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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Senate Confirms Ambassadorial Nominees for Armenia Lynne M. Tracy

Foreign Relations Committee Member Robert Melendez Reiterates Key Concerns for Armenia

WASHINGTON, DC — On January 2nd, 2019, the United States confirmed by a voice vote Ambassadorial nominees Lynne M. Tracy and Earle D. Litzenberger to represent the United States in Armenia and Azerbaijan, respectively, reported the Armenian Assembly of America.

Last month, during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) business meeting on the nomination, Ranking Member Robert Menendez (D-NJ) explained his support for both candidates, as well as the importance of strong U.S – Armenia relations. “Armenia and the Caucasus region will continue to be vital to regional and global security. According to the OSCE, Armenia’s elections over the weekend met international standards. I look forward to supporting the government’s efforts to build strong democratic institutions , a vibrant Armenian economy, and oppose any efforts to violate Armenia’s sovereignty,” Ranking Member Menendez said.

She Promised to Support Armenia

During Ambassador designate nomination hearing she promised to support Armenia’s “remarkable” democratic reforms. As to questions at the hearing by SFRC Ranking Member Menendez and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) on the Armenian genocide, she agreed that “1.5 million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their death in the final years of the Ottoman Empire” in 1915, but fell short of properly categorizing the killings as a genocide. “Throughout my time in the Senate, I have advanced for an honest accounting of the Armenian genocide. I believe we have a moral imperative to recognize the atrocities committed against the Armenian people.”

Ms. Tracy’s experience in Russia and Central Asia positions her to help navigate U.S policy in this critical time. I support this nomination, but expect to work closely with Ms. Tracy on how she will encourage an honest acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide, support ongoing efforts to ensure accountable citizen response, governance, and support efforts to reach a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” he added.

During the SFRC business meeting, Senator Menendez also noted the importance of safety in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), and his expectations for the U.S Ambassador selected to be the representative in Azerbaijan.

“I support Mr. Litzenberger’s nomination and expect to have close and continuing dialogue with him on how he will urge the Azeris to step back from any threatening behavior that could disrupt the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh, support respect for human rights, and support efforts to reach a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” Senator Menendez said. “We appreciate the important issues during the confirmation process. We look forward to working with the new Congress to ensure robust assistance to further Armenia’s democratic development,” Assembly executive Director Bryan Ardouny said.

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Russian Slams Azerbaijan for Discriminating Against Armenians

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova slammed Azerbaijani authorities for discrimination against Russian citizens of Armenian origin in Azerbaijan. “I have seen a large number of such reports, including on social networks. The latest ones were reported during these past holidays, We have been raising this issue regularly before the Azerbaijani side, expressing our concern that such cases are becoming a bad tradition,” she said at the briefing. at the airport, then forcibly

According to Zakharova, at least 16 cases of refusing the entry of Russian citizens of Armenian origin to Azerbaijan were reported last year. She said Russian citizens of Armenia origin were detained for hours at the airport, then forcibly expelled from the country without mentioning officially the reason. “These facts, from our point of view, are a gross violation of the rights of Russian citizens,” said Zakharova.

She once again stressed that the Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly drawn the attention of the Azerbaijani side to the unacceptability of such a situation. “We demanded that this practice be stopped – both detentions and expulsions. It is incompatible with friendly relations between our countries. We have received assurances from the Azerbaijani leadership that the situation would be corrected. And we are very much looking forward to it,” Zakharova said.

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32 Female Lawmakers in Armenia’s New Parliament: An increase of 14 Members

The number of female lawmakers will be 32 in the new Parliament of Armenia; their number was 18 in the previous convocation Parliament.

Women will comprise nearly 25% of 132 Members of Parliament in the 7th convocation.

My Step Alliance will have 23 female lawmakers in Parliament, the Prosperous Armenia party – 5 female MPs, and the Bright Armenia party with 4 female MPs.

Snap parliamentary elections were held in Armenia on December 9. Based on election results, three political forces – My Step alliance, Prosperous Armenia and Bright Armenia parties have been elected to the Parliament.

My Step alliance will have 88 seats, the Prosperous Armenia party – 26 and the Bright Armenian party – 18 seats in the new Parliament.

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Pashinyan and Putin Meet: Armenia, Russia Outline Strategic Directions of Cooperation

Armenian Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin outlined Armenia-Russia cooperation strategic directions as they met in Moscow on Thursday, December 27 2018.

Pashinyan said that a wide range of issues had been discussed at the meeting. “I can say that in this matter, we fully understand what strategic direction the development between our countries should have: Pashinyan said.

As a whole, he said, the atmosphere of the meeting was very positive. He stressed that his meetings with the Russian president are very frequent, and this shows their special strategic nature. In his words, they didn’t discuss Karabakh conflict at their meeting, and instead discussed the strategic aspects and content of Armenia-Russia relations. Pashinyan said that relations between the two countries are so comprehensive that our contacts are still few to discuss all the issues in details. And this means, he said, that these contacts should be continued and not be limited to meetings between the president and the premier – the two countries’ governing institutions agencies should contact each other and the interaction culture should develop.

The Discuss Institutional Solutions on CSTO

Strategic essence and content of the Collective Security Treaty Organization were briefly discussed at the meeting between Armenian Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pashinyan said in his live address to the Armenian people on his Facebook page upon his return to Moscow. “Our stance is that we need institutional solutions here to make in the CSTO regulations the amendments foreseeing such situations for avoiding such disputes caused by the lack of coordination,” Pashinyan said.

The turmoil in the Russian-led Collective Security Treat Organization (CSTO) was triggered by Armenia’s decision in early November to recall Yuri Khachaturov, a former chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces, who had been serving as CSTO secretary general. In Armenia, Khachaturov had been charged with involvement in the violent crackdown on the opposition in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election in 2008. Armenia insists that the position should be held by its representative until the end of Khachaturov’s term, which ends in mid 2019.

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$13.5 Million Misappropriated Returned to Government

Aren Mkrtchyan, assistant tot he Prime Minister of Armenia, has posted the following on Facebook.

“As I have already informed, in July I handed to the National Security Service data and documents based on which on August 6, the Investigative Department of National Security Service started an investigation of suspected misappropriation in the Ministry of Defense.

Large-scale and intensive investigative actions proved that large damage at was inflicted on the state by supplier organizations, of which $13.5 million or 84.65% has been returned as of December 24, and the remaining part is returned by supply of goods envisaged by contracts.

The investigations revealed that around 10 commercial organizations based in Armenia, signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense of Armenia in 2009-2017 and were to supply different goods and ammunition worth 10 million drams but the supplies were not made with significant breaches of contract terms, without plausible reasons, or goods with value or quality lower than defined by the contracts were supplied.

I am thankful to the NSS Investigative Department and the director of NSS Artur Vanetsyan, the staff of the Ministry of Defense and the acting minister Davit Tonoyan and everyone who helped such large volume of work to succeed. Fight on corruption continues.”

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Pashinyan Says Armenia Interested in Developing Cooperation with the United States

Armenia would like to enhance economic cooperation with the United States, acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan last week during a meeting in Yerevan with the visiting deputy head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for Europe and Eurasia, Brock Birman, the government press agency said.

According to Pashinyan, the government will consistently and confidently continue reforms aimed at developing democratic institutions and in this context he emphasized the importance of cooperation with USAID. Pashinyan said Birman’s visit to Armenia is a good opportunity to outline directions for further cooperation. “Our goal is to turn the political revolution into an economic one, and on the way to these important changes we are interested in active cooperation with USAID. Our steps are aimed at strengthening democracy, improving the business environment, attracting investments, and promoting the development of civil society,” said Pashinyan.

Birman congratulated Pashinyan on holding high level early parliamentary elections. He said USAID is ready to work with the government of Armenia in strengthening its democratic institutions.

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Record $4 Million Raised at Annual Gala of Children of Armenia Fund (COAF)

NEW YORK – With the Armenian flag raised over the historic New York City’s Cunard building, 400 guests attended the sold-out 15th annual Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) Holiday Gala held on December 15th at Cipriani 25 Broadway. COAF announced a record fund-raising total for its 2018 Gala with over $4 million raised. The purpose of the event is to fund innovative programs in education, healthcare, social services, and economic development throughout rural Armenia. This will include the completion of the state-of-the-art COAF SMART Center campus, which will reach over 150,000 people and was recently visited by President Armen Sarkissian of Armenia. “It was a spectacular evening, and we are delighted by the support from the Diaspora as well as our global family who have demonstrated a deep sense of commitment to COAF’s mission over the last 15 years,” said Dr. Garo Armen, Founder of COAF. “We are energized by the evening’s outpouring of generosity and will be expanding our reach which now includes 44 rural communities impacting over 75,000 lives to over 100 communities impacting 150,000 lives. Furthermore, the peaceful revolution in April underscores COAF’s core values to bring about democracy and freedom to allow citizens to define their future. All this will result in accelerated innovation and economic growth. We feel a moral responsibility to provide the next generation with the tools, skills, and infrastructure to advance what has already started.”

A significance component of the evening was a live art auction guided by Gala Honorary Chair Tony Shafrazi, one of the art world’s most prominent figures, Shafrazi, an Iranian-born Armenian, rose to fame managing artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Donald Baechler, and Kenny Scharf. Renowned auctioneer Simon de Pury once again masterfully conducted the auction.

COAF ambassador Andrea Martin once again hosted this year’s gala. The Andrea Martin Performing Arts Auditorium located in the COAF SMART Center, was named after the Emmy and Tony Award winning Armenian-American actress in appreciation of her love and support for the children of Armenia.

Celebrity guests included Grammy-nominated singer Melody Gardot and Emmy-nominated actor Victor Garber. Gardot, a proponent of music therapy for children, learned about COAF’s work after performing at the Francophonie Summit held in Yerevan this year. Victor Garber, a past COAF award recipient who has taken part in several COAF galas, led the evening’s special tribute to the late French-Armenian iconic entertainer Charles Aznavour.

COAF’s Humanitarian Award was presented to Vartan Gregorian (president of the Carnegie Corporation) and his late wife Clare Gregorian, who was a founding COAF board member. Nine college scholarships were established for COAF youth in Armenia in appreciation of Clare Gregorian’s dedication.

Vartan Gregorian has served as an adviser to the COAF Board for several years. Prior to his current position, which he assumed in 1997, Gregorian served as the president of Brown University. He has been decorated by various governments, including over seventy honorary degrees.

Attendees also heard an inspiring speech from a young teenager by the name of Marina Mirzoyan from the COAF-supported village of Hatsik. Marina is currently a study exchange student in Colorado and has excelled in English Language programs offered at her local school. She spoke in gaining confidence and not being afraid to fail as a result of COAF’s impact on her life. The evening also featured performances by two teenaged musicians from Armenia. Armen Dagchinyan (piano) and Armen Daghents (Saxophone) moved guests with both classical and popular pieces.

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Hrant Dink Murder Case: Two Defendants Released in Reopened Hearing in Istanbul Court

The case which was re-opened regarding the murder of Hrant Dink, Editor-In-chief of Agos Newspaper, continued on December 21st at the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court in the Chaglayan Courthouse.

The 87th hearing of the case, in which public officers are being tried on the allegation of negligence, has been held.

Eighty-five defendants are being tried, six of them were arrested, Bianet.org reports. Apart from Ali Fuat Yilmazer, the then Police Intelligence Bureau Director, all arrested defendants have requested release.

The court has ruled that defendants Hamza Celepoghlu, Intelligence Assessment and Analysis Center Adjutant of the Gendarmerie General Command, Yavuz Karakaya, a non-commissioned officer at the Istanbul Gendarmerie Intelligence Bureau, shall be released.

As a justification for the verdicts of release pronounce by the court have been cited the period when the defendants were arrested, and the fact that they were not arrested on another charge.

The requests for release raised by the order arrested defendants have been dismissed on the grounds that witness statements have not yet been completed and the gravity of the offenses, for which they were arrested.

One of the attorneys of Dink family, Hakan Bakiroglu, previously requested that the then Head of Istanbul Department of the National Intelligence Organization of Turkey (MIT) Ahmet Koksoy shall be heard at the court. The court board rejected the request of the attorney.

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Ninety Businessmen from Different Countries Want to Make Large Investments in Armenia

Over the past six months more than 120 meetings with the Diaspora-Armenian businessmen were held both in Armenia and the Diaspora with the goal to attract the Diaspora’s potential. Some ninety businessmen from different countries of the world have applied to make investments in Armenia.

The program aims at creating a chance for the Diaspora-Armenia entrepreneurs to bring start ups to Armenia and improve the ecosystem of start ups in the country. The targeted sectors of the program are agriculture, tourism, and innovative technologies.

Some seventy start up ideas have already been selected, fifty from the Diaspora, for the participation.

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