California Legislature Allocates $10 Million For Human Rights Curricula, Including Armenian Genocide Education Training

SACRAMENTO — The California Legislature passed AB 97, the Budget Act of 2017, on June 15, allocates $10 million to support the History-Social Science curriculum framework, as well as regional training and professional development available for teachers and administrators with an emphasis on the Armenian Genocide and other human and civil rights issues, report the Armenian Assembly of America (Armenian Assembly).

The legislative initiative was spearheaded by California State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D-CA 25), Chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education. “On behalf of the Armenian Assembly, we extend our profound gratitude to State Senator Portantino for his leadership in securing substantial funding for the recently adopted History-Social Science curriculum framework equipping educators with innovative resources in the teaching of human and civil rights, including genocide education and prevention. Senator Portantino’s achievement is a testament to his commitment in shaping human rights education throughout his legislative career,” Armenian Assembly Western Region Director Mihran Toumajian stated. “The Armenian Assembly also commends Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon for his staunch support on issues of importance to his Armenian American Constituents and to all legislators who voted in favor of the 2017-2018 budget,” he said.

A Bill Was Passed in 1985

In 1985, the California Legislature considered a bill introducing a human rights and genocide curriculum throughout the California public school system. Both the State and Assembly passed the bill in September of that year. then-Governor George Deukmejian signed the bill into law on September 28, 1985; and the new curriculum was first printed in 1987.

By 1998, however, the publication was out of print. The Armenian National Institute (ANI) brought the matter to the attention of the California. Then State Assemblymember Howard Kaloogian (R-CA 74) and then State Senator Adam Schiff (D-CA 27) requested appropriations for the reprinting of the Model Curriculum for Human Rights and Genocide is the Fiscal Year 2000 budget. The Armenian Assembly Western Region Office tool the lead in coordinating community support for the budget allocation needed to reissue the curriculum.

On April 23, 2001, California passed Assembly concurrent Resolution No. 22 to further develop a model curriculum on human rights and genocide. Resolution 22 “recommends that the State Department of Education and school districts convene workshops and teacher training seminars to introduce state educators to the curriculum” and encourages teachers “to utilize the exemplary curriculum to teach the millions of state pupils about human rights and genocide. The Armenian Assembly and Armenian National Institute have been longtime supporters of human and genocide education and assisted in creating appropriate curricula. funding to help train teachers accurately instruct students on the Armenian Genocide and other examples of genocide such as the Holocaust, the Cambodian, and Rwandan is essential,” ANI Director Dr. Rouben Adalian said.

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State Legislature Approves $3 Million for Armenian American Museum in Glendale

SACRAMENTO — The State Legislature voted to pass the 2017-2018 state budget with $3 million in new funding dedicated for the Armenian American Museum. The new funding is in addition to the previously approved $1 million for the project, bringing the State’s total commitment for the Museum to $4 million over the next 3 years. “We are honored to have the continued commitment, partnership, and support of the State Legislature for the Armenian American Museum and what is going to be a historic cultural and educational center that will make all Californians proud,” stated Museum Governing Board Co-Chair Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.

In May, Senator Anthony J. Portantino with the support of Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon and Budget Subcommittee Chair Richard Roth, invited Armenian American Museum officials to present the project to the Senate budget Subcommittee in Sacramento. The Senate Budget Subcommittee voted to approve Portantino’s request and the Budget Conference Committee adopted the Senate’s recommendation in the 2017-2018 state budget proposal, leading to today’s vote by the State Legislature.

“We are grateful to Senator Anthony J. Portantino for championing the funding request, Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon and Budget Subcommittee Chair Richard Roth for making it a Senate priority, and all of the State legislators who voted for the budget,” stated Museum Governing Board Co-Chair Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian.

The Armenian American Museum continues to work closely with City of Glendale officials on the developing project’s concept design, traffic, parking, economic, and environmental studies in preparation for the upcoming ground lease agreement consideration by the Glendale City Council.

The Armenian American Museum is a developing project in Glendale California with a mission to promote understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Armenian American experience. When completed, it will serve as a cultural campus that enriches the community, educates the public on the Armenian American story and empowers individuals to embrace cultural diversity and speak out against prejudice.

The governing board of the Armenian American Museum consists of representatives from the following ten Armenian American institutions and organization: Armenian Catholic Eparchy, Armenian Cultural Foundation, Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, Armenian General Benevolent Union – Western District Armenian Missionary Association of America, Armenian Relief Society – Western USA, Nor Or Charitable Foundation, Nor Serount Cultural Association, Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America and Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

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U.S Marshals Arrest Two Turks for Attack on Peaceful Protesters

WASHINGTON, D.C — United States Marshals arrested two Turks who attacked peaceful protesters last month in the nation’s capital, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). The Daily Caller and the State Department did not provide the names of the men arrested, but the Washington based Turkish news website Washington Hatti reported that one man involved in the attacks, Eyup Yildirim, was detained in New Jersey and will go before a judge in Newark.

In a statement to The Daily Caller, the State Department confirmed that arrests have been made. “Now that charges have been filed, the Department will weigh additional actions for the named individuals, as appropriate under relevant laws and regulations. Any further steps will be responsive and proportional to the charges,” a State Department official stated.

“The Department would like to thank the Department of Justice and the investigative agencies for their diligence,” they added. “We are committed to holding those responsible for the violence on May 16 accountable. As we have previously stated, the events surrounding the conduct of Turkish Security personnel during President Erdogan’s visit to the United States in troubling.”

Last week, the U.S House of Representatives unanimously adopted a House Resolution 354, with a vote of 397-0, which condemns the violence against peaceful protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence on May 16, 2017, and calls for measures to be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).

H. Res. 354 was spearheaded by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and calls for “the perpetrators to be brought to justice.”

In light of the vicious attacks by Turkey’s security detail last month in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence against peaceful protesters, a bipartisan group in the House circulated a letter in opposition to a proposed gun sale to Turkey The Assembly urged its members to contact their Representatives to join the bipartisan letter calling on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to stop the sale.

In questioning today by the Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the Administration’s Budget, Secretary Tillerson said whether or not the U.S will sell weapons to the very same security forces who committed this attack is currently “under evaluation.”

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OSCE Minks Group Co-Chairs Discuss Issues Related to Armenia and Artsakh

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minks Group Co-Chairs recently met with Armenian and Artsakh leaders as part of their ongoing efforts to restart Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.

On June 10, the three Co-Chairs from the U.S-Russia, and France met with Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Eduar Nalbandian in Yerevan in separate meetings, Two days later, they made their way to Stepanakert to meet with Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan for similar talks.

Azerbaijani news has responded that the Co-Chairs are expected to arrive in Baku on June 19.

The mediators gave very little detail about the meetings when they met with reporters. “France, the United States and Russia are making every effort to achieve progress on this issue,” Stephane Visconti, the Minsk Group’s French Co-Chair told reporters according to RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

The Co-Chairs will be issuing a statement following their visit to the region.

Neither the mediators nor official Armenian sources specified whether they pressed for the conduct of high-level Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations. In his meeting with Visconti, U.S Co-Chair Richard Hoagland, and Russia’s Igor Popov, Nalbandian accused Baku of continuing to ignore their calls for the conflicting parties to comply with confidence building agreements that were reached by Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev last year. He urged the mediators to take imperative action in addressing Azerbaijan’s provocative behavior. Artsakh President Sahakyan also accused Baku of violating the cease fire along the line of contact (LoC)…

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Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges Moves Headquarters from Istanbul to Yerevan

During the extraordinary General Assembly meeting of the Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchange (FEAS) held in Tehran in the middle of May, it was decided to move the Federation’s headquarter from Istanbul, Turkey to Yerevan, Armenia.

With the majority of “for” and no “against” votes, the General Assembly elected Armenia as the new host country for the FEAS’s headquarters, after 22 years of operation in Turkey, since the establishment of the Federation in 1995. Moving the Federation’s headquarters to Armenia NASDAQ OMX Armenia, who was appointed as FEAS Secretary General. His appointment was recommended by the Executive Board and approved by the majority of the General Assembly. “We are starting a new era of FEAS operation, administering the Federation from Armenia. Always being considered as cross-road of eastern and western cultures. Armenia will link different economic and political structures within FEAS, bringing success and growth to the Federation,” said Mr. Konstantin Saroyan, CEO, NASDAQ OMX Armenia.

Armenia, represented by “Yerevan Stock Exchange” (later Armenian Stock Exchange” and after NASDAQ OMX Armenia”) was among 12 founding members of the FEAS. Since November of 2016 NASDAQ OMX Armenia has also been acting as FEAS Executive Board Member. The Federation of Euro-Asia Stock Exchanges (FEAS) was established on May 15, 1995 with 12 foundation members.

The purpose of the Federation is to contribute to the cooperation, development, support and promotion of capital markets in the Euro-Asian and the Mediterranean Basin). Currently FEAS has more than 40 members, including stock exchanges post trade institutions, dealers associations, and regional federations from over 30 countries. World Bank projects 2.7% economic growth for Armenia.

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Armenia-Italy Trade Was $160 Million Last Year

Through the initiative of the Development Foundation of Armenia, and within the framework of the first Armenian-Italian Intergovernmental Commission.

The Armenia-Italy Business Forum was held in the Italian capital of Rome, in order to establish and strengthen bilateral investment and business relations. The decision to establish the Commission was made during the official visit of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Paolo Jentiloni, in November 2016.

Around 26 Armenian businessmen presented their different business plans to 170 potential Italian business partners, and highlighted the investment sectors where profitable cooperation is possible. Meetings between interested companies were held to discuss investment projects and export opportunities for Armenian products. The success stories of Italian companies Renco and Sartis were also presented in the Forum.

Now is the Favorable time; The Climate has Improved

“Now is a favorable time to invest in Armenia. The government is actively taking steps towards improving the business environment and eliminating bureaucratic obstacles. Our Foundation in particular is ready to provide practical support and consulting services to Italian businessmen at any stage of investment,” stated the CEO of the Development Foundation of Armenia Armen Avak Avakian, adding that the conference and B2B meetings were organized to present the country’s investment opportunities.

Agro-processing, Footwear, Renewable Energy, and Others

The agenda of the Armenia-Italy Forum included presentation on investment opportunities in the agro-processing, renewable energy, information and communication technology, footwear and textile, and tourism sectors.

During the forum, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Development Foundation of Armenia (DFA) and the Italian Trade Promotion Agency (ICE) which will promote further bilateral trade and economic relations. According to the Memorandum, the two parties agreed to promote the cooperation between the Armenian and Italian business sectors, and share information on business visits, exhibitions and upcoming events.

Statistics:

Armenia and Italy Trade amounted to $160 million in 2016, $32 million in Armenian exports, and $127.5 million in imports.

Last year Armenia mainly exported textile, clothing, aluminum foil, ethanol, liquor, plastic goods, automatic regulators and control devices to Italy.

The imports from Italy mainly consisted of chocolate, confectionery, pasta, fabrics, central heating boilers and oil/petroleum products. Italy is Armenia’s 17th largest investment partner.

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California Assembly Committee Approves “Divestment From Turkish Bonds” Bill

Bill Sponsor Thanks Armenian Assembly for Supporting Legislation

SACRAMENTO — The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) is pleased to report the passage of California State Assembly Bill 1597 (AB 1597), authored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-46), in the State Assembly’s Appropriations Committee comes on the heels of the bill’s passage in April 2017, with a 5-0, in the State Assembly’s Committee on Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security (PERSS), chaired by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D-52).

“I am humbled and grateful for my colleagues in the Assembly for joining with me to fight for justice for the 1.5 million Armenian souls who perished in the Genocide,” stated Assemblymember Nazarian. “If Turkey continues to fund Armenian Genocide deniers they must be financially punished,” he added.

Upon the enactment of federal law imposing sanctions on Turkey, AB 1597 would prohibit the boards of the California Public Retirement System (CalPERS) and California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalTRS) from “making additional or new investments or renewing existing investments issued, owned, controlled, or managed by the government of Turkey.”

Prior to the vote in the PERSS Committee, the Armenian Assembly submitted a letter of support in favor of the passage of AB 1597. In the letter, the Armenian Assembly emphasizes that “a vote in favor of this bill would underscore California’s long standing commitment toward the protection of universal human and civil rights, and send a clear signal to repressive regimes the world over, that California invests in countries which do right by their representative citizens.”

“I am pleased to state that the strong written testimony submitted by the Armenian Assembly of America in support of AB 1597, contributed substantially towards the positive outcome in the Appropriations process,” said Assembly member Adrin Nazarian.

AB 1597 will now be debated and voted on by the entire California State Assembly. “The Armenian Assembly of American is grateful to California Assembly member Adrin Nazarian for sponsoring and spearheading AB 1597, and salutes the leadership of the Appropriations and PERSS committees for securing the bill’s approval. The Armenian Assembly looks forward to working with Assembly member Nazarian and fellow legislators in ensuring the bill’s passage on the State Assembly floor,” Assembly Western Region Director Mihran Toumajian said.

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French Companies Show Increasing Interest in Armenia

French companies are showing increasing interest in Armenia, French ambassador to Armenia, Jean-Francois Charpentier told a news conference. According to Charpentier, Armenian-French relations needs to be upgraded.

“I have no doubt that the relations between our countries will remain as deep as they are. Our goal for today is to make them more dynamic and effective,” he said.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and France. In this connection the ambassador noted that the sides failed to achieve the desired progress on three points over the quarter of a century.

First, in his words, bilateral relations are based on stereotypes and cliches, and therefore need to be updated.

Second, as Charpentier said, over the past 25 years the French language in Armenia has lost much of its ground. However, the next summit of the International Organization of Cooperation of French-speaking countries “Francophonic” will be held in Armenia in 2018, which, in his opinion, will be a good occasion to give a boost to learning the French language in the country.

The third failure are the developed trade relations between Armenia and France, Charpentier said. At the same time, the ambassador stressed that over the past 25 years many achievements were recorded, including four presidential visits to Armenia, the conduction of Year of Armenia in France in 2006, the establishment of the French University in Armenia and the French school.

In comments on France’s foreign policy after the election of a new president, the ambassador said it will not be subject to major changes and will continue along the traditional and natural path.

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Maria Mehranian Appointed to Woodbury Board of Trustees

BURBANK –Woodbury University announced the appointment of four new members to its Board of Trustees — all women — including an emeritus member of the faculty.

Joining the Board of Trustees as new members are: Dulari Amin, Zelda Gilbert, Karen Locke and Maria Mehranian.

Maria Mehranian, Managing Partner and Chief Financial Officer for Cordoba Coporation, a full service civil engineering, construction management, and program management firm specializing in transportation, education, water, and energy.

The company has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Ana, and San Diego. For more than 30 years, Mehranian built Cordoba into one of the top engineering consulting firms in the nation — an effort cited in a case study prepared by the Harvard Business School and the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University recording her career growth and the firm’s success.

She has served on the Los Angeles Water Quality Control Board since 2008, having been appointed by Governor Schwarznegger followed by two consecutive terms appointed by Governor Brown. Mehranian chaired the Board in 2012 and 2013, and during that period negotiated mitigation measures and remediation programs with a number of oil companies while successfully building among stakeholders.

Mehranian is the President of Armenia Fund West Coast. The Woodbury University Board of Trustees serves as the institution’s primary governing body, overseeing policy, academics and appointments. Trustees serve for a minimum of three years. The addition of the four new appointees brings the number of active members to 25, plus seven trustees emeriti.

Founded in 1844, Woodbury University in one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Southern California. The university ranks 15th among the nation’s “25 Colleges that Add the Most Value” according to Money Magazine.

There are two other Armenians on the Board: Ron Altoon and Talin Fakhoorian.

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H. Res. 354 Unanimously Passes House Foreign Affairs Committee

Resolution Condemns Turkish Violence Against Peaceful Protesters

Republicans and Democrats Joined in the Effort

WASHINGTON, D.C — Thursday, May 25th, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously adopted House Resolution 354, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly), H. Res. 354 condemns the violence against peaceful protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence on May 16, 2017, and calls for measures to be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) was joined by Ranking Member Elliot Engel (D-NY), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) in introducing H.Res. 354, requesting “the perpetrators to be brought to justice.”

On the passage of H.Res. 354, Chairman Royce said: “Armed members of President Erdogan’s security detail savagely beat, choked and kicked protesters in an unprovoked assault aimed at silencing these American citizens’ right to free speech and assembly. This timely resolution sends a signal to the Turkish government that we will not allow any foreign government to stifle the rights of our citizens.”

H.Res. 354 says that “any Turkish security officials who directed, oversaw, or participated in effort by Turkish security forces to illegally suppress peaceful protests on May 16, 2017, should be charged and prosecuted under United States law.” The Resolution continues: “the United States should take steps to strengthen freedoms for the press and civil society in countries such as Turkey, and combat efforts by foreign leaders to suppress free and peaceful protest in their own countries.”

Shocked to see Erdogan’s thugs attacking peaceful protesters, Ranking Member Engel stated: “I had been invited, actually, to go to that meeting at the Turkish Embassy. I didn’t go, and I am glad I didn’t go because I was just horrified when I heard what happened…This Resolution calls for this responsible to face justice. This is a much bigger issue. We’ve seen a troubling pattern from Turkey in recent years, but if Turkish government officials come to our country and try to stifle American democracy and freedom of speech, there must be consequences.”

During the markup, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) announced that she will send a bipartisan letter with Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), to the Department of Justice and Department of State, asking for “immediate accountability from the Turkish government for these disgraceful attacks.” Rep. Ros-Lehtinen added: “This behavior is intolerable. The letter asks those involved to be brought to justice immediately with the participating Turkish personnel in the U.S expelled and those abroad barred for future entry.”

Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) commented on Turkish President Erdogan watching his security detail while they brutally beat Americans and “bloodied these people who have every right to be there protesting as U.S citizens.” He continued: “I hope he gets the message through this legislation. He is not welcome in the United States if he is going to think he can attack Americans who are expressing their opinion and are in opposition to his policies.”

Subcommittee Chairman Rohrabacher also said President Erdogan is turning Turkey into “the worst type of Islamic terrorist dictatorship that exists in the world…This is not the person we should be kissing up to. He made the situation even worse when he called the American Ambassador a few days ago, and in an arrogant insult to the American people suggested that we should in some way apologize for the brutal attack of American citizens by his own bodyguards. If he thinks this way, he is not welcome in our country.” Subcommittee Chairman Rohrabacher also scheduled a hearing of this matter entitled: “Violence Outside the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence: The Right to Peaceful Protest.”

“Turkey has been on a downward spiral under the aspiring dictator[ship] of Erdogan. Erdogan has spared no effort to undermine Turkey’s democratic institutions, and he attacks civil liberties in Turkey. Now Erdgoan thinks he can bring his, crackdown on basic rights to the United States to Washington D.C, the seat of democracy in the world.” Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) said. “This kind of vicious behavior is unacceptable anywhere in the world, but especially here in America, in Washington. D.C. That’s why I strongly support this resolution that condemns this violence and calls on our government to raise the issue with Turkey. Freedom of expression is essential to the foundation of America, and it’s clear that Erdogan does not honor this most basic right.”

Aram Hamparian Testifies at Hearing

Armenian National Committee of American Executive Director Aram Hamparian offered powerful testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, calling for a clear and decisive U.S response to the May 16th brutal beatings of peaceful American protesters by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bodyguards.

Hamparian, whose live videotape footage from the attack was shown during the hearing, explained “What [Erodgan] ordered on the streets of our capital provides a small insight — a chilling insight– into the types of violence visited every day upon the citizens of Turkey, far from out city, away from our cameras. Those are the facts. That’s where we are.

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