RA Ministry of Diaspora pays homage to Diaspora Armenian artists

On 13 April, RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan received France-based musician, songwriter and actress Janna Blbulyan, Belgium-based singer Nara Noyan and writer, publicist Levon Blbulyan.

The Minister appreciated the great contributions that the Diaspora Armenian artists have made to the preservation and dissemination of Armenian culture in the Diaspora and the support that they have provided to the partnership between Armenia and the Diaspora through their activities.

The Minister granted the Medal of Gratitude of the RA Ministry of Diaspora to Janna Blbulyan for the efforts that she has made in different fields for the development of the Armenia-Diaspora partnership and for effective participation in the solution to pan-national issues.

Minister Hranush Hakobyan also granted the Komitas Medal of the RA Ministry of Diaspora to Nara Noyan for disseminating Armenian arts in the Diaspora, for her high mastery as a performer and for her notable contributions to the development of the Armenia-Diaspora partnership.

The guests expressed gratitude for the kind wards and appreciation and noted that the awards were binding and inspiring.


We restore all historical monuments, including mosques, says Nagorno-Karabakh official

People in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) always feel committed to preserve and restore historical monuments regardless of their ethnic or religious background, the spokesperson of the Nagorno-Karabakh president said today, commenting on a statement by the Caucasus Muslim leader.

“We are renovating an architectural monument, which has absolutely nothing to do with provocation or anything of the kind. We are not like them [the Azerbaijanis] to vandalize Armenian khachkars (cross-stones) in Jugha,” Davit Babayan told Tert.am.

In his recent statement, Haji Allahshükür Hummat Pashazade, Sheikh ul-Islam and Grand Mufti of the Caucasus, cited provocative intentions behind the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians’ move to undertake the renovation a historical monument in Shushi.

He also unveiled plans for organizing a meeting of the Armenian, Russian and Azerbaijani religious leaders. Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II later confirmed the report.
Babayan said he would hail the event “if it is going to really contribute to peace”. “But in case [the Azerbaijani religious leader] unfolds demands for the return of 20% of regions, it will just be yet another meeting,” he added.

Admitting that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has no religious background, Babayan said he nonetheless believes that it may influence public sentiments, dispelling the existing tension and Armenophobia in Azerbaijan.

“Our society is not guiding itself by fascist and Nazi approaches. The very idea to renovate the mosque bears witness to a tolerant atmosphere here,” he added.

“Everyone please go see it and finally hear the story of the Armenian people”-Kim Kardashian on the film “The Promise”

Kim Kardashian has joined other Hollywood stars and has posted a tweet about the Armenian Genocide film “The Promise” on her Twitter page.

“So proud of the movie #ThePromise Everyone please go see it and finally hear the story of the Armenian people” wrote Kim on her microblog, reported armradio.am.

The hashtag #KeepThePromise has been posted a lot on social networks over the past few days. Several stars have expressed their support to the film ahead of the world premiere of the film.

Azerbaijani MFA calls Iran’s Ambassador in relation to mosque in Shushi

Iran’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan has been called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in regard to the fact that a group of Iranian archaeologists participated in the archaeological excavations that took place in the area near the Upper Mosque, which is an Iranian historic and cultural monument located in Shushi.

According to representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hikmet Gajiyev, “the Armenian party is trying to eliminate all elements attesting its Azerbaijani origin under the veil of restoration of the mosque”, reported Armedia.

The mosque in Shushi has been open for historians, archaeologists and other specialists. Only Azerbaijani specialists can doubt whether the mosque is an Iranian cultural monument or not, but that is something for Iran and Azerbaijan to clarify…

Let us mention that archaeological excavations have been carried out in the area near the Iranian Upper Mosque monument in Shushi since 21 March.

Argrain’s founder says Argrain exports rye grown in Artsakh

We export rye grown in Artsakh to Italy, Holland, Israel and Russia. The United States and Switzerland have also been interested in importing rye from Artsakh recently.

This is what founder of Artsakh’s rye-exporting Argrain Company Harutyun Mnatsakanyan told Artsakhpress.

“We started working in Artsakh in 2013. We reprocess the raw material in Armenia and export it to Italy, Holland, Israel and Russia and particularly Europe. It is of high quality and doesn’t contain harmful substances. Bread made from organic flour produced from rye has all the natural vitamins that an organism needs. We have also decided to produce bread in Artsakh,” the company’s founder said.

Talking about the company’s future projects in Artsakh, Mnatsakanyan said the company was preparing to open a vegetable oil factory to produce raw material for flax seed in Artsakh.

“This year I am planning on opening a vegetable oil factory where we will process the raw material of flax seed produced in Artsakh. Out of the non-traditional types of herbs, quinoa, chia and physalis are of great value in Europe. We want to grow these three types of plants in Artsakh as well. They are used for making juices and salads,” Mnatsakanyan said.

Artaskh President partook at the tree-planting activity in Mataghis village

On 13 April Artsakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan visited Mataghis village of the Martakert region and partook there at the tree-planting activity organized within the frameworks of cleaning works, Central Information Department of the Office of the Artsakh Republic President stated.

The Head of the State met with local population and discussed problems the community faced.

President Sahakyan gave concrete instructions to the heads of the concerned bodies for proper solution of the discussed issues.

The Promise, the First Wide-Release Feature Film about the Armenian Genocide, Opens Around the World

Armenian organizations in North America band together to ensure the success of the film through grassroots efforts

For the first time, a big budget, wide-release feature film—complete with a-list, Hollywood celebrities and a renowned, Academy Award-winning director—will depict the Armenian Genocide. This monumental film, The Promise, will be released in mainstream theaters across the United States and Canada on April 21, marking a major triumph for the Armenian community. Due to the exceptional caliber of the film, it will not be screened privately at community events. Instead, groups are strongly encouraged to go en masse to their local theaters to support the film and help it reach the highest possible box-office sales. For exact dates of the film’s international release, please see the end of this release and continue to check social media.

All Armenians and non-Armenians are urged to support the grassroots efforts leading up to the premiere of the film to ensure its success and encourage the film industry to produce more films about Armenian history. (1) Bring friends and family to the film during its opening weekend. (2) Spread the word about The Promise on social media with the hashtags #KeepThePromise and #ThePromiseTheFilm and invite friends and family to join the campaign. (3) Go to daytime and night screenings of The Promise during its opening week. (4) Review the film online at www.rottentomatoes.com and www.imdb.com as honestly as you see fit.

Produced by the legendary Kirk Kerkorian’s Survival Pictures and directed by Academy Award winner Terry George (Hotel Rwanda), The Promise features an outstanding international cast, including Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Angela Sarafyan, and many more. All proceeds from the film will be donated to non-profit organizations, the first time for a film of this scale.

In the film, it is 1914. As the Great War looms, the vast Ottoman Empire is crumbling. Constantinople (Istanbul)—its once vibrant, multicultural capital—is about to be consumed by chaos. Michael Boghosian (Oscar Isaac) arrives in the cosmopolitan hub as a medical student determined to bring modern medicine to Siroun, his ancestral village in southern Turkey where Turkish Muslims and Armenian Christians have lived side by side for centuries. Photo-journalist Chris Meyers (Christian Bale) has come only partly to cover geo-political news. He is mesmerized by his love for Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), an Armenian artist he has accompanied from Paris after the sudden death of her father. When Michael meets Ana, their shared Armenian heritage sparks an attraction that explodes into a romantic rivalry between the two men, even as Michael hangs on to a promise from his past. After the Turks join the war on the German side, the Empire turns violently against its own ethnic minorities. Despite their conflicts, everyone must find a way to survive—even as monumental events envelope their lives.

In addition to the all-star cast, acclaimed musician and activist Serj Tankian served as the film’s executive music consultant and contributed a modern rendition of the Armenian folk song, “Sari Siroun Yar,” to the soundtrack. “It’s been an honor to be an impartial ear and eye to the film,” said Tankian. “The best way to counter high budget disinformation campaigns by the Turkish government is to move people with the truth via the arts. I’ve been doing it for years with music and wanted to help do it through film somehow.” The original title song for the film was written and performed by Chris Cornell of the band Soundgarden and the original score was composed by Academy Award winner Gabriel Yared (The English Patient).

In addition to the release in the United States and Canada on April 21, The Promise will also be released in the Middle East (Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, UAE, Yemen) on April 20; in Armenia and Russia on April 27; in the United Kingdom on April 28; in Poland on May 5; in Australia on May 25; in Thailand on June 1; in Spain on June 2; in Belgium on June 14; in the Netherlands on June 15; in Singapore on June 22; in South Africa on June 23 and in Italy on August 24. Please continue to check social media for updates on the film’s release in more countries.

The grassroots campaign to ensure the box-office success of The Promise has been a worldwide effort supported by a joint coalition of Armenian organizations in North America, including: All-Armenian Student Association (All-ASA), Armenia Fund, Armenia Tree Project, Armenian Assembly of America, Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance, Armenian Catholic Eparchy in the United States & Canada, Armenian Film Foundation, Armenian Gay and Lesbian Association of New York (AGLA NY), Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA), Armenian Missionary Association of America, Armenian Missionary Association of Canada, Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC), Armenian National Institute (ANI), Armenian Network of America, Armenian Prelacy of Canada, the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of the United States, Armenian Students’ Association of America, Arpa Foundation for Film, Music and Art (AFFMA), Children of Armenia Fund (COAF), Constantinople Armenian Relief Society (CARS), Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada, Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to Canada, Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to the United States, Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS), Hamazkayin Educational & Cultural Society of the United States, Hayastan Foundation Canada, Knights and Daughters of Vartan, National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), Office of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the United States, ONEArmenia, Organization of Istanbul Armenians (OIA), Tekeyan Cultural Association of the United States and Canada, Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief (SOAR), Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Zoryan Institute.

To find out more about The Promise, please visit http://www.survivalpictures.org/the-promise/. To book a local theater to host a large group showing of the film, please email KeepThePromise@agbu.org.

Established in 1906, AGBU (www.agbu.org) is the world’s largest non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching the lives of some 500,000 Armenians around the world.

 For more information about AGBU and its worldwide programs, please visit www.agbu.org.


Embassy of the Republic of Armenia participated at an event dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Canada

On April 11th, the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, with the sponsorship of Armenian Relief Society Sevan chapter, took part in the Ottawa Diplomatic Association: Fundraising Food and Beverage Cultural Event, as a part of the Ottawa Welcomes the World series celebrating Canada 150.

The Armenian Embassy was one of the sixteen Embassies to take part in the event.

During the event His Worship Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa, visited the Armenian pavilion, where he learned about the achievements of the Armenian people in culture and arts. Mayor Watson spoke highly of the quality of Armenian presentation.

Throughout the event hundreds of guests who visited the Armenian pavilion were given the opportunity to learn about Armenian culture as well as cuisine and had the chance to sample traditional Armenian desserts.


President Serzh Sargsyan Will Conduct A Working Visit To The Republic Of Kyrgyzstan

Today, President Serzh Sargsyan has left for the Republic of Kyrgyzstan to participate at the session of the Eurasian Economic Supreme Council to be held in Bishkek on April 14 and the informal meeting of the Heads of State of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

Syrian-Armenian participants of charity exhibition-sale share stories about Easter, Syrian-Armenians and the homeland they discovered

This time the already traditional “Breath of Syrian-Armenian Culture in Yerevan” charity exhibition-sale was devoted to Easter. Nearly 50 Syrian-Armenians living in Yerevan showcased their handicraft items, silver items, pastries, as well as Oriental dishes and spices.

In an interview with Panorama.am, Ani Shamlian, who worked as a teacher in Aleppo, said she had been living in Armenia for four-and-a-half years.

“I was visiting the homeland for 15 days, but when the situation got worse in Aleppo, we were forced to stay here and start a business. I started making pastries. I participated in training courses, gained new knowledge and have been making pastries ever since. People know me from the exhibition-sales and often give me orders,” Mrs. Shamlian said.

She stated that the school in Aleppo where she worked is open, but her house is in very poor condition.

“As they say, we started getting along here, and we don’t want to go back to Aleppo,” the Aleppo-Armenian teacher added.

We also met Mr. and Mrs. Raffi and Yoland Rshtunis from Aleppo. As we had informed in one of our previous releases, the couple make pastries and run a small business.

They work at home, take orders and participate in the charity exhibition-sales.

“It will soon be five years since we moved to Armenia. We are trying to adapt, get acquainted with the market and expand our business. We already have our main clients. People are starting to know about us and are certain about the quality of our products,” Raffi Rshtuni said in an interview with Hayern Aysor.

Lena Shamlian, who makes handicraft items, said she was in peace in the homeland and was doing what she loves to do.

“We were selling bridal gowns and running a family business in Aleppo. We had started the business in 1985, but due to the war, we closed the store on July 23, 2012. People always ask us if we want to return, and I always say that we do. How can we not want to return? My home is in Aleppo, and it is obvious that I want to go and see it, but I will return to Armenia. We adapted to life here. What’s more, we loved it. There is something that keeps us here.”

Architect Vatche Anajoghlian and his family came to Armenia on a vacation in 2012 and have been living here ever since.

“The war broke out and we stayed. After a while, we realized that we couldn’t return. So, we decided to stay and start a business. I am here with my entire family. My daughter is already in her first year of studies at the local university,” Panorama.am.’s interlocutor said.

He stated that he worked as an architect for a while and went on to open a printing house.

“The fastest way to do business in Armenia is to open a food outlet. We saw that the people in Armenia have a growing interest in Oriental food, and we started making various kinds of Oriental spices, pastes and semi-fabricated foods. We now have a shop of our own,” Vatche Anajoghlian stated.

Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia Hranush Hakobyan was also visiting the exhibition-sale. She told journalists that she had also made purchases, including ishli kyufta, humus and other foods.

The Minister said she had suggested that the Syrian-Armenians continue to sell their products for another three days, but they rejected, saying that they also needed to go home and prepare for Easter. “They celebrate Easter in a special way. We still have a lot to learn from them in that regard,” the Minister said.

According to Hranush Hakobyan, Syrian-Armenians have taxing privileges in Armenia, and if they are represented as an individual entrepreneur, they pay taxes according to the procedure.

“We need to act within the limits of the laws of the Republic of Armenia, but during today’s government session, we set more privileges for customs and taxes. Our Minister of Economic Development and Investments provided several companies, including Syrian-Armenians’ drug-producing company with the opportunity to be exempt from the customs duty. If there is a business that has the potential to grow, our government is ready to discuss and find solutions for the given business,” the Minister said.

The Minister stressed the fact that the efforts of the country’s leader and government over the past five years have been aimed at helping Syrian-Armenians integrate into society and that the exhibition-sale was evidence of that. “We are trying to accelerate economic integration and carry out programs that can be highly beneficial for the development of small and medium businesses. There is no sphere in which doors are not open for Syrian-Armenians. Most of our compatriots have decided to settle in Armenia and never leave. Temporary hardships can be overcome step-by-step. All they need is time, and time is to their benefit.”

Sarkis Bedoian: “We always follow the “Ari Tun” Program with joy”

In his speech at the solemn opening ceremony of the 2017 “Ari Tun” Program of the RA Ministry of Diaspora for the homeland recognition of young Diaspora Armenians held on 10 April at the RA Ministry of Diaspora, benefactor Sarkis Bedoian, under whose sponsorship the students of the St. Mesrop-Arabian Armenian School of Alfortville, the “Dprotsaser” Armenian School of Paris and Hamazkayin School of Marseille have arrived in Armenia, stated that he has been sponsoring the students’ visits ever since he became the honorary chairman of the St. Mesrop-Arabian School. Over the years, the parents of the students have joined them with excitement and with the awareness that it is important for their children to visit Armenia.

“Throughout the years, our desire has been to make sure young Diaspora Armenians visiting Armenia become connected to their roots, get better acquainted with Armenian traditions and return to France with the Homeland in their souls. We always follow the “Ari Tun” Program with joy and are certain that by visiting Yerablur Military Pantheon, Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and the other sites through the “Ari Tun” Program, French-Armenian boys will feel patriotic and perhaps serve in the Armenian Army in the future and defend our borders,” Sarkis Bedoian said, as reported Hayern Aysor.

The benefactor went on to remind the boys and girls that the Armenians are a strong and unified nation with 8-10 million people and urged them to be proud to be the sons of that nation.

At the end, Sarkis Bedoian expressed gratitude to Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia Hranush Hakobyan for the cordial reception and the willingness to cooperate and assured that they would continue to show active participation in the “Ari Tun” Program in the years to come.

Gevorg Chichyan

“Breath of Syrian-Armenian Culture in Yerevan” charity exhibition-sale opens

On 13 April, RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan visited the already traditional “Breath of Syrian-Armenian Culture in Yerevan” charity exhibition-sale, which opened at Yerevan Mall at the initiative of the RA Ministry of Diaspora and the Center for Coordination of Syrian-Armenians’ Issues NGO. The charity exhibition-sale is being held on the occasion of Holy Resurrection Day (Easter).

As reported Hayern Aysor, the Minister toured the pavilions, was introduced to the works of the Syrian-Armenians, highly appreciated their culture of service and style of providing services and particularly expressed admiration of their handicraft items.

Afterwards, the Minister of Diaspora answered journalists’ questions and particularly stated the following: “Over the past five years, the programs and projects of Armenia’s leadership and government have been aimed at making sure Syrian-Armenians settle, stay and live in their Homeland, that is, Armenia and become socially integrated, and evidence of this are the charity exhibition-sales that are targeted at their social integration. Over 50 entrepreneurs or small businessmen are currently showing and selling their products, finding partners and expanding their businesses. The Ministry of Diaspora, in partnership with the UN House in Armenia, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), are trying to speed up the economic integration of the Syrian-Armenians. We have solved all the social and educational issues. Syrian-Armenians can work in all sectors, and we find paths to help them.”

Bedros Gyourounlian: “I am very certain that Armenia will definitely flourish!”

Armenians settled in Greece, one of the cradles of ancient civilization and located near the coasts of Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas, back in the 5th-6th centuries, established cities, churches, schools, cultural centers, newspapers, factories, remarkable companies and created various industries. During my interview with Athens-based Armenian businessman Bedros Gyourounlian at the editorial office of Hayern Aysor, I had another opportunity to admire the exceptional, God-given talent, diligence and leap of thought of an Armenian.

Karine Avagyan: Welcome to Armenia, Mr. Gyourounlian. I have been told that you are a businessman and manufacturer. Please tell us what you manufacture.

Bedros Gyourounlian: I am following in the footsteps of my ancestors. My two sons and I run a meat factory that my grandfather had opened in 1922. We have named it after my father, Miran.

Karine Avagyan: Where are you originally from?

Bedros Gyourounlian: My mother’s roots trace back to Adana, and my father’s-to Kapdovkia (Kesaria). My parents were born in Greece, and so were we. Armenians have always had a great presence in Greece and have stood out in all spheres with their talents.

Karine Avagyan: When did you first visit Armenia? What changes have you noticed?

Bedros Gyourounlian: I was in Armenia in 1992-93 when there was no water or electricity. I see a tremendous change. It seems as though I am in a different world. Yerevan is as big and famous as other cities like Athens and London and has advantages that other cities don’t. For instance, it is safe, and the people are cordial and hospitable. All Armenians in Armenia and abroad should love and work for the Homeland. I am very certain that Armenia will definitely flourish!

Karine Avagyan: Mr. Gyourounlian, do you only manufacture Armenian products (basturma, sujukh, kyufta and other semi-fabricated products)?

Bedros Gyourounlian: We produce a variety of Armenian and European traditional foods and deliver them to the stores pertaining to our company based in Greece.

Karine Avagyan: Don’t you deliver your products outside of Greece?

Bedros Gyourounlian: We do! We also send our products to France, Sweden and Austria.

Karine Avagyan: Do you plan on cooperating with Armenian businessmen?

Bedros Gyourounlian: We are considering it, but there are some hardships. However, we can overcome them. We have already established contacts.

Karine Avagyan: How long have you been a friend of the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia?

Bedros Gyourounlian: I have known the Minister for a long time. We met in Armenia and then in Athens. My visit to the Ministry on 12 April coincided with the Minister’s birthday, and I had a nice opportunity to congratulate her and wish that she always undertakes wonderful initiatives and continues the major task for the benefit of Armenia and the Diaspora.

Karine Avagyan: Mr. Gyourounlian, months ago, the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia launched the “What are YOU doing for Artsakh?” pan-Armenian movement. Have you heard about it? Have you joined that movement?

Bedros Gyourounlian: We have helped Artsakh for many years and many times. We have donated various types of medical equipment to the hospital in Stepanakert. I have visited Artsakh often, starting from the years of the first Artsakh war. I love the magnificent nature in Artsakh. My family and I have also made our contribution. Fourteen years ago, I gave my home to the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Greece for free, and it is currently based there.

Karine Avagyan: Thank you, dear compatriot! We hope your meat products take over the Armenian market in the near future.

Interview by Karine Avagyan

Hranush Hakobyan receives Director of the Office of Lebanon’s Minister of Programming Sebouh Mkhchian

RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan received Director of the Office of the Minister of Programming of Lebanon Sebouh Mkhchian.

The Minister cordially greeted the guest and attached importance to the role that Lebanese-Armenian state figures play in the development of Armenian-Lebanese relations.

The sides discussed issues on the upcoming official visit of Minister of Programming of Lebanon Michel Pharaon to Armenia.

The Minister highly appreciated the pro-Armenian stance and actions of the Lebanese political figure and voiced hope that his visit would become the start of the implementation of new programs for cooperation.

Sebouh Mkhchian expressed gratitude for the cordial reception and assured that he was ready to help do anything for his homeland.