Iran might recognize the Armenian Genocide soon

There might be signs of recognition of the Armenian Genocide in Iran in the near future. This is what Armenian Deputy of the Mejlis of Iran Karen Khanlarian announced, reports the Iranian-Armenian community’s

Touching upon Iran’s potential recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian parliamentarian particularly mentioned the following: “The Iranian-Armenian community is very active. The community organized protests this year. The government expresses its support to the protests by granting permission. Even parliamentarians made statements condemning the Armenian Genocide.”

“Iran is facing a grave political situation in regard to the operations of ISIS and Turkey’s role, but I’m not ruling out Iran’s condemnation or recognition of the Armenian Genocide after this grave political situation is resolved,” Khanlarian continued.

Catholicos of All Armenians bid farewell to German Ambassador

On June 24, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians had a farewell meeting with outgoing Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany Reiner Morell.

His Holiness touched upon the close ties established between the Mother See and the Embassy and attached importance to the Ambassador’s efforts aimed at strengthening German-Armenian relations.

Talking about the Bundestag’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the Catholicos of All Armenians voiced hope that the ongoing discussions would lead to a positive outcome. The Supreme Patriarch emphasized that by Germany’s recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide would set an example for other countries and nations and would help prevent such tragedies from happening.

In his turn, Ambassador Morell expressed gratitude to the Pontiff for the cordiality and cooperation.

Catholicos of All Armenians receives newly appointed Ambassador of Argentina

On June 24, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians received Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Argentine Republic to the Republic of Armenia Gonzalo Urriolabeitia at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

Congratulating the Ambassador on his appointment, the Supreme Patriarch talked with satisfaction about the cordial and friendly relations between the two countries and his pontifical visits to Argentina.

During the meeting, His Holiness praised the fact that several Armenian survivors of the Armenian Genocide settled in the hospitable country of Argentina and continue to enjoy the generosity of the Argentine authorities.

In his turn, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Argentina assured the Catholicos of All Armenians that he would do everything possible to support the existing friendship and cooperation between the two countries. Touching upon the Armenian community of Argentina, the newly appointed Ambassador emphasized that the community is accepted, beloved and appreciated thanks to the members’ sincerity, diligence, as well as their significant contributions to the development and reinforcement of the country.

At the end of the meeting, His Holiness expressed his kind wishes to the Ambassador and wished him success in his mission in Armenia.

Director of the Department of Foreign Relations and Protocol of the Mother See, Father, Archbishop Nathan Hovhannisyan was also attending the meeting.

Participants of 2015 “Ari Tun” Program share their impressions

The “Ari Tun” Program of the RA Ministry of Diaspora for Diaspora Armenian youth’s homeland recognition continues. The participants of the program shared their impressions of the program in interviews with Hayern Aysor.

Narek Arbjian: I loved the “Ari Tun” Program. We went sightseeing and even visited places I had never been before. Everything is beautiful in Armenia. I hope the camping event will also be a nice event. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the RA Ministry of Diaspora for providing us with the opportunity to tour the country.

Shiraz Sultanian: By participating in the “Ari Tun” Program, I was able to rediscover my country. I was especially happy about the Armenian language courses. We study different topics, and I get very excited. I improved my knowledge of Armenian, and I thank our teacher for that.

Pierre Sultanian: The program provided me with a great opportunity to recognize Armenia and learn about the history of my Homeland. I’m having a great time. My friends and I talk about different topics and exchange our opinions as we go sightseeing. I’ll transfer my knowledge to the next generations.

David Ter-Vardanyan: I’m more than proud that I came to Armenia and am participating in the “Ari Tun” Program. I’m so impressed by my sweet Armenia and the Armenian language that I’ll remember the days that I spent here for a long time.

Mary Charshafjian: I recognized the Homeland, visited the churches that I had dreamed of seeing and saw the beautiful places and the nature of Armenia. However, I loved the visit to a military unit the most. It helped me get acquainted with the soldiers, thanks to whom Armenians sleep safe at night and live in peace.

Avo Aroyan: Participating in the “Ari Tun” Program helped me become familiar with the riches of Armenia, including the sites worth seeing, the churches, historical and cultural monuments, the khachkars (cross-stones) and the museums. I have promised myself to never forget the riches of my Homeland.

By Gevorg Chichyan

Anna Djanbazian: “For me, Armenia is my heart, my soul and my blood. My soul leaps whenever I utter the word ‘Armenia’”

Founding artistic director of the Djanbazian Dance Academy of Los Angeles and dance instructor Anna (Anahit) Janbazian was recently hosted at the RA Ministry of Diaspora where she also gave an interview to Hayern Aysor.

Hayern Aysor: Welcome to the Homeland, Mrs. Djanbazian! I know you are here on a special occasion.

Anna Djanbazian: Yes, we are here to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Djanbazian Dance Academy in the Homeland. Our visit coincided with the several events that were organized on the occasion of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. I thought of choreographing a new dance on that occasion, and we now have the “Karahunj” ballet, which we will perform during our upcoming concert. There will also be a medley of dances.

Hayern Aysor: Did you choreograph “Karahunj”?

A. D.: Yes, it’s my way of paying respect to the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Djanbazian, many academics have explained how the name “Karahunj” and the form and content of Stonehenge are the same. It is also evidence of the early emergence of the Armenians and the Armenian Highland. Does this lie at the core of your dance?

A. D.: For me, Karahunj represents a story. The idea is that the woman, the essence is strong and powerful like those stones, starting from the Armenian queens in ancient Armenian history and ending with the simple and average Armenian women of today. Armenian women today are solid as a rock, just like our history. They represent the “voice” and “spirit” of those stones. The stones also know how to “speak”.  

Hayern Aysor: How long have you been involved in dancing?

A. D.: My father, Sargis Djanbazian founded the Ballet Academy of Tehran in 1941. I was raised in that environment since the day I was born. I took my first steps by dancing. Dance has been and still is my lifestyle. When my father passed away in 1963, I came to Yerevan, studied, returned to Tehran and followed in my father’s footsteps. I have been dancing, teaching and creating for the past 45 years.

Hayern Aysor: Are there people who will follow in your footsteps?

A. D.: Of course. They are my students. I hope they go on to become the powerful “stones” of our history.

Hayern Aysor: What major dances have you choreographed that have attracted people’s attention in Armenia and abroad?

A. D.: Besides ballet, I also choreograph folk dances, but I am mainly focused on combining folk and classical dances. My “Komitas” ballet won 4 awards abroad. We received another two awards in Italy, as well as awards for the “Zal and Rudabem”, “Pearl of the Soul” and other dances. I have been working for 45 consecutive years and have never gone on vacation, and that is the guarantee of our success.

–  Ձեզ ճանաչո՞ւմ են Լոս Անջելեսում. խոսքս միայն հայերի մասին չէ:

Hayern Aysor: Are you popular in Los Angeles? I’m referring to non-Armenians.

A. D.: Yes, I am popular because people already knew my father, Sargis Janbazian before I became popular. He was the first balletmaster in Tehran. Our Academy has participated in several festivals and has given concerts around the world.

Hayern Aysor: How old are the dancers and of which nationality are they?

A. D.: Our youngest dancers are four years old, and we also have teens and young dancers, as well as adults of different nationalities. Of course, most of the dancers are Armenian.

Hayern Aysor: How many times has the Djanbazian Dance Academy visited Armenia?

A. D.: We have visited in 2003, in 2006 and in 2013. I hope this isn’t our last visit.

Hayern Aysor: Do the members of the dance group show their “Armenianness” only through dance, or does it also exist in their hearts and souls and on their lips?

A. D.: You put it beautifully. Of course, dance helps preserve the Armenian identity. I believe it is one of the guarantees for the preservation of the Armenian identity in foreign countries.

Hayern Aysor: Does your job make you feel happy and complete, or is it an obligation? Is it tiring?

A. D.: If that wasn’t my job, I probably wouldn’t be living. I live for my job and my creations. My job can’t be tiring.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Djanbazian, whom do you address in Armenia to talk about certain elements in teaching dance and in regard to costumes?

A. D.: The dances that my group performs aren’t specifically folk and ethnographic dances. I use sketches to design the costumes. If necessary, I always ask Mr. Karen Gevorgyan.

Hayern Aysor: Can the language of dance fully express your feelings?

A. D.: It definitely can. Dance is a powerful way of showing your feelings and experiences, as well as presenting your country and customs.

Hayern Aysor: Has there ever been a time when you have left Armenia inspired by its colors and scents and have choreographed a new dance?

A. D.: I have always choreographed a new dance after leaving Armenia. The Homeland has always been my source of inspiration.

Hayern Aysor: What does Armenia mean to you? Is it a familiar geographical area, home, or a landmark?

A. D.: For me, Armenia is my heart, my soul and my blood. My soul leaps whenever I utter the word ‘Armenia’.


Karine Avagyan

Karekin II: The late Kirk Kerkorian made his contribution to the prosperity of Armenian communities of the Diaspora with his heartfelt contributions

On June 24, a ceremony commemorating National Hero of the Republic of Armenia and great benefactor Kirk Kerkorian was held at the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Matenadaran of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin under the direction of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians and President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, reports the information system of the Mother See.

Among others attending the ceremony were Speaker of the RA National Assembly Galust Sahakyan, RA Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan, President of the RA Constitutional Court Gagik Harutyunyan, leaders and congregates of the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church, government officials, U.S. Vice-Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia Clark Price, as well as representatives of Armenian universities and national benefactors.

The Catholicos of All Armenians and the RA President gave their speeches at the event.

Afterwards, His Holiness Karekin II performed a Requiem Service for the soul of the late Kirk Kerkorian to rest in peace.

Karine Minasyan receives Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation

Member of the advisory board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Karine Minasyan has been granted the Order of Friendship for her friendship and cooperation with the Russian Federation and for helping strengthen the trade, economic and cultural ties between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation.

The order was signed by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and was handed by Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Armenia Ivan Volinkin at the Embassy.

According to “Armenpress”, during the solemn ceremony, the Ambassador emphasized that Karine Minasyan has made great contributions to the strengthening of trade and economic relations between Russia and Armenia and especially Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union. “This is a high award, and it’s my pleasure to present it to Karine Minasyan. She truly deserves the award since she has always worked with dedication and has helped enhance the friendship and cooperation between Russia and Armenia and the economic cooperation between the two countries through her efforts. In this sense, it’s not by chance that Karine Minasyan is holding a high office within the Eurasian Economic Commission since she has been one of the creators of the initiative and has made her great contributions to make sure Armenia becomes a member of the EAEU in a short amount of time,” Russian Ambassador to Armenia Ivan Volinkin said. “This is the result of the efforts of all our colleagues with whom I have worked for the past couple of years under the direction of the head of state and the Prime Minister so that we can strengthen and develop close economic ties with the Eurasian Economic Union and help make Armenia’s accession to the EAEU possible,” Karine Minasyan said, adding that she attaches great importance to the award.

Two earthquakes in Van

Two consecutive earthquakes were recorded last night in Van, which is located in modern-day Turkey, writes

According to haber3 news website, the epicenter was the Molakasim village of Van where people felt an earthquake with a 4.6 magnitude at 1:35 and another earthquake with a 3.2 magnitude just minutes later at 1:43. The hypocenter of the first earthquake was 5 km deep, and the second one was 1 km deep. The shocks were felt in central Van and in the nearby villages. No victims or material damages were reported.

Let us mention that Van is a quite dangerous earthquake zone. There are often underground shocks. The last major earthquake in Van was recorded on October 23, 2011. The magnitude of the shocks at the epicenter, which was the Tabanli village of Van, was 9, while the magnitude of the shocks in the nearby residential areas was 7.2. Another 722 aftershocks were recorded in the five days following the earthquake. The earthquake damaged thousands of buildings and took the lives of hundreds of people.

Fundraiser for Syrian-Armenians

On June 19, 2015, the Armenian National Committee of France and AYP-FM held a fundraiser for Syrian-Armenians with the support of the RA Ministry of Diaspora, reports the Department of Armenian Communities of Europe at the RA Ministry of Diaspora to Hayern Aysor. The fundraiser was broadcast on the radio and helped raise 25,000 Euros.

The fundraiser continues.

AGBU Canada Honors Member of Parliament Brad Butt with the AGBU Armenia Award

On Friday, June 12, AGBU Canada honored Member of Parliament (MP) Brad Butt with the AGBU Armenia Award at the AGBU Center in Montréal. The award, presented during the AGBU Alex Manoogian School graduation ceremony, was given in thanks of Butt’s work in sponsoring Motion 587 (M-587) to designate April 24 as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day in Canada.

Addressing the Class of 2015, MP Butt emphasized his dedication to the Armenian community and genocide recognition: “On April 24, 2015, the House of Commons unanimously adopted M-587 designating the month of April as Genocide Awareness, Prevention and Condemnation month in Canada. By doing so, we renewed our commitment to do everything we can to prevent such events from happening again.”

During his speech, MP Butt also recalled his trip to Armenia and praised the graduates of the AGBU Alex Manoogian’s School’s participation in the AGBU Discover Armenia program this summer: “Last August, while in Armenia, I visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum and I laid a wreath at the site, shedding tears for the 1.5 million people killed in this horrific time in human history. I hope you too will have the opportunity to do the same, because the only appropriate response is to strongly reaffirm our collective commitment as a society to remember and commemorate genocide, to educate future generations about the poisonous effects of hate and intolerance and to uphold the importance of preventing such atrocities from ever reoccurring.”

Following his speech, Butt presented AGBU Canada Representative Chahé Tanachian and AGBU Canada Executive Committee member Hagop Arslanian with the original, signed copy of M-587 as a token of respect and appreciation for the Canadian Armenian community.

“We have awarded MP Butt with the AGBU Armenia Award in recognition of his hard work for the adoption of M-587 and to express our gratitude and immense respect for the principled and courageous stance he took in the House of Commons,” said Tanachian.

On April 21, 2015, the Canadian Parliament adopted Motion-380, officially acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and condemning it as a crime against humanity.

AGBU Toronto Recognizes Executive Director Salpi Der Ghazarian for Her Service

On June 13, AGBU Toronto honored the chapter’s executive director Salpi Der Ghazarian for her more than 25 years of service to the chapter. An inscribed Michael Aram vase was presented to Der Ghazarian at a luncheon organized for AGBU President Berge Setrakian’s visit to the chapter, which brought together nearly 100 guests to the AGBU Toronto Centre.

Among the guests were the Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Canada Bishop Abgar Hovakimian, AGBU Central Board members Ani Manoukian and Lena Sarkissian, AGBU Toronto board and committee members, representatives of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church and Armenian cultural organizations as well as donors and chapter members. “I am completely surprised by this award. Serving AGBU for the past quarter of a century has been a great honor. The organization has been a big part of my life and it will continue to be,” said Der Ghazarian. Archpriest Der Zareh Zargarian, K.M. Greg Sarkissian of the Zoryan Institute and Ara Boyajian, former chair of the Diocesan Council, also expressed their gratitude for her contributions to the Armenian community of Toronto.

Der Ghazarian began volunteering for AGBU Toronto in 1981, served as a board member for the chapter from 1987 to 1989 and took on the role of executive director in 1989. Under her leadership, AGBU Toronto has organized major cultural events, including concerts with world-renowned musicians and lectures and book talks with prominent writers and historians. She has also been instrumental in showcasing the musical talents of the community’s youth with AGBU Toronto’s Annual Musical Talent Show.

AGBU Toronto was founded in 1923. In the following years, membership grew rapidly with young Armenians orphaned during the genocide. In the 1950s and 1960s, new Armenian immigrants arrived to Canada, predominantly from the Middle East, due to political and economic upheavals in the region. In 1979, land was purchased for the AGBU Toronto Centre in Scarborough, northeast of Toronto. Today, the Centre hosts a variety of cultural, sports, youth and social programs for Toronto’s growing Armenian community.

AGBU Toronto’s mission is to preserve and promote the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs. Its executive board supports AGBU’s mission and programs in Armenia and the diaspora and oversees AGBU Toronto’s youth, sports, cultural, educational and social programs. The board is also committed to AGBU’s humanitarian projects in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and its relief efforts in Syria and Iraq.

AGBU FOCUS 2015 Comes to Toronto

Summer has arrived and with preparations well underway, young Armenians worldwide are buzzing about AGBU FOCUS weekend, as the world class event comes to Toronto this July. Now in its eighth year, the four-day affair will take guests through Toronto’s rich culture, neighborhoods and nightlife, offering visitors and locals alike a FOCUS experience like never before.

Since premiering in New York City in 2001, AGBU FOCUS has distinguished itself as a unique networking experience for global Armenian young professionals (YPs). What began as a signature anniversary celebration is now a sensational tradition, offering YPs an opportunity to connect with hundreds of international peers while highlighting the direct and positive impact of AGBU’s programs on generations of Armenians. Over the past 14 years, AGBU FOCUS has united over 2,500 YPs in six different cities: New York City (2001, 2007), Montreal (2003), Miami (2005), Chicago (2009), Paris (2011) and San Francisco (2013).

“As representatives of one of Canada’s most vibrant Armenian communities, we feel privileged to be hosting this one-of-a-kind global initiative. FOCUS 2015 coincides with the centennial of the Armenian Genocide and we feel there is stronger sense of unity and cooperation amongst all Armenians. We have no doubt that this very spirit will guide our discussions and help us find novel, effective ways for preserving our heritage and promoting our identity,” said AGBU FOCUS 2015 Chair Mihran Egavian.

Perspectives kicks off AGBU FOCUS on Thursday, July 23 with an engaging panel discussion and networking reception for guests to share viewpoints on a hot topic. The excitement continues day and night on Friday, July 24 where guests will explore the city through their palates during the first-ever FOCUS food crawl-Taste of Toronto-then later enjoy Club Night at Maison Mercer, one of Toronto’s hottest venues. Saturday, July 25 features FOCUS on Art at the Walnut Contemporary with an afternoon of art and photography, then a formal Gala in the evening at ARD with dinner and dancing. Brunch on Sunday brings the memorable weekend to close, giving YPs the perfect opportunity to bid farewell to their new friends.

This year, AGBU FOCUS is raising funds for AGBU Education Innovation projects and has pledged to fund the creation of e-learning apps supporting the mission to make learning Armenian in the diaspora fun and exciting. Having identified a gap in quality Armenian e-products for children, parents and teachers, AGBU is actively working with experts and reputable institutions and organizations to make educational apps, e-books, and online language courses readily available for all.

AGBU FOCUS is also dedicated to AGBU’s mission to expand the reach of the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies. With partnership TUMOxAGBU locations opening in Gyumri and Stepankert, thousands of youth can take advantage of the unique after-school learning experience which has yielded many success stories in Yerevan. Guided by skilled teachers and advisors, students ages 12-18 receive unparalleled hands-on exploration of technology. To date, 10,000 students have attended classes at the flagship Yerevan center, with 100 children requesting enrollment each week. Determined not to turn a single eager learner away, TUMOxAGBU started registration this May for fall classes at the Gyumri location and plans to open a location in Stepanakert are in the works.

Tickets for AGBU FOCUS 2015 are on sale now and discounted accommodations are available at the Shangri-La Hotel. For more information about the weekend’s events and to register, purchase tickets or book hotel rooms, visit To donate to AGBU FOCUS 2015 in support of AGBU Education Innovation, visit or call AGBU at 212-319-6383.

For any other questions, please contact FOCUS Coordinator, Sharis Boghossian Be sure to “Like” the AGBU FOCUS Facebook page and invite your network of Armenian YPs to do the same.

A Personal Tribute on the Passing of Kirk Kerkorian: an Extraordinary Man

Since his passing on June 15, thousands of journalists have highlighted Kirk Kerkorian’s amazing business accomplishments and substantial charitable contributions. However, these journalists had never met this great man, as he rarely gave interviews to the media.

Having worked with Mr. Kerkorian for almost three decades as Senior Vice President of The Lincy Foundation and President of the United Armenian Fund, I would like to offer a personal tribute about this compassionate Armenian-American and wonderful human being.

I remember vividly the first time I met Mr. Kerkorian. It was at a Beverly Hills restaurant in the mid 1980’s during a small gathering of wealthy Armenians who supported Gov. George Deukmejian’s reelection. I was there as editor of The California Courier newspaper. When I walked over to introduce myself, Mr. Kerkorian recognized me right away and told me that he was a regular reader of my weekly columns. I was greatly surprised and flattered….

The next time I met Mr. Kerkorian was in his Beverly Hills office on November 1, 1989, eleven months after the devastating earthquake in Armenia. We discussed the possibility of forming a coalition of seven major Armenian-American organizations, including The Lincy Foundation, to airlift humanitarian aid to Armenia. Mr. Kerkorian offered to pay the full cost of transportation and went on to generously pledge to cover not only the cost of one airlift, but “all future airlifts as long as Armenia needed assistance.” Within a few days, the United Armenian Fund was born which successfully delivered over the next 25 years $700 million of relief supplies to Armenia and Artsakh, on board 158 airlifts and 2,250 sea containers.

In 1998, Mr. Kerkorian invited me to travel with him to Armenia, his first trip during which he pledged to Pres. Kocharian to allocate $100 million (raising it later to $242 million) to build or renovate tunnels, bridges and dozens of schools throughout Armenia and one in Artsakh; hundreds of miles of highways, roads and streets; 34 cultural institutions and museums; 3,700 apartments in the earthquake zone; and $20 million of loans to small businesses. These projects not only dramatically improved Armenia’s infrastructure, but also provided much needed employment to over 20,000 workers. Mr. Kerkorian asked me to supervise these projects, in my capacity as Senior Vice President of The Lincy Foundation.

Over the years, Mr. Kerkorian’s Lincy Foundation contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to Armenians worldwide, including $14 million to provide heating oil for Armenia’s freezing population during the harsh winter of 1993, $4.5 million in 2006 to all 28 Armenian schools in Lebanon, and millions of dollars to Hayastan All-Armenia Fund’s projects in Artsakh. It is estimated that from 1989 to 2011, The Lincy Foundation contributed over $1 billion, split equally between Armenian and non-Armenian charities.

In 2011, when The Lincy Foundation closed its doors, unfounded and false rumors began circulating about the supposed reasons for its closure. The fact is that Mr. Kerkorian had planned all along that at a certain advanced age he would no longer deal with the deluge of daily requests for funding from around the world and distribute the bulk of his wealth after his passing.

I would like to conclude by mentioning some of the likes and dislikes of this remarkable Armenian-American:

— Mr. Kerkorian detested the divisions among Armenians. It upset him to no end that Armenians could not get along with each other. He often said: “Why can’t they unite and march in the same direction?” He was pleased to see seven major Armenian-American organizations working together under the umbrella of the United Armenian Fund.

–He cared deeply about the destitute condition of the people in Armenia and was constantly worried about emigration. He sought to create jobs so Armenians won’t have to leave their homeland.

— He hated the limelight and never lent his name to any building or institution.

— He was extremely wealthy, yet lived very modestly and spoke gently and politely. He preferred that people address him as Kirk rather than Mr. Kerkorian.

Finally, no one had to prompt Kirk to donate money to worthy causes. He often volunteered to make large contributions without being asked.

The Armenian nation and the world owe him a great debt of gratitude.

By Harut Sassounian

Publisher, The California Courier

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