U.S House May Vote to Block F-35 Sale to Turkey

WASHINGTON, D.C — Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s amendment would prohibit the transfer of U.S defense articles to Turkey and, instead make them available to Kurdish Peshmerga forces, who have played an instrumental role in the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). Rep. Rohrabacher, who serves as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, presided over the hearings spotlighting the Erdogan ordered attacks in May.

Meanwhile, a Democratic lawmaker from Rhode Island, is seeking to block the U.S sale of Lockheed Martin made F-35 fighter jets to Turkey over an attack on protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington two months ago. Rep. David Cicilline, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, has proposed the ban as an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which was passed by the House Armed Services Committee last month. The House is expected to take up the bill and deal with amendments this week.

Turkey plans to purchase more than 100 of the F-35A conventional take off and landing variant. The country expects to received its first F-35 in 2018. Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI) has proposed a “sense of Congress” amendment disapproving of a proposed $1.2 million sale of Sig Sauer made semi-automatic handguns to Turkey. Trott had spearheaded a letter along similar lines that attracted 36 signatures, including the Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, (R-CA), and ranking member Adam Schiff (D-CA).

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$500,000 Funding Restored for Los angeles Lark Musical Society

SACRAMENTO — Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian has successfully restored $500,000 to the Lark Musical Society from the California government.

The allocation was initially included in the California State Budget of 2016-2017 by Assemblymember Nazarian. Unfortunately, Governor Brown’s 2018-2018 Budget draft eliminated the $500,000 due to budget cuts.

“I am thankful that Governor Brown and his staff took the time to listen to my arguments, and recognized the cultural importance, of Lark Musical Society,” stated Assemblymember Nazarian, “LARK can expand their significant contributions to the arts and train a new generations of musicians.”

“LARK Musical society has been serving the community for over 20 years as the ambassador for western classical music and Armenian culture. It is with great pride that we accept this endorsement from the great state of California,” said LARK Musical Society’s Chairman of the Board, Andy Torosyan. “We will use these funds to continue our service and transform Lark Musical Society into a cultural center we can be proud of. We are grateful for the visionary leadership of Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and his colleagues in Sacramento who made this possible for Lark.”

For over 25 years, Lark Musical Society has served the community in three significant ways. First, as a school for children to learn western classical music, second it has brought to life thousand of classical musical performances, and third it has published new musicological treatises and commissioned over 40 new musical compositions.

The Lark Musical Society is a collective of American musicians with a passion for great classical and folk music. Musicianship is the cornerstone of LARK’s activities, however in the last 29 years LARK has expanded to become a hub for artists practicing in all mediums.

To date, LARK has organized over 300 concert events, published 30 plus scholarly treatises and musical anthologies; produced five compact discs, hosted numerous symposia and lectures, garnered commendations and awards on the state, national, and international level, and educated hundreds of students in a wide range of musical studies.

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Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Dave Trott Spearheads Bi-Partisan Letter to Secretary Tillerson: No Guns to Turkey

WASHINGTON, D.C — On June 29, 36 members of congress, sent a bi-partisan letter, spearheaded by Armenian Caucus Co-chair Representative Dave Trott (R-MI), to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, opposing an anticipated gun sale to Turkey in light of the vicious attack by Turkey’s security detail in our Nation’s Capital against peaceful protesters, reported the Armenian Assembly of American (Assembly).

“Right here, on U.S soil, we witnessed President Erdogan’s blatant disregard for democracy as his henchmen waged a brutal attack on peaceful protesters. As the very model of freedom and liberty around the world, the United States Cannot condone such an overt suppression of democracy and this proposed arms deal would be nothing less than an endorsement of Erdogan’s henchmen brutal attack. We need to call out and hold accountable President Erdongan and his bodyguards fr who they really are – thugs.” rep. Trott stated.

Last month, President Erdogan’s bodyguards violently assaulted peaceful protesters in Washington D.C with President Erdogan just feet away, looking on as armed members of his security detail unleashed a brutal attack, targeting non-violent protesters and American Diplomatic Security Officers, and resulting in serious injuries.

On June 6th, the House of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 354, condemning the violence that took place outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence on May 16 and calling on the perpetrators to be brought to justice under U.S law.

“We can no longer enable Turkey to compromise our democratic values, and this proposed arms sale is nothing short of an endorsement of the actions of President Erdogan’s security force. As such, we strongly urge your to reject his proposed sale and any potential weapons transfer to President Erdogan’s security force. As such, we strongly urge your to reject this proposed sale and any potential weapons transfer to President Erdogan’s security detail,” the Member of the Congress stated int he letter.

The State Department notified Congress about a proposed sale of semi-automatic handguns and ammunition to a Turkish government controlled entity, authorized to import firearms to the Department of Security of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey.

In questioning earlier this month by 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 sells weapons to the very same security forces who committed the attack is currently “under evaluation.”

“We commend Congressman Trott and his colleagues for this initiative and standing up for American values in light of such a flagrant disrespect for our cherished rights,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

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American Independece Day Celebrated in Armenia

YEREVAN – On June 30th, the U.S Embassy celebrated the 241th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the United States at the US embassy in Yerevan, with a summer evening of food, jazz, and fireworks.

During the event, U.S Ambassador to Armenia, Richard Mills Jr. and guest of honor Armenian Prime Minister, Karen Karapetyan praised the close partnership between Armenia and the United States. In his remarks, Ambassador Mills noted that his year the embassy was celebrating two anniversaries, the 241th American independence and the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Armenia and the United States.

“As I reflect on the privilege and great prize of independence, my thoughts turn not just to the United States, but also to Armenia, which has accomplished so much since gaining independence in 1991,” said Ambassador Mills, “And while I can only image via historical records, what it must have been like when our founding father declared American independence, I had the unforgettable honor of experiencing first hand the birth and first steps the independence of the Republic Of Armenia.

Ambassador Mills shared anecdotes with guests about his time 25 years ago as the first American Desk officer at the U.S State Department, in charge of relations with the newly independent state and reflected on the enduring partnership and sincere friendship between the two countries. “Together we have forged strong diplomatic, development, military, commercial, and people-to-people ties over the past 25 years. Those ties form the bedrock of our relationship as we look to further deepen our partnership in the years to come.”

The Armenian State Jazz Band performed American and Armenian pieces during the party, accompanied by the American jazz vocalist Michael Mayo. Over the next two weeks, the Armenian State Jazz Band will perform in Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor, Iljevan, Meghri, Kapan, Goris, and Sisian as part of our “American of the Road” tour, the centerpiece of our year long celebration of 25 years of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Armenia and the United States.

In addition to a cultural program of jazz concerts and master classes, American film screenings, and book readings, all open to the public, we will also visit people, sites, and communities that have partnered with USAID, Peace Corps, and the Embassy over the last 25 years, celebrating the achievements and the very real difference they made in the lives of countless Armenians in support of our shared goal of a prosperous and democratic Armenia.

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$700 Million Invested by Vallex Group in Armenia’s Mining Industry

Vallex Group has invested more than $700 million in Armenia’s mining industry over the past two decades, Valery Mejlumyan, the president of the group, said last week when meeting with Suren Karayan, minister of economic development and investments.

Vallex sent more than $40 million to the government budgets of Armenia and Artsakh (Karabakh) in 2016 alone.

He also said that $400 million has been invested in Teghut copper mine and thanks to that 1150 jobs have been created and the mine has been equipped in conformity with modern standards.

The enriched capacity of the copper field was estimated yet in Soviet epoch at 450 million, of which one fifth of the resources is confirmed continues exploring the field.

The minister visited Teghat last week, He also visited a copper smelting plant in Alaverdi. This is the only copper smelter not only in Armenia, but also in the South Caucasus.

Now the plant is able to process p to 50,000 tons of copper concentrate and to produce 13,000 tons of blister copper a year.

Teghut deposit is being developed by Teghut CJSC established in 2006 by Vallex Group.

Base Metals, Armenian Copper Program, the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and Vallex IT LLC are included in Vallex Group as well.

Some 4,000 people are working for the group companies in Armenia.

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Armenia Rejected Israeli Offer to Buy Armament

Israel once offered Armenia a plan to purchase armament from its military arsenal, but Yerevan for some reason turned down the deal, a former member of the Knesset said, expressing his country’s readiness for cooperation and dialogue.

“Armenia was really offered to buy Israeli weaponry. In response, however, a former member of defense said it was very expensive and not advantageous at all. The ball is now in Armenia’s court so to speak. And we are always open [for cooperation]; should you desire something, we can discuss the issue any time,” Alexander Zinker, told reporters in Yerevan.

He added that Israel now secures an annual revenue of US $5-$6 million from military industries (as one of the world’s top five weapon supplies).

Mr. Zinker also addressed the Russian-Azerbaijani weapons deal, “Russia, which is your strategic ally, provides Azerbaijani weapons deal. “Russia, which is your strategic ally, provides Azerbaijan with more armament I think,” he noted.

The former legislator also unveiled plans for several Israeli officials” visit to Armenia in the near future. “We are scheduling the visit of Tali Ploskov, the head of the Israeli-Armenian Parliamentary Friendship Group, and several other lawmakers, from 10 to 13 September. A number of businessmen who made investments in different projects in Armenia are also expected to arrive in the country. We are eager to find interested persons to consider specific projects,” he added.

Hakob Aslanyan

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US Concerned Over Turkey’s Actions Against Opposition

The United States is concerned over Turkey’s actions against the opposition, U.S State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert has said. “When asked to comment on the arrest of main opposition Republic People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul lawmaker Enis Beberoglu, Nauert said that “they are trying to gather information. We’re concerned about he greater pattern of what we see as Turkish official actions that we believe appear to target people whose view differ from the views of certain members of the government, so that’s an area of concern, and that’s something that we just continue to talk to that government about,” Nauert said during a press briefing on June 22.

Beberoglu was sentenced to 25 years in jail for “revealing state secrets” on June 14 in a case into Syria-bound trucks of the National Intelligence Agency (MIT).

Nauert was also asked about the situation of jailed journalists in Turkey. “We continue to talk about this, and that is freedom of expression. We believe in freedom of speech and freedom of the media, even speech that some nations and some leaders find to be uncomfortable, so that’s something that the United States will continued to push for” she said.

During the press briefing, Nauert said that freedom of speech needs to be protected, whether it’s in Turkey or in other nations as well. And we continue just to urge the Turkish government to respect and ensure freedom of expression, fair trials, a judicial independence, and other human rights and functional freedoms. So we continue to say that to them,” she also said.

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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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