Armenian PM: “The government is interested in creating an environment in which young people will be able to express themselves and participate in the country’s development”

Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan attended the Shape Eurasia-2017 Conference of the World Economic Forum taking place under the title “National Competitiveness: Shape Your Advantage” in Yerevan.

Welcoming the conduct of the conference in Armenia, the Prime Minister, with satisfaction, stated that the Global Shapers Center in Yerevan has grown over the past five years and that he has the honor of hosting the participants. “For the past 47 years, the World Economic Forum has created this platform where we discuss how we can have a more prosperous and developing world in economic and business environments. This is the platform where the current agenda and innovative trends are shaped, i.e. the fourth industrial revolution or the main topic of the upcoming Davos 2018. I think you have fantastic perspectives. You are all young, full of energy and have formed your ego by yourselves, and by meeting here, you can exchange views and experiences, establish ties and participate in the formation of the current agendas and shape the future,” Karen Karapetyan stated. According to the Prime Minister, the Government of the Republic of Armenia is extremely interested in creating an environment in which young people will be able to express themselves, be successful and participate in their country’s development.

Afterwards, Prime Minister Karapetyan hosted the participants in the government and answered their questions related to the Armenian Diaspora, the trends of world economy, the challenges, the areas of reforms underway in Armenia and more. The participants of the conference expressed gratitude to the Prime Minister for the reception, for supporting Shape Eurasia-2017 and granted the title of Honorary Member of Global Shapers to Karen Karapetyan.

The goal of Global Shapers Community, which s considered an initiative of the World Economic Forum, is to consolidate young leaders around the idea of “improving the situation in the world”. It is organized in the format of networking centers, the operation of which is aimed at creating programs that have a local impact. The community of Shapers includes more than 6,800 young leaders from 170 countries around the world.


31st family living in shack in Gyumri receives an apartment

The Petrosyans, who are a six-member family, have been living in a shack for the past 22 years. Samvel Petrosyan, the head of the family, is involved in seasonal trade of fruits and vegetables. Mariam, the mother, is unemployed. Samvel’s and Mariam’s elder son, Narek has just returned from military service at the Yeghnikner military unit in Artsakh. Their daughter, Liana has returned to her paternal home after her divorce along with her one-year-old daughter, Flora. The sixth member of the family is Karen, who is a schoolchild.

With funding from the German affiliate, Hayastan All-Armenian Fund had a surprise in store for the family, that is, their apartment located in the Mush District. On September 25, representatives of the German affiliate, led by Gilbert Momjian, personally handed the keys to the apartment over to the family.

The Petrosyans are the 31st family in Gyumri to move from a shack to a home with the support of Hayastan All-Armenian Fund. The Fund has been providing families living in shacks in Gyumri with apartments since 2014. Resettlement for the families has been made possible through all the funds raised during the Telethon held in Los Angeles in 2014, the telethons that followed, the donations from benefactors and funding from the German affiliate of the Fund.

Choirs of Georgian-Armenian Diocese participated in “We Sing Komitas” Pan-Armenian Festival

From September 25 to 28, 2017, the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia organized and sponsored the “We Sing Komitas” Pan-Armenian Festival, gathering choirs and soloists from Armenia, Artsakh and 12 other countries.

The cultural department of the Georgian-Armenian Diocese, with the blessing and patriarchal wishes of Primate, His Grace, Fr. Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan, was represented with three choirs that perform under the auspices of the Diocese. Among those choirs are the Makar Yekmalyan Choir of the St. George Church of Tbilisi (choirmaster Svetlana Tatoyeva and pianist Karen Mirzoyan), Saint Nerses Shnorhali Junior Choir of Hayartun Center (Maria Abulyan) and Aghbyur Choir of Alexander Mantashyants Center (choirmaster Ruzanna Ovanisyan).

The participation of the choirs of the Georgian-Armenian Diocese was facilitated by director of the cultural department Levon Chidilyan and Rev. Fr. Priest Ararat Gumbalyan.

The Aghbyur Choir of Alexander Mantashyants Center of Batumi had the honor of performing during the opening concert of the festival.

The three choirs of the Georgian-Armenian Diocese gave professional performances of Komitas’s songs in Vanadzor, Gyumri and Yerevan and were warmly received everywhere.

Each day of the “We Sing Komitas” Pan-Armenian Festival was interesting and featured many events. The members of the choirs laid flowers at the tomb of the eternal composer, visited Komitas Museum-Institute, respected the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide at Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex, visited the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute and the House-Museum of Sergey Parajanov.

On September 28, the Makar Yekmalyan and Saint Nerses Shnorhali Choirs of the Georgian-Armenian Diocese performed during the gala concert marking the end of the festival at Aram Khachaturian Grand Concert Hall on September 28.

Wrapping up the days of the “We Sing Komitas” Pan-Armenian Festival, RA Deputy Minister of Diaspora Serzh Srapionyan appreciated the big role that such festivals play in bringing Diaspora Armenians close to the mother homeland, preserving the Armenian identity and developing national culture. The festival became an impressive and unforgettable event for the participating choirs. Deputy Minister Srapionyan granted certificates of participation to the choirmasters of the choirs.

The “We Sing Komitas” Pan-Armenian Festival ended with a performance of Arno Babajanyan’s “Azg Parapants” song.

For the Armenian choirs of Georgia, the days of the pan-Armenian festival ended with a pilgrimage to Sevanavank Monastery.

Foreign investors interested in operations at Meghri Free Economic Zone

Foreign investors show interest towards the operations at Meghri Free Economic Zone at Armenia’s southern Syunik Province, in the area bordering the Islamic Republic of Iran.

At today’s meeting with Armenian Minister of Economic Development and Investments, Suren Karayan, the foreign businessmen noted that by conducting a research over the free economic zone they came to the conclusion that it is highly attractive in terms of making investments.

The businessmen highlighted the free economic zone can function as a corridor between Iran, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the European Union, expressing readiness to make investments in two directions – production enterprise and entertainment services.

The meeting was also attended by Armenian-Russian businessman Ara Abrahamyan.

Hranush Hakobyan: “The Pan-Armenian Council will be established by May 2018”

The Pan-Armenian Council will be established by May 2018. The development of the mechanisms is underway. This is what Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia Hranush Hakobyan told journalists during the Second International Forum of Eurasian Partnership.

When asked if there would be one or more chairpersons, the Minister said the following: “It is under consideration. I can’t respond on behalf of everyone.”

When told that Diaspora Armenians are complaining about the fact that such a large institution can’t be governed by one person, Hranush Hakobyan stated the following: “There are differing views. I can’t accept one person’s view as a basis and say I agree or disagree. There is a committee, and it is operating.”

Are the rumors that the Council will be under the direction of President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan true? In response to this question, the Minister said the following:

“I repeat-nobody has determined the mechanism and the composition of the Council. When we meet, we will specify who will be a part of the Council, and then I will decide who the acceptable candidates are,” she added.

Tasting-competition of nearly 100 types of Armenian wines launched ahead of Areni Wine Festival

“We are hosting the Areni Wine Festival for the ninth time. During the festival, we will be hosting guests of honor and will be holding a major event (wine tasting-competition) with the Yerevan Wine Academy for the first time. This will foster the development and recognizability of Armenian wine,” Director of the Areni Festival Foundation Nune Manukyan declared during an October 6 press conference.

Attaching importance to the festival, Executive Director of the Viticulture and Winemaking Foundation of Armenia Zaruhi Muradyan emphasized the following: “We are very glad that we can mitigate the worries of the festival’s organizers a little this year and make it more professional and presentable along with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). We hope it becomes more of a success every year. Such events not only help the increase the level of recognizability of Armenian wines, but also help enhance the wine culture in the domestic market and restore the once common tradition of drinking wine in Armenia. We have also invited the top foreign media representatives shedding light on the wine sector, and we will present our culture to them during the festival. Tasting-competitions and the opinions of highly recognized wine experts about the quality of Armenian wines and their evaluations are also very important for the development of winemaking.”

During the tasting-competition, Armenian wines were rated by the top international experts from Germany, France, Greece and Finland.

In particular, German winemaker Christian Clos praised the diversity of the unique local sorts of Armenian grapes and stated the following: “Many countries use internationally known and common sorts in wine production, but Armenia places emphasis on endemic sorts, highlighting the uniqueness of Armenian wines. I would also like to express my greetings to young Armenian specialists who have received an education abroad and have returned to their homeland to develop local winemaking.”

Yerevan Wine Academy still continues to host the tasting of nearly 100 types of wines produced by 21 Armenian winemaking companies, and the results will be summed up during the Areni Wine Festival on October 7.

President receives OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs

President Serzh Sargsyan received today OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs Igor Popov (Russia), Andrew Schofer (USA), Stefan Visconti (France) and Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk.

The meeting focused on the possibilities for advancing the process of peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including issues related to the organization of a meeting between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Reference was made to the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.

The participants of the meeting stressed the need for the sides to the conflict to observe their commitment to the peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Inter-Agency Commission on Coordination of Syrian-Armenians’ Issues holds subsequent session

On October 6, the Inter-Agency Commission on Coordination of Syrian-Armenians’ Issues held its subsequent session at the RA Ministry of Diaspora. The session was chaired by RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan.

The RA Minister of Diaspora emphasized the fact that the issues of Syrian-Armenians having moved to Armenia due to the Syrian war have always been in the focus of the Government of Armenia. “During the daily activities that we carry out with Syrian-Armenians, we noticed that they are not sufficiently aware of the laws of the Republic of Armenia and don’t know much about their rights and responsibilities. So, we decided to create a handbook of frequently asked legal questions for people having moved to Armenia from Syria and other conflict zones. The handbook was created through a grant provided by the Population, Refugee and Migration Bureau of the U.S. Department of State,” the Minister stated.

Afterwards, Deputy Director of AGBU Armenia Hovik Yordekyan delivered a report on the support shown to Syrian-Armenians and the upcoming programs for Syrian-Armenians. Mr. Yordekyan stated that the AGBU will continue the program for reimbursement of the tuitions for Syrian-Armenian students along with the Government of the Republic of Armenia and other institutions in the 2017-18 Academic Year as well.

Coordinator of the programs for support to Syrian-Armenians of AMCOR Armenia Foundation Anahit Gasparyan talked about the support that AMCOR provides to Syrian-Armenians.

Head of the Department of General Education at Yerevan Municipality Anna Stepanyan presented the current stage of the integration of Syrian-Armenian children in schools in Yerevan and informed that special attention is paid to the engagement of Syrian-Armenian children in various events.

The issue of organizing Western Armenian language courses in certain schools of Yerevan was also considered.

Head of the Department for Armenian Communities in the Near East and Middle East at the RA Ministry of Diaspora Levon Antonyan delivered a report on organizing the summer vacation of Syrian-Armenian children. Touching upon the organizational activities, the speaker said the Ministry of Diaspora hosts meetings with representatives of the partnering organizations before the summer camp event every year and considers the possible options for cooperation in organizing camping programs. “This year, the Syrian-Armenian children spent their vacation at the summer camp set up for them through the “Ari Tun” Program, as well as at the camp in Sevan, the Aragats and Shoghik Camps in Hankavan and the Gugark Camp in the Vahagnadzor village of Lori Province. Overall, the Ministry organized the summer vacation for 171 Syrian-Armenian children this year,” Antonyan stated.

RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan attached importance to the organizing of Syrian-Armenian children’s summer vacation at various camps across Armenia and stated that this helps strengthen their spiritual and physical health, mental development and makes them happy.

The Minister expressed gratitude to the representatives of the partnering organizations who have always stood by the side of Syrian-Armenian children throughout the years and urged them to include the setting up of summer camps for Syrian-Armenian children as a separate component in the upcoming programs when drawing up the budget for the year to come.

Diaspora Minister receives Primate of Armenian Diocese of Bulgaria and editor-in-chief of Yerevan Armenian Newspaper

On October 6, RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan received Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Bulgaria, Fr. Archimandrite Isahak Poghosyan and editior-in-chief of Yerevan Armenian newspaper (Bulgaria’s oldest Armenian-language newspaper), Co-Chair of the Armenian National Committee of Bulgaria Vardanush Topakashyan.

Greeting the guests, the Minister of Diaspora highly appreciated their active efforts for preservation of the Armenian identity within the Armenian community. “Armenia’s empowerment, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, the preservation of the Armenian identity, consolidation around the Armenian Church and the issues of Syrian-Armenians – these are all issues that have become pan-Armenian issues today, and to solve those issues, we need to consolidate the potential of all Armenians around the world. To do all this, the thousands of Armenian communities of the Diaspora must be first and foremost unified and consolidated. So, I call on you to get to know and trust each other, bring those detached from the community back to an Armenian environment, create a warm atmosphere, organize events and meetings often, speak in Armenian and present Armenian songs and dances,” Hranush Hakobyan stated. The Minister also introduced the guests to the programs of the Ministry of Diaspora for the year 2018. “Next year, we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the declaration of the Republic of Armenia and the battles of the month of May, and all of our programs will be devoted to this episode in the history of the Armenians’ victories. I must also mention the “My Armenia” Pan-Armenian Festival. The previous festival gathered nearly 1,500 Diaspora Armenians from 16 countries around the world, and I am certain that the number of participants will grow and the geography will expand next year. The “Ari Tun” Program and the “Diaspora” Summer School Program will continue next year. In the near future, we will hold the Euro-Caucasian Congress of Cardiology and hold grand events to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Mekhitarist Congregation and the 175th anniversary of the “Bazmavep” Armenian journal. The Ministry will also publish the “Armenian Diaspora Yearbook”, which is a unique summary of the results of the Armenia-Diaspora partnership. I hope the Armenian community of Bulgaria shows more active participation in the programs of the Ministry next year.

The guests expressed gratitude for the cordial reception and presented the problems, hardships and achievements of the Armenian community of Bulgaria. “Yerevan Armenian Newspaper continues publishing and has 1,200 subscribers. We are trying to inform the community about the daily activities in Armenia, Armenia’s opportunities and Artsakh. Recently, I found out that the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Bulgaria also consistently reads our newspaper, and it is clear that he has a negative attitude towards Armenian propaganda. We closely work with the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Bulgaria. The Coordinating Council of Armenian Organizations and Institutions has been around in Sofia for a long time, and its main goal is to consolidate the potential of the Armenian community,” Vardanush Topakashyan stated.

Fr. Archimandrite Isahak Poghosyan emphasized that in spite of the hardships and disagreements, the community is active, and evidence of this are the 35 events and initiatives held as part of the events dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. “On October 3, Yerevan hosted the opening of Bulgarian-Armenian painter Petik Petrosyan’s exhibition, which was organized through the combined efforts of the painter’s cousin Gevorg Grigoryan, the AGBU and the National Galleries of Armenia and Sofia. The exhibition gathered a 40-member delegation, including Bulgarian state and cultural figures and representatives of the Bulgarian-Armenian community. I am very glad that, in addition to the exhibition, we also brought the air and spirit of the Armenian community to the homeland,” Fr. Archimandrite Isahak Poghosyan stated.

109,000 tourists visited Akhtamar Island in Van in past 9 months

Throughout the nine months of the year 2017, 109,000 tourists have visited Akhtamar Island in Van, reported the Turkish Cumhuriyet newspaper. The newspaper also reports that the number of tourists having visited the island between January and September 2017 has grown by 25.5 percent compared to the previous year. In 2016, 82,000 tourists visited Akhtamar.

The  active season for tourism in Van is considered the summer when thousands of tourists visit the island.

According to the newspaper, Iranians make up the prevailing majority of the tourists who visit the island that has become remarkable for the historic Armenian churches located on the island.

Let us remind that the Holy Cross Armenian Church, which was built by King Gagik Artsruni in the 10th century, is located on Akhtamar Island and is famous with its frescos and ornaments.

In 2007, the Turkish authorities renovated the church, which now operates as a museum. A religious ritual is only permitted once a year on the Sunday following or preceding the Khachverats Day. However, over the past two years, there has not been any Mass served in the church due to the clashes between Kurds and Turkish forces.

Rafi Baghdjian is new CEO of IDeA

Rafi Baghdjian has been appointed CEO of Initiatives for Development of Armenia (IDeA) Foundation.

Rafi has over 35 years of experience with Shell, covering the technical, commercial and leadership aspects of the energy business. He worked as Chief Operating Officer of Shell UK before retiring from the company.

“The recent years were a period of formation for IDeA. We are hopeful that Rafi Baghdjian’s experience and knowledge will help the Foundation facilitate the development of cultural and social entrepreneurship in Armenia,” said IDeA co-founders Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend.

“I am delighted to join IDeA Foundation. It is a great pleasure to serve my motherland, bringing in my 35-year experience with Shell from around the world,” noted Baghdjian.

Edgar Manukyan, who had headed IDeA since July 2015, resigned to engage in private business.

“We are thankful to Edgar for his great job and particular contribution to the creation of UWC Dilijan and we wish him success in his future endeavors,” stated Vardanyan and Zonabend.

Rafi was born in Beirut in 1956 and graduated as a chemical engineer from Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Lille (France) in 1981.

Baghdjian started his career with Shell in The Hague in 1984. He held different positions within the company thoughout the years and in 2012 became the Chief Operating Officer at Shell Abu Dhabi. In May 2016, Rafi was named a Chief Operating Officer of Shell UK.

In February 2017, he was appointed CEO for Middle East and North Africa at N2Growth.

Rafi Baghdjian is married and has two sons.

The Inaugural Diaspora Dialogues Will Be Held In Armenia

Armenia will host the inaugural Diaspora Dialogues, a gathering of diaspora leaders, between October 8-10, 2017 in Dilijan and Yerevan. The inaugural Dialogues are organized by leadership development organization, Common Purpose, in cooperation with UWC Dilijan and with the support of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative.
“The world over, people face complex problems that cross boundaries. And so we need leaders who can cross the boundaries too. The Diaspora Dialogues is a unique opportunity to bring together exceptional leaders who have spent their lives crossing boundaries. It’s enormously exciting,” said Julia Middleton, Founder and Group Chief Executive, Common Purpose.
The participants of Diaspora Dialogues come from diverse backgrounds and experiences of multiple cultures and geographies. They represent education, business, philanthropy, innovation, civil society and humanitarian organizations.
“There is no coincidence that the inaugural Diaspora Dialogues are being held at UWC Dilijan in Armenia because this is a hub for future leaders who are becoming bridges for different communities and fighting the fragmentation in the world. We welcome diaspora leaders in UWC Dilijan with the confidence that through sharing knowledge and experiences we will create and develop new ideas that will lead to practical actions in our societies,” said Veronika Zonabend, Co-founder and Chair of the Board of Governors of UWC Dilijan where Aurora Dialogues were held in 2016 and 2017.
During three days through a dynamic and well tested process called ‘innoventure’ the participants of Diaspora Dialogues, including UWC Dilijan students, will exchange ideas, strategies and inspiration. There will be no ‘speakers’ in the traditional sense because participants themselves will provide the content. They will share their knowledge and experience as part of the carefully curated process.
The organizers expect to create a source of thought leadership which can be shared with a wider audience through blogs, or essays and possibly a book to develop the next generation of bridge builders as well as to establish a web of solidarity across different diaspora communities that provides support in times of need, and builds bridges across the world.

Opening ceremony of newly built mausoleum of Petros Duryan to be held

On October 7, the opening of the newly built mausoleum of Petros Duryan will be held at the Armenian cemetery in the Skyutar District of Istanbul. As reported Hayern Aysor, the idea of the mausoleum was conceived by Davit Aynal, and the project was carried out by the “HayTchar” Society of Armenian Architects and Engineers of Istanbul. Construction was funded by France-based brothers Hrach-Anoushavan and Hagop Krmazians. Duryan’s poem “My Death” is carved on the front of the mausoleum.

“We Armenians have a very rich history that we must preserve. With this, we want to pay our respects to the poet who died prematurely and convey to the generations the idea of keeping the memory of people like Duryan alive,” Hrach-Anoushavan Krmzian told Hayern Aysor.

Let us mention that the Palyan family cemetery memorial of the famous Istanbul-Armenian architects was also built under the sponsorship of Hrach-Anoushavan and Hagop Krmzians and was opened on October 1, 2016.

Monet Ter-Grigoryan: “Our greatest reward is the smile on a child’s face”

On October 6, RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan received President of the Armenian School Foundation of the United States of America Monet Ter-Grigoryan.

The Minister cordially greeted the guest and highly appreciated the Foundation’s activities and the program aimed at helping schools in Armenia and providing them with furniture. The Minister expressed her satisfaction with the opening of the Foundation’s representation in Armenia and particularly said the following: “I am pleased with and thankful for the time and effort you put in to help improve the education sector in Armenia and Artsakh, putting smiles on the faces of children in remote settlements and making going to school a pleasant and mood-setting experience. I think, from now on, we will collaborate through the program targeted at the solution to the problems of bordering settlements, and in your turn, you will help keep the borders strong and secure.”

Expressing gratitude for the cordial reception, Monet Ter-Grigoryan presented the Foundation’s programs under implementation and stated that the Armenian School Foundation has expanded its activities through ongoing fundraisers over the past fourteen years. Thanks to the Foundation’s contributors, to this day, 260 schools with nearly 24,000 students have received new tables, chairs, accessories for teachers, blackboards, bookcases, desks for computers, hangers and other primary school accessories. The Armenian School Foundation has successfully completed several programs. The Foundation has produced the furniture in Armenia, creating jobs and resources for the local population.

The President of the Armenian School Foundation expressed willingness to collaborate and stated that the Foundation will also actively help schools in the bordering villages, creating a proper and comfortable teaching environment and making the learning process become more effective for the young generations of Armenia and Artsakh.

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