matteos “Paramaz” Sarkissian – who was executed in 1915 along with his 19 Hunchakian comrades at Beyazit Square.

The documentary, based on the book written by Mr. Akin “Armenian Revolutionary Paramaz – Armenian Socialists and Genocide from Abdulhamid to Ittihar Terakki” examined Paramaz’s statements, ideas, and actions, along with the Armenian Question on the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent Armenian Genocide.

Among those attending the premier were” Mr. Garo Paylan, member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Mr. Alex Keushkerian, member of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party Central Committee, representatives of Turkey’s Peoples’ Party (HDP), Republican’s People’s Party (CHP), Socialist Party of Refoundation (SYKP) and Party of Labour (EMEP), representatives of various institution, intellectuals and writers, as well as large number of Turkish citizens of Armenian descent.

After thanking the audience, Mr. Akin stated the documentary will be entered into international film festivals and be shown at special screenings throughout Turkey and world.

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Kirk Kerkorian Estate Gets Judge’s OK to Donate $500 Million to Charities

A judge granted a petition by the executor overseeing the estate of the late billionaire Kirk Kerkorian to distribute $500 million of its remaining $1.6 billion in assets to charities to be picked bu a three-member committee.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maria Stratton, previously gave approval to another petition by the executor, Anthony Mandekic that allowed him and the other members of the panel–former Kerkorian lawyer, Patricia Glaser and UCLA Physician Eric Esrailian–to distribute another $200 million to charities of their choosing.

Kerkorian’s will specified that his estate be fully distributed within three years of his death. He was 98 when he did on June 15, 2015, in Beverly Hills.

“The delay and distraction from his testamentary desire and intent is due, primarily, to the efforts of certain individuals to try to extort as much money from the estate as possible…” Mandekic’s lawyers state in their court papers.

The lawyers were referring to claims by Kerkorian’s widow, Una Davis, to one third of the estate —about $600 million, based on its $1.8 billion value at the businessman’s death—and $20 million by a second woman, Vanessa Sandin.

Kerkorian and Davis were for 57 days before he asked her to leave his home, according to Mandekic’s lawyers’ court papers. Sandin maintains in a civil suit that Kerkorian befriended her before his death and promised her $20 million.

In the “unlikely event” that the Davis and Sandin claims are found to be valid, there would still be about $1 billion left in the estate, more than enough for the $500 million charity distribution, according to court papers filed by Mandekic’s attorneys.

But lawyer James Harvey, on behalf of Davis, said after the hearing that he is looking forward to seeing the results of an accounting of estate that Mandekic’s lawyers told the judge they will produce by December 20. Mandekic served as secretary treasurer of Kerkorian’s Beverly Hills based Tracinda Corp., which is the largest asset in the estate, according to Davis’ attorneys court papers.

Mandekic may have possession of about $900 million in cash after selling 34 shares of MGM though Tracinda, according to Davis’ attorneys’ court papers.

Mandekic’s lawyers counter in their own papers that the California Attorney General’s Office requested an accounting of the estate and that it will be produced under the guidelines of the state Probate Code. the attorneys also argue that Davis lacks “standing” to ask for an accounting and that her petition of “over reaching” in its scope.

Kerkorian developed key properties on the Las Vegas Strip, including MGM and MGM Grand. He also invested in and operated businesses in a number of industries, including airlines, automakers, Chrysler Corp., General Motors, and film studios. He purchased MGM Studios three times, bought United Artists and tried to acquire Columbia Pictures.

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Actor Dean Cain Focuses on the Armenian Genocides in the Documentary “Architects of Denial”

Dean Cain rose to stardom in the 1990s by playing the ultimate superhero in the ABC series “Lois and Clark”: The New Adventures of Superman.” While he has maintained a steady career in the decades since by starring in an endless assortment of TV movies and guest-starring roles in series, he has also become a real-life hero by using his notoriety to bring awareness to human rights campaigns around the globe.

Cain serves as an executive producer on the new documentary “Architects of Denial: Genocide Denied is Genocide Continued,” which focuses on the Armenian Genocide and explores how similar atrocities still afflict the Armenians and many other populations including in Sudan. Teaming with veteran talk show host, Montel Williams to help draw funding and attention to the project, he appeared with Williams and an array of stars and politicians, including U.S Rep, Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, at the film’s red carpet premiere on October 3rd, in Hollywood, prior to its opening Friday. The film was set to open at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 on Pasadena but at the last minute it was changed to Pacific Glendale 18 at the Americana at Brand.

“Neither Montel nor I are Armenian, but I was a history major at Princeton, and I’ve traveled the world and been to lots of place with Montel doing charity work for children and other charities,” says Cain, speaking by phone from Washington, DC, where he was lobbying congress to endorse House Resolution 220, authored by Schiff, which would formally recognize the Armenian Genocide and inspire faster labeling of other genocidal actions.

“We don’t agree politically on everything, but one thing we agree on is that genocide is wrong. This very fist genocide of the 20th century has been swept under the rug, hidden and whitewashed by governments because no one wants to take responsibility,” Cain said. “If you don’t acknowledge it, you allow it to continue, and the media ignores Turkey and Azerbaijan now with how they treat Armenia, plus there are atrocities in Sudan and persecution of Christians elsewhere.”

“Architects” traces the turbulent modern history of the Armenian people, from their decimation by Ottoman Turks at the onset of World War I until the present, when they are threatened by Turkey as well as its ally Azerbaijan. It chronicles the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and includes interviews with its survivors, who detail the horrors they or their family members had experienced, and experts, who graphically illustrate the real connection between its historical denial with present-day mass extermination in conflict zones around the world.

While Cain and Williams don’t appear in “Architects,” they are in the midst of producing and appearing in another documentary in which they have conducted on camera interviews with Syrian Armenians, the Armenian President, foreign minister and prime minister. The focus of that film is to show how the lives of many Armenian families have come full circle from fleeing into Syria nearly 100 years ago, only to flee back now because of persecution from Muslin extremists in that nation.

“This is the first time anyone has put together one huge statement of how familial relations are affected by genocides and refugee situations around the planet,” says Cain. “[Wikileaks founder] Julian Assange has not given interviews on this subject, and we specifically ask congressmen on camera about their denial that the Armenian Genocide took place, after they’ve taken money from Turkish lobbyists.”

With more than 100 congressional sponsors of House Resolution 220 already lined up, Cain feels optimistic that his efforts will pay off soon with a vote. But he also notes that there will always be another place in need of some help. “This has gone on throughout history, but modern travel and technology has given us the tools to monitor and stop genocidal actions faster than before,” says Cain. “I’ve spent the last few days educating congressmen on the issue, and they seem receptive. We’ll see if we can get it done.”

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Armenia Startup Academy: New Opportunities for Startups

On October 16, the Armenian Startup Academy will be launched in Armenia, which aims to develop the Armenian start-up ecosystem by utilizing necessary knowledge an experience, and create and environment where global level technology start-ups will be born. It will help start-ups to create products that are really needed and for which people are willing to pay.

The Academy is one of the initiatives of the Catalyst Foundation created by Smart-GateVC’s founders. It is implemented within the framework of the SMEDA program funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and supported by the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ).

Up to 15 start-ups will be selected based on online applications and interviews. The duration of this educational program is twelve weeks. The first four weeks are intended for clarifying internal and external factors associated with start-ups. During that time, the discussions topics will include work efficiency of the founders, options to improve product quality, the market and potential investors.

During the following four weeks, the market will be selected and developed, and by the end, start-up’s strategy of “going to market” will be ready. Many factors will be taken into account: potential accelerators in the given market, user behavior, prospects of product development in the given market, etc.

The last four weeks are for preparing for market validation. It is anticipated that, at the end of the program, startups will continue to operate for some time in the already chosen market or will be included in some global accelerator to clarify the existing business assumptions.

Armenia Startup Academy is based on some of the programs used in Silicon Valley, which have been developed and adapted to the Armenian reality. Some entrepreneurs from the diaspora expressed willingness to support the project. Many of them will be involved in the program as mentors or simply help with their advice.

The program is primarily intended for selected start-ups, but public events will be open to all. There are no restrictions on participation. It is envisaged that participants will spend most of the day in a special co-working area, which will also include meeting rooms.

Mentors, trainers, instructors, entrepreneurial assistants will work in the Academy, conveying their expertise and knowledge on specific areas, Invited speakers will lecture on a variety of topics. Five priority areas have been identified: Growth hacking, product analytics, customer development, sales, communications and culture. Within several weeks, these topics have been thoroughly studies by previously selected seven young professionals, who will now pass their knowledge to star-ups. One of the important opportunities offered by the Academy will be the use of customer development tracking methodology.

Due to this approach, which is accessible to few, it is possible to clarify the customer segment, value proposition, and optimize sales channels.

Co-founder of SmartGateVC, Hambardzum Kaghketsyan, says the Academy’s educational program is intended not only for providing theoretical and practical knowledge, but also for making start-ups as ready as possible from the perspective of investors. “Venture investors, before making a decision, check then possible aspects of the start-up. There are technical, market, financial, legal, team, customer-related and other due diligence processes. Our program includes relevant topics to address each of these ten aspects every week,” Hambardzum says.

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Rep. Frank Pallone Stresses Artsakh’s Self-Determination After Visit

WASHINGTON, D.C — Representative Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ-06) stressed Artsakh’s status as a full functioning state after visiting the nation on September 18th in conjunction with an exchange of U.S and Armenian MPs.

The Congressman helicoptered to Artsakh with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) in the morning, stopped in Shushi to visit a technical school, then drove to Steppanakert to address the Artsakh Parliament, followed by lunch with the speaker. He met with the President of Artsakh the day before and received a medal form the government in conjunction with his efforts to recognize Artsakh as an independent republic.

Pallone said that Artsakh deserves international recognition because it legally separated from the Soviet Union, by exercising its self-determination with a referendum. It then defended itself in a difficult war and proceeded to set-up a democracy which exercises transparency and has achieved a level of economic development that is remarkable given the forces aligned against the country.

“Shushi is being transformed in one generation from a city that was mostly destroyed to one that has roads, housing, and schools that are modern and up to date. A lot of this is with the help of the Armenian Diaspora. I visited a technical school financed primarily by French philanthropists. The students are eagerly learning building and construction trades that will be important to the continued redevelopment of Artsakh. Its facilities and equipment were similar to school in the U.S,” Pallone said.

“Stepanakert, looks almost completely rebuilt from the time of the Artsakh War. The Parliament is housed in a new building. Construction continues throughout the city with a new landmark church and completed hospital. I addressed the parliament and met with the speaker separately about the need for the U.S to play a large role in the Minsk process. The settlement must guarantee that Artsakh remain Armenian as an independent nation or part of Armenia. We also discussed the extent to which Azerbaijan continues its military buildup with its oil reserves and receives advanced equipment from other countries.

“The Armenian Caucus members intend to follow up in Congress to see how we can cut off assistance to Azerbaijan, as long as they continue military action against Artsakh. We will push for conference building measures with Azerbaijan that might prevent an unintended war. We will also seek continued U.S aid to eliminate land mines and promote economic development in Artsakh,” Pallone concluded.

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