Rightwing Turkish Politician Mustafa Destici Calls for Expulsion of Armenian Migrants

A far-right Turkish politician wants his government to expel tens of thousands of Armenian nationals residing in Turkey in retaliation against France for declaring a remembrance day for victims of the World War I era genocide of Armenians. President Emmanuel Macron said this week, France would mark April 24th as a “national day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide.” Turkey’s government, which denies the killing amounted to a genocide, has vigorously condemned the decision. “There are 100,000 Armenians here who came from Armenia and are illegally filling their stomachs. I’m saying we should expel them. Why are we letting them stay? While they lobby against Turkey, we continue to feed them,” Mustafa Destici, who leads the small Great Unity Party (BBP), said at a campaign rally on February 7th. Destici’s hardline party only receives a few hundred thousand votes in Turkish elections but retains an outsized influence at a time of heightened nationalism in Turkey. In June, BBP joined President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s electoral alliance, along with a larger rightwing group, in parliamentary and presidential polls, earning one seat in parliament.

Erdogan has in the past suggested kicking out undocumented Armenian nationals in response to moves by other nations to recognize the genocide. In 2015, he said Turkey could “deport” them if it wished, evoking the Ottoman Empire’s deportation of hundreds of Armenians to the Syrian desert during World War I.

Destici’s remarks were unlikely to spar any concrete action, but illustrate rising nationalist sentiment during a severe economic downturn in Turkey, which also hosts four million Syrian and Iraqi refugees, as well as hundreds of thousands of migrants from Africa, the Middle East, and beyond.

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Police Investigating Turkish Flags Hung Over Two Armenian Schools in the San Fernando Valley

Police are investigating the appearance of Turkish flags at two Armenian private schools in the San Fernando Valley as a possible hate crime, officials said. The flags were hanging at the Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School on 5300 White Oak Avenue in the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles and the AGBU Manoogian-Dermirdjian School on 6844 Oakdale Avenue in Canoga Park. Photos showed three flags hanging on Ferrahian High School’s gates and a stairwell early Tuesday January 29, 2019.

Ferrahian School administrators said there was no threat to students, and classes continued as usual. Because the suspect trespassed on school property, the incident is being investigated as a hate crime at Ferrahian High School, officials said.

School administration said they alerted the Los Angeles Police Department and officers were investigating at both campuses. Some parents took their children out of school early after receiving an email from the school. “It is scary. Our kids go to private school to be safe, but look what’s going on,” one Ferrahian School parent saod. “It’s ridiculous. What do kids have to do with this?”

At the AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School, where 13 flags lined hte school’s perimeter, the incident was being characterized as a “hate incident”, since the suspect did not trespass, the school said in a Facebook post. As a precautionary measure, the AGBU school campus “will remain a closed campus until further notice,” officials said.

Surveillance footage showed a man in dark clothing approaching the Ferrahian campus at around 4 am and hanging the flags, the Armenian Genocide Committee said in a news release. The committee called the act a “hate crime.”

The years-long Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire, starting in 1915, killed around 1.5 million Armenians. Relations between Armenia and Turkey remain tense as the Turkish government continues to deny the genocide.

Community members told KTLA television that Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School and neighboring church were built by genocide survivors decades ago. In response to the incident, students at Ferrahian High School waved Armenian flags and hung them on the school railings.

At an afternoon news conference, law enforcement officials, clergy members and city officials denounced the act. “It is the equivalent of putting a Nazi Swastika on the side of a Jewish school,” L.A City Councilman Paul Koretz said at a news conference. “It is outrageous and we are not going to stand for it as a city.” L.A City Councilman Paul Krekorian said the schools are a vital part of Southern California’s Armenian-American community and called the act a “grotesque orchestrated attack.” “The city of Los Angeles will treat these cowardly and hateful acts extremely seriously,” Krekorian said in a written statement.

Mayor Eric Garcetti also commented on the incident. “Every child has a right to attend school without fear,” he said in a tweet. “The Armenian-American community deserves to know who is behind any act of intimidation, and I know that (LAPD) will not stop working until we discover who did this.”

The LAPD said extra police patrols have been assigned around the schools as the investigation continues.

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Pashinyan Speaks About Adding EU Assistance to Armenia

The Government of Armenia must be able to effectively implement the reform agenda, therefore, the ball is in the field of the Government of Armenia, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan said during the joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, answering the question if the EU will increase the assistance to Armenia. “The ball is in the field of the Government of Armenia. The recent visit of Commissioner Johannes Hahn clearly answered the question of increasing the EU assistance to Armenia. The EU representatives have already informed that they are ready to expand the assistance to Armenia”, Pashinyan said, adding that it’s obvious that good relations between Armenia and the EU, as well as Armenia and EU Member States have been established.

Pashinyan noted that important democratic developments are taking place in Armenia. According to him, there are no doubts that those developments will continue. “These democratic developments will be continuous irrespective of the existence or absence of the assistance, as I have said in the past, because democracy is the choice of our people, value system”, the Armenian PM said.

Pashinyan noted that Armenia has open relations with EAUU and EU partners. “We must be able to effectively implement our reform agenda, with confidence that we will, receive assistance both from our EU partners and EAEU partners”, Pashinyan added.

To the question of Berlin plans to increase assistance to Armenia, Angela Merkel answered, “we already support Armenia. The EU has already expressed its support through Commissioner Hahn. Armenia, as an independent country, decides on its own with which country to work. And we already have an agreement, I am about the agreement with the EU, by which Armenia can develop relations with Germany and the EU.”

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Pentagon’s Laura Cooper Praises U.S – Armenia Military Cooperation

A Senior U.S Department of Defense official praised the “selfless contributions of the Armenian armed forces to international operations and peacekeeping missions,” highlighting Armenia’s commitment to the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan and recognizing Armenia as a top-five non-NATO contributor to NATO’s Kosovo force.

Speaking at the Armenian Embassy’s January 29th celebration of Armenian Army Day, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Laura K. Cooper also shared the Pentagon’s pride in Armenia’s 15 year “enduring” partnership with the Kansas National Guard, a joint undertaking that has materially increased Armenia’s NATO interoperability. She closed her remarks by expressing her interest in visiting Armenia and exploring ways to deepen U.S-Armenia defense ties, support a free and prosperous Armenia, and work cooperatively to advance regional and global security.

Speaking on behalf of the Armenian government, Armenian Ambassador to the US, Varuzhan Nersesyan underscored the value that Armenia attaches to the continued evolution of bilateral U.S-Armenia defense cooperation. In his remarks, Colonel Arman Mkrtchyan, Armenia’s Defense Attache in Washington, DC, reviewed the full array of international peacekeeping and other regional and international security operations undertaken by the Armenian military. A large delegation from the Kansas National Guard traveled from Kansas to take part in the celebration, as did defense attaches and other military officials from dozens of Washington, DC based embassies.

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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan Holds Series of Meetings at Davos Forum

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held a series of meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos. During his meeting with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Pashinyan discussed issues of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. The parties touched upon the development of Armenian-Lithuanian political and economic relations, EU-Armenia relations, uncluding the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Pashinyan stressed the importance of soonest possible ratification of CEPA by EU countries and thanked the Lithuanian President for Completing the ratification process in Lithuania’s parliament.

The head of the Armenian government touched upon the reforms carried out in Armenian, noting that the snap parliamentary held in December were of historical significance to our country, since the polls results did not raise any doubt for the first time over the past few decades. According to Pashinyan, the international observer organizations had unanimously confirmed that the elections were free, fair, and transparent.

Grybauskaite welcomed steps taken by Pashinyan’s government toward developing and strengthening democracy. She expressed her country’s readiness to assist Armenia with the reform process.

Prime Minister Pashinyan next met with Prime Minister of Slovakia peter Pellegrini to discuss development of Armenian-Slovak relations and other issues of mutual interest. Both sides stressed the need for closer cooperation between the two governments in order to give new impetus to trade and economic exchanges. Noting that the Speaker of the Slovakian Parliament is scheduled to visit Armenia in the near future, Pellegrini said it may help expand the ties between the two countries. At the same time, he noted that the CEPA ratification is on the Slovak Parliament’s agenda, and the process will be completed soon.

In conclusion, Pashinyan held brief meetings with King Philippe of Belgium, Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez, and Georgian Premier Mamuka Bakhtadze.

Prime Minister Pashinyan’s visit to the Swiss Confederation has this concludes.

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Armenian American Museum Telethon on February 17

The Armenian American Museum will be hosting its inaugural Telethon on Sunday February 17, 2019 to raise awareness and raise fund for the historic project, The highly anticipated television event will be live broadcasted and streamed to a wide audience across the United States and around the world.

The Telethon will air on Sunday, February 17, 2019 from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm Pacific Standard Time (PST) and will be broadcast from ARTN studios in Glendale, California. The six hour television event will feature exciting interviews with community leaders and special guests, informative video segments on the world class cultural and educational center, and unique performance by musicians and artists, TV channels, program lineup, and special guests will be announced soon.

“The Telethon is going to be the must-see television event of the year for our community and it will an excellent opportunity to learn about the Armenian American Museum,” stated Museum Executive Chairman Berdj Karapetian. “We invite the community to donate to the project now and watch the Telethon on February 17.”

Proceeds from the Telethon will benefit the Armenian American Museum Groundbreaking Campaign. The Museum will need to raise an estimated $12 million by early 2020 to begin construction for the historic community project. Museum officials have organized a year-long series of events, fundraisers, and activities in 2019 to raise the necessary funds including its inaugural Telethon February 17.

The Armenian American Museum will be the first world class cultural and educational center of its kind in America. The Museum program will feature a Permanent Armenia Exhibition, Traveling Multicultural Exhibitions, Performing Arts Theater, Learning Center, and more.

The community is invited to donate now and watch the Telethon on February 17. To donate by phone, call the Museum Office toll-free at 1-800-655-9554. To donate by mail, submit a check donation payable to “Armenian American Museum” to 111 East Broadway, Suite 207, Glendale, CA 91205. To donate online visit www.GiveAAM.org to submit a secure online credit card donation.

About the Armenian American Museum

The Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center of California is a developing project in Glendale, California with a mission to promote understanding and appreciation of American’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Armenian American experience. The Museum 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 governance of the Museum to entrusted to ten Armenian American cultural, philanthropic, and religious non-profit institutions including the 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 American, and Western Prelace of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

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Michel Legrand, French-Armenian Composser Passes Away at 86

Michel Legrand, the acclaimed and prolific French-Armenian composer who won Academy Awards for his work in The Thomas Crown Affair, Summer of ’42, and Yentl, died on Saturday January 26, 2019 in Paris. He was 86.

He was born February 24, 1932. His parents were Marcelle Der Mikaelian and Raymond Legrad. In a career that spanned seven decades and 200 compositions, the arranger, conductor, and jazz pianist also scored musical soundtracks for Jacques Denny’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), John Sturges’ Ice Station Zebra (1968); Norman Jewison’s Best Friends (1982, and Orson Wells’ F for Fake (1973) and his recently released The Other Side of the Wind (2018).

Legrand’s unrivaled skill and versatility also can be heard across the full scores of Agnes Varda’s Cleo From 5 to 7 (1962), Mans (1971), Lady Sings the Blues (1972), Atlantic City (1980), Never Say Never Again (1983), and the acclaimed 1971 ABC telefilm series Brian’s Song. In total, Legrand received 13 career Oscar nominations.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his condolences to Legrand’s wife and children, hailing him as an “indefatigable genius…His unique tunes that rum through our heads and are hummed in the streets have become like the soundtracks of our lives,” he said.

Although the sole recipient of the Oscar for dramatic score for Summer of ’42 (1971), Legrand acknowledged in his acceptance speech the collaborative effort behind the scenes: “I also want to thank, you know, many people that we don’t thank very often, or not enough often to me, which are all the musicians, all the marvelous musicians that you have in California.”

For Barbra Streisand’s Yentl, Legrand received Oscar nominations for the songs “The Way He Makes Me Feel” and “Papa Can Youy Hear Me?” and for its score. Legrand collaborated with other giants of the industry, including Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne, and Frank Sinatra. In 2010, he celebrated 50 years in show business with a star-studded tribute at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Along with his Academy Award, Legrand won a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and give Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1990. “Ever since I was a boy, my ambition has been to live completely surrounded by music. My dream is not to muss out on anything. That’s why I’ve never settled on one musical discipline,” he wrote on his website. “I love playing, conducting, singing, and writing, and in all styles. So I turn my hand to everything. Quite the opposite. I do all these activities at once, seriously, sincerely and with deep commitment.”

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Trump and UN Secretary Guterres Praise Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan

Trump among many other World Leaders, has issued congratulations to Nikol Pashinyan on his reappointment as the prime minister of Armenia. Trump’s message is as follows:

“Dear Mr. Prime Minister: Congratulations on your appointment as Prime Minister of Armenia and your coalition’s success in the December 9th, 2018 parliamentary elections. The United States supports a prosperous, democratic Armenia at peace with its neighbors. Together, we can make progress on deepening trade between our countries, strengthening global security, and combating corruption. A peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will help these efforts. Best wishes to you and the people of Armenia.”

UN Secretary

On January 19, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has sent a congratulatory message to PM Nikol Pashinyan for becoming Prime Minister of Armenia. The Secretary wrote:

“Your excellency, please accept my congratulations on being appointed Prime Minister of Armenia. The recent parliamentary elections in Armenia with the technical support of the UN, became an important point for the democratic development of Armenia. I hope that your country will record progress in the future in the spirit of inclusiveness and transparency.

“I am confident that under your leadership, Armenia will continue to uphold the principles and goals of the United Nations. As you proceed with the ambitious reform agenda, the United Nations looks forward to working closely with you and with your Government to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, and to strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights and the rule of law,” he added.

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Armenian Government Reports Major Rise in Tax Revenue – $42 Million Collected

Armenia’s State Revenue Committee (SRC) has reported a more than 14% increase in the amount of taxes and custom duties collected by it in 2018.

The SRC chief, Davit Ananian, said the total tax revenues worth 1.3 trillion drams ($2.7 billion) also exceeded the Armenian government’s 2018 target by 3.5%. He attributed the major increase to SRC efforts to improve tax collection and administration.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government pledged to crack down on widespread tax evasion when it took office in May. Ananian promised at the time that its tax revenues “will be sustantially higher than planned” this year.

According to Pashinyan, the SRC recovered more than 20 billion drams ($42 million) of unpaid taxes from 73 companies.

The 2019 state budget commits the government to increasing its budgetary revenues by another 15% this year. This would enable the government to further cut the budget deficit while boosting public spending by around 12%.

Armenian tax revenue rose by more than 7% in 2017. The improvements was particularly visible in the national customs service long regarded as one of the country’s most corrupt government agencies.

Ananian, who served as a deputy finance minister before taking over the SRC, acknowledge in May that his predecessor, Vartan Harutunian, tackled the informal sector of the informal sector of the Armenian economy “quite effectively”. But he said that fight against tax fraud will be tougher and “even more effective” during his tenure.

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An Armenian School to Open in Valance Thanks to Philanthropist Kevork Arabian of Lebanon

An Armenian Day School will start operating in Valance, France in 2020 since construction started in January of this year. Valance is the most Armenian of communities in France.

The Valance Armenian Cultural Center (CCAV) co-chair Andre Hatsbanian said the work will advance as planned and expressed his gratitude to the benefactors and donors.

The school is being constructed in the vicinity of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Valance. The construction will cost about 1,800,000 Euros (about 1.7 million).

The plan of establishing a school started when a Lebanese Armenian philanthropist Kevork Arabian donated about 40% of the total cost (700,000 euros) The school leaders and Archbishop Norvan Zakarian raised 1 million euros. and there is only 800,000 euros to collect. According to one of the committee members, “it wouldn’t be very hard to raise that amount because there is a lot of excitement in the community to establish an Armenian school.”

This will be the eighth Armenian school in France, the others being in Lyon, Marseille, Nice, and Paris.

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