U.S Embassy and American Chamber of Commerce Focus Supporting U.S Investment in Armenia

On June 1st, the U.S Embassy in Yerevan, in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce of Armenia (AmCham) and the Oversea’s Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.s Governemnt’s development finance institution, organized a discussion focused on attracting U.S investments to Armenia.

The workshop specifically focused on how companies and investors can work with the Overseas Private Investment (OPIC) and featured visiting OPIC staff members who explained their efforts.

A self-sustaining U.S government agency that helps U.S businesses invest in emerging markets, OPIC was established in 1971 to provide businesses with the tools to manage risks associated with investments in such economies. OPIC support for U.S investment includes direct loan financing, political risk insurance, and support for emerging market private equity investment funds that invest in emerging markets.

By fostering economic development in emerging countries, OPIC advances U.S foreign policy and national security priorities while helping emerging markets become active members of the international economy.

Opening the session the Armenian Marriott Hotel Yerevan, General Manager of Contour Global Hydro Cascade and AmCham Armenian board President Ara Hovsepyan welcomed the participants and highlighted the potential U.S investors can find in Armenia. “OPIC is a key international lender and investments facilitator that we definitely want to see supporting many businesses and investments in the Armenian market,” he said.

He added: “At present, the country is opening is opportunities even wider for foreign investment, given the recent changes in the political scene. I think OPIC should be able to find worthy projects to invest in through lending, and AmCham is read to be a partner for OPIC.”

The event– attended by AmCham member companies, local business associations and Armenian government officials–was designed to support the deepening of the U.S-Armenia trade and business relationship.

Over the past three years, U.S Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, Jr. has made deepening that trade relationship one of his top priorities. And in fact, U.S-Armenian trade grew by nearly 42% last year.

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Assembly Welcomes Members to Armenian Caucus

WASHINGTON,D.C- Working vigorously through the month of April, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) held 50 meetings with congressional offices discussing key issues of concern, including reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, U.S assistance to Armenian and Artsakh, as well as Christian and other minority communities at risk in the Middle East.

As a result of these efforts, the Assebly is pleased to welcome Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL), Steve King (R-IA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), and Steve Knight (R-CA) as the newest Members to join the Congressional Caucus on Armenian issues, bringing the total to 122 Members. “I’m proud to join the Armenian Caucus, working in a bipartisan manner to strengthen the U.S-Armenian relationship – a vital strategic partnership,” stated Rep. Crist.

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Russian Deputy FM Says Pashinyan’s Position on Karabakh as “Possibly Unconstructive”

MOSCOW – Artem Kozhin, a deputy head of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, described the position of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on the Karabakh conflict settlement as “possibly nonconstructive.”

Speaking at a news conference on May 9 in Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital Stepanakert, Pashinyan said the conflict cannot be resolved without the direct participation of its authorities in the peace negotiations, saying also that only the authorities have the right to speak on behalf of the people of Karabakh. “By and large, loud statements that do not fit into the process handled by the OSCE are possibly not constructive,” Kozhin said during a weekly briefing on Friday in response to a question from an Azerbaijani journalist.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict erupted into armed clashes after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s as the predominantly Armenian populated enclave of Azerbaijan sought to secede from Azerbaijan and declared its independence backed by a successful referendum.

On May 12, 1994, the Bishkek cease-fire agreement put an end to the military operations. A truce was brokered by Russia in 1994, although not no permanent peace agreement has been signed. Since then, Nagorno-Karabak and several adjacent regions have been under the control of Armenian forces of Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh is the longest-running post Soviet era conflict and has continued to simmer despite the relative peace of the past two decades, with snipers causing tens of death a year.

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Head of State Water Committee Denies Stealing $13 Million

The head of Armenia’s State Water Committee Arse Harutyunyan, who tendered a resignation application, denied a report in the local “Zhamanak” (Time) daily claiming that together with former prime minister Karen Karapetyan he stole $13 million.

“In my department there is no corruption. Besides, I not only refute the report claiming that I stole a large sum of money, but I also demand that it apologize and publish a repudiation,” Harutyunyan told journalists.

The daily Zhamanak quoted Arsen Harutyunyan as saying earlier in the Armenian parliament that since the beginning of the year the water level in Lake Sevan has risen by 30cm. The newspaper writes that in fact the level of the lake, when compared with the same time span of last year, in fact decreased by 13 cm.

Harutyunyan also stated that he resigned because he cannot work with the new government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

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Netenyahu Shelves Legislation on Armenian Genocide

Isreal’s Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to remove from its agenda two bills calling to recognize the Armenian genocide, Hadahot TV reported.

The Knesset recently approved a motion submitted by Meretz chairwoman MK Tamar Zandberg to hold a plenary debate on “recognizing the Armenian genocide”.

Two bills on the issue were submitted by MKs Amir Ohana (Likud) and Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) in the wake of the recent crisis in Relations with Turkey. However, the initiatives will be shelved after Netanyahu asked that the campaign against eh Turks not be escalated.

Erdorgan accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of having blood on his hands. “Netanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state that has occupied a defenseless people’s land for 60 plus years in violation of UN resolutions. He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey,” Erdogan tweeted.

Netenyahu later fired back saying, “a man who send thousands of Turkish soldiers to hold the occupation of northern Cyprus and invades Syria will not preach to us when we delivered ourselves from an attempted infiltration by Hamas.”

“Remind to Netanyahu: Hamas is not a terrorist organization and Palestinians are not terrorists. It is a resistance movement that defends the Palestinian homeland against an occupying power. The world stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine against their oppressors,” Erdogan tweeted. “What would we say if the world refused to recognize the Holocaust because of diplomatic discomfort and economic interest? If we share the denial of tragedies in history, we can never prevent those that may come in the future. I call on the government to leave political considerations aside and make the necessary historical justice,” added Shmuli.

MK Yair Lapid (Yes Atid) also responded to Netanyahu’s decision to shelve the proposed legislation to recognize the Armenian genocide, saying. “It’s time to stop groveling before Erdogan. It is time to do the moral and right thing and recognize the Armenian genocide.

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Said He Will Review the Armenian Genocide Issue

WASHINGTON – during the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the State Department’s Budget, Operations, and Policy Priorities with U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Congressmen David Cicilline (D-RI), and Brad Sherman (D-CA) both raised the subject of the Armenian Genocide.

Senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Sherman suggested that the Department of State be neutral as Congress takes up the issue of remembering, the Armenian Genocide. “I hope the State Department would at least be neutral should Congress consider – as we are considering [H.Res. 220] – the remembrance of the millions of Armenian, Greek, Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syriac victims of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the last century,” Rep. Sherman said.

Introduced by Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Representative Dave Trott (R-MI), H.Res 220 re-affirms the Armenian Genocide and draws on relevant lessons from past genocides “in seeking to prevent war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against religious and ethnic groups in the Middle East.” Last month, during the Armenian Genocide Commemoration on Capitol Hill, Rep. Trott announced that the requested H.Res 220 be scheduled for a vote before he retires at the end of this Congress.

During his questioning, Rep. Cicilline asked: “Will you, as Secretary of State, do as so many Secretary of States have not, and recognize the Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against its Armenian citizens during World War I, yes or no?” In response, Secretary Pompeo indicated that he will “review the issue”.

While serving in Congress in 2016, then-Representative Pompeo (R-KS) supported H.Con.Res 75, “expressing the sense of Congress that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.”

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Israeli Knesset Speaker Pulls Armenian Genocide Recognition from Agenda

By Lahav Harkov
Jerusalem Post – May 28, 2018

The vote on recognizing the Armenian Genocide, in 1.5 million Armenians were murdered by the Ottoman Empire during World War I, was originally set for Tuesday May 29. The expected vote on recognizing the Armenian Genocide was not on the Knesset’s agenda for this week as of Monday.

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, pulled the item from the agenda to avoid an embarrassment to the Knesset, because it was unclear there would be a majority in favor. Edelstein has repeatedly voice his support for recognition over the years including last week.

The vote on recognizing the Armenian Genocide, after a motion to do by Meretz Chairwoman MK Tamar Zandberg was approved 16-0.

Zandberg accused Edelstein of putting politics ahead of morality, dismissing the Knesset Speaker’s words in favor of her motion. “Holding this debate with a historic vote to recognize is the right thing to do. Some preferred politics to doing the right thing,” Zandberg said at a Meretz faction meeting, Monday May 28. “The Knesset should do what it promised. This is a matter of historic justice.”

Recognizing the Armenian Genocide has the potential to anger Turkey and Azerbaijan. Tensions between Turkey and Israel are already high wth the countries withdrawing their ambassadors after Turkey supported Hamas when the terror organization tried to violently break through Gaza border into Israel earlier this month. However, Israel and Azerbaijan have warm ties and the latter’s proximity to Iran makes it at strategic ally, important to Israeli security. Azerbaijan is in an ongoing conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Zandberg however, said that should not be taken into consideration.

Recognizing the Armenian Genocide, she argued “shouldn’t hurt ties with any country. This is a basic moral issue. We, the Jewish people know the value of recognizing national tragedies.”

The Foreign Ministry has not made any official statements about the Knesset recognizing the Armenian Genocide, including during last week’s vote, unlike previous years when it openly opposed such motions. However, a ministry source confirmed that ties with Azerbaijan are important and pointed out that last week both Edelstein and Zandberg said the matter of recognizing the Armenian Genocide should be discussed to its own, and not as a way to get back at Turkey.

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Gift of Hearing: Sir Elton John and President Sarkissian Kick Off Charity Mission in Yerevan

Renowned English singer Sir Elton John arrived in Armenia as part of Starkey Hearing Foundation, visited the Haig and Elza Didizian Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Yerevan with the Armenian President and Starkey Founder and CEO William Austin.

100 hearing aids were donated to children as part of the initiative. Speaking to reporters in the Yerevan My Love Foundation Office, the Armenian President said that Sir Elton John is Armenia’s friend for one simple reason, because he has many Armenian Friends, one of them being himself. “He is not only a world renowned singer but also a great intellectual who reads a lot and knows Armenia’s history very well. I remember how years ago when Catholicos Garegin I passed away, Elton wrote me a letter and we met and discussed the history of Armenian Christianity,” the President said.

Sarkissian also mentioned Elton John’s huge charitable activities in preventing HIV and helping HIV positive people in treatment.

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Pashinyan to Use Diaspora’s Potential for Development of State Institutions

LOS ANGELES – Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that the peaceful change of government in Armenia is pan-Armnenian awakening. His remarks were delivered via Skype at the University of Southern California Institute of Armenian Studies program. “Armenia Tomorrow:” Citizen Diplomacy at Work.”

It was a historic event, with a full house of close to 1200 people gathered at USC Bovard Auditorium in Los Angeles on Sunday May 20, to hear international experts’ views on the future of Armenia, as well as to listen to Prime Minister Pashinyan and Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian from Yerevan, via Skype.

As Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan appeared on the screen, the audience stood up and welcomed him with cheers and claps, as Salpi Ghazarian, director of the Institute of Armenian studies introduced the Prime Minister.

PM Pashinyan said the meaning of existence of the Republic of Armenia is to concentrate Armenia’s social, economic, financial, scientific potential or most of it in its territory and ensure the security and normal development of that potential. “Our task is to stop and tun back the millennial wheel of our people’s emigration, to make Armenia a state aimed at preserving the potential of Armenians and ensuring its normal activity. In order to reach this goal, we should reach the point that the citizen of Armenia is the highest leadership, this must be cornerstone of Armenia’s future,” PM Pashinyan asserted.

The PM also mentioned that elections were falsified and rigged and that he people should have free and honorable as well as fair elections. The citizens need legitimacy in future elections, and elected just government, he said. He added that the priority task of the new government is to become the people’s institutional power guarantor.

When Salpi Ghazarian asked how to keep the citizens engaged in political processes in the period from election to election, Pashinyan stated, “I think after these changes we have no problem of ensuring the engagement of its citizens: the most important is that the citizen fights for his/her right.”

As for the future of the Diaspora, the PM said here the issue of engagement is sometime conditioned by the provisions of the Constitution. “The Constitution says that for instance a person can be appointed as a minister who has been only a citizen of Armenia in the past four years and has lived in Armenia in the past five years. We think this regulation doesn’t reflect our national aspirations and creates artificial barriers for the engagement of the Diaspora. We plan to eliminate these barriers so that we can use the Diaspora’s potential in the process of development of state institutions,” the PM said.

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Gavin Newsom Endorsed by ANCA-WR for California Governor

GLENDALE — The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region announced this week its endorsement of Lieutnant Governor Gavin Newsom for the position of Governor of the State of California.

“I think the ANCA-WR for its confidence in me and endorsement of my candidacy to be the next governor of California,” stated Newsom. “I have valued my relationship with the Armenian-American community over the past two decades, from my days working with the small but vibrant San Francisco community, and for the past eight years, with the largest diasporan community in the word across our great state,” he continued.

“On June 5th, we strongly urge all Armenian-Americans in California to vote for Gavin Newsom as our next Governor. Throughout his political career, he has been a true friend of the Armenian community, supporting many of our efforts and listening closely to our concerns,” said Nora Hovsepian, Chair of the ANCA-WR Board of Directors. She also asserted: “The depth of his commitment and understanding of issues important to our community were demonstrated last month, when he publicly called for divestment of public funds from the Turkish Government and voiced his strong support for the Divest Turkey initiative, one of our key legislative priority.”

As one of the featured speakers at the rally in front of the Consulate General of Turkey in Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 24, Lieutenant Governor Newsom delivered a powerful message to the state and to the Turkish government, calling unequivocally, for divestment at the University of California and Cal-PERS.

Lieutenant Governor Newsom has had a long history with the Armenian-American community in his native San Francisco and has been a strong supporter of its issues beginning with his days as a San Francisco Supervisor, then as Mayor of San Francisco following his election in 2003, and as Lieutenant Governor for the past eight years.

His endorsement was made following his May 13 meeting with representatives of the ANCA-WR in Southern California. During the course of that meeting, Newsom expressed encouragement regarding the recent peaceful transition in the Armenian government, stating “The response to the populist call for reform and greater democracy and transparency is to congratulated, and among the many positive consequences is the prospect that it could help promote increased trade and interaction between the State of California, Armenia, and Artsakh.”

During a meeting last August, Newsom expressed particular interest in opportunities to further develop economic ties between the State of California and the Republic of Armenia and was, wholeheartedly in support of re-establishing a California trade office in Yerevan. His background as a successful businessman with interests in the wine industry and as a restaurant owner, in conjunction with having been a political leader in the IT capital of the world, contributes to his solid understanding of the benefits of economic development on the quality of life.

Also discussed were the recent divestment efforts from the University of California’s holdings in the government of Turkey which was initiated by the AYF and members of the ASAs on the nine undergraduate UC campuses, and from two major public pension funds – CalPERS and CalSTRS at the initiative of the ANCA-WR.

Further demonstrating his support for the community, earlier in 2017, Newsom enthusiastically endorsed his support for Karo Torossian in LA’s City Council District 7 race. Whether on the issue of justice for the Armenian Genocide, or other issues of importance tot he Armenian-American community, Newsom has never forsaken his principles, and always stood firmly in support of human rights and justice for crimes against humanity, even if on occasion, it may have put him at odds with his friends and supporters.

Mayor Newsom was appointed to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1997, representing District 2. He was first elected Mayor of San Francisco in 2003 and was re-elected to a second term in 2007.

As Supervisor, Newsom supported the sale of the Mount Davidson Cross to the Council of Armenian-American Organizations of Northern California who preserved the landmark and installed a bronze plaque at the base honoring the victims of the Armenian Genocide. “The fact that the Lieutenant Governor has always been receptive to the relatively small Armenian-American community in San Francisco, and has never hesitated to lend his support, is a testament to his genuine connection and desire to support issues of importance to us,” stated ANCA – SF Bay Area representative Haig Baghdassarian, “and he has definitely earned the endorsement of our organization and the support of our community to be our next governor.”

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