National, International, Armenia, and Community News and Opinion

reporter.am

National, International, Armenia, and Community News and Opinion

Arpa Film

Festival to

feature The

River Ran Red

See story on page 6m

World-renowned

doctors to perform

50 life-changing

surgeries

See story on page 14m

All that

jazz

See story on

page C10m

Western U.S. Edition

Number 82

October 4, 2008

the armenian

reporter

Soldiers from the United States (far right), Armenia (far left), and other countries at the opening ceremony of NATO exercises in Armenia. Photo: Armen Hakobyan for the Armenian Reporter.

Cooperative Longbow/Lancer

NATO military training exercises

commence in Armenia

Reporter.am

See story on page 16 m


The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008

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Number 82

October 4, 2008

Editorial

Armenian Reporter endorses Obama-Biden

“Seldom do we face such a straightforward

choice,” the Armenian Reporter

notes in its editorial this

week. “As we compare the records

of the candidates for president

and vice president of the United

States, we find that, as U.S. citizens

and as Armenian-Americans,

we have every reason to throw our

strong support behind Senator

Barack Obama and Senator Joe

Biden.”

The Obama-Biden ticket also

enjoys the strong support of the

Armenian National Committee of

America (ANCA) and the U.S.-Armenia

Public Affairs Committee

(USAPAC).

See editorial on page 18 m

Armenia

World-renowned doctors to perform 50 lifechanging

surgeries in Armenia this week

Community

More than a dozen doctors, nurses,

and other specialists are in Yerevan

this week to perform 50 lifealtering

operations on clients with

cleft lip, cleft palate, or both, Paul

Chaderjian reports.

The operations will be realized

through Project Smile. Project

Smile was initiated by the Cafesjian

Family Foundation, Hope for

the City, and the Smile Network

which leads similar projects around

the world. The three Minneapolisbased

organizations have come together

to address cleft-care needs

in Armenia.

See story on page 14m

A profile of Armen Stepanian, the Christopher

Columbus of recycling

Armen Stepanian began promoting

recycling at a time when the

United States was gripped with

an energy crisis brought on by

the OPEC oil embargo. As he witnessed

the long lines in front of

gas stations, he realized that the

country’s energy future would be

in peril without conservation and

sustainable consumption practices.

It was in 1975 when Mr. Stepanian

and a group of volunteers initiated

Organizers of the William Saroyan

Centennial Celebration are calling

their year-long tribute to the Pulitzer

Prize–winning author a success.

A group of Saroyan enthusiasts

from Fresno have spent three years

planning the almost 100 individual

projects in honor of Fresno’s native

son. “It’s been extremely rewarding,”

said Larry Balakian, one of

the lead organizers of the Saroyan

Centennial Celebration. Saroyan

Community

Community

Barack Obama with Joe Biden on April

8. AP Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais.

and successfully implemented the

first recycling program in Seattle.

The initiative was to be the first

of its kind in the United States.

Hailed as a hero for both pioneering

the recycling movement and

educating people to adopt conservation

and recycling practices, Mr.

Stepanian is unhappy with how the

movement has evolved.

See story on page 7m

From lower left, Hratch Abdulian, Hratch Hovsepian, and Raffi Pilavian serving up

prpoor at the second annual Grand Armenian Festival in Fresno.

See story on page 8 m

Saroyan centenary continues with Fresno events

lived a good portion of his life in

California’s San Joaquin Valley,

drawing a great deal of inspiration

from its agricultural communities.

“Saroyan is one of the great giants,”

said Edward EmanuEl, theater director

at California State University,

Fresno. “His work has reached

millions. Saroyan is still as valuable

today as when he was writing.”

See story on page 9 m

the armenian

reporter

Holy Muron is blessed at

Etchmiadzin in ancient ritual

Pilgrims joins

bishops from around

the world

by Antranig Dereyan

VAGHARSHAPAT, Armenia – It

is an ancient ritual that typically

takes place every seven years. In a

ceremony that combined solemnity

with pageantry, the Mother See

of the Armenian Church on Sunday,

September 28, replenished its supply

of muron, or chrism, the holy

oil used for baptism, ordination,

and other rituals.

“It is the unity symbol of the Armenian

Church,” said Archbishop

Nerses Bozabalyan. The bishops

come together to bless the chrism,

and then each takes some of it to

his diocese, where he distributes it

to all the churches in his jurisdiction,

the archbishop explained.

The day was dark and gloomy,

and rain seemed inevitable. But

the ceremony would go on, rain or

shine, at the open-air Saint Trdat

altar at Etchmiadzin.

Continued on page 11 m

Abp. Barkev Martirossian holds a sacred relic, the right hand of Saint Gregory the

Illuminator, while Catholicos Karekin II adds an ingredient to the muron, on Sept.

28 at Etchmiadzin. Photo: Photolure.

Armenian Genocide Museum

litigation moves to discovery phase

Experts to examine

books and records

of Assembly and

AGM&M

WASHINGTON – The U.S. District

Court for the District of Columbia

has confirmed the schedule for discovery

and depositions in the ongoing

litigation over the future of

the Armenian Genocide Museum

and Memorial (AGM&M) in Washington.

The parties will be required

to respond to interrogatories and

requests for the production of documents

by mid-October. Depositions

will begin in late November or

early December, and be completed

by mid-January.

The project to develop and build

a museum and memorial was

launched over eight years ago, in

2000, when Anoush Mathevosian

and Gerard Cafesjian donated

the funds to acquire a site in

Washington.

In November 2003 the project

was transferred from the Armenian

Assembly of America to a newly

formed entity, the Armenian Genocide

Museum and Memorial, Inc.

The Assembly, however, was given a

trustee position on AGM&M board.

At that time, Mr. Cafesjian donated

four additional properties, acquired

at a cost of over $12,500,000, to expand

the project site.

Mr. Cafesjian and the Cafesjian

Family Foundation are the largest

supporters of the Armenian Genocide

Museum and Memorial project,

with pledges and donations of over

$17,500.000. Mr. Cafesjian and CFF

Trustee contributions to the AGMM

Financial contributions by former and current members of the Board of

Trustees of Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial (AGMM) for the

benefit of the AGMM as of September 2006.

are entitled to three of the six votes

on the AGM&M Board of Trustees.

However, Mr. Hovnanian and the

Assembly have used their board

positions to block Mr. Cafesjian’s

work on the project. Since May

2007, Mr. Hovnanian and the Assembly

have excluded Mr. Cafesjian

and CFF from all AGM&M decisions,

in breach of all donor agreements

and the AGM&M by-laws.

“Mr. Cafesjian donated over seventeen

million dollars, and significant

time and effort, in an attempt

to help build the Armenian

Genocide museum,” said Cafesjian

Family Foundation Vice President

John Waters. “Unfortunately, Mr.

Cafesjian’s contributions have been

met with no comparable support.

Mr. Cafesjian still supports development

of a museum project that

Armenians can be proud of.”

The discovery stage of the litigation

will require AGM&M and the

Assembly to turn over their books

and records to CFF. The Cafesjian

Family Foundation’s legal and financial

experts will then examine

those books and records in detail,

in order to determine the precise

nature of the Assembly’s actions

in breaching its donor agreements

with Mr. Cafesjian.

“We are looking forward to telling

our story, under oath, including

our motivations and efforts in

planning and designing the museum.

We are confident the truth will

emerge and the issues will be resolved

so that the project can move

forward,” said Mr. Waters. f


The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008

National

Washington briefing

as a text sent to the ANCA on February

1. Both communications

acknowledged the Armenian community’s

contributions to America

and Armenia’s cooperation

with the United States, but did

not promise any positive changes

in U.S. policy on matters of significance

to Armenian-Americans,

such as the Armenian Genocide

issue.

Levan

Gachechiladze

with Zeyno

Baran of Hudson

Institute. Photo:

Armenian

Reporter.

by Emil Sanamyan and

Lusine Sarkisyan

U.S. Ambassador-

Designate to Turkey

clarifies position on

Genocide

U.S. ambassadors to Ottoman Turkey

Henry Morgenthau (1913–16)

and Abram Elkus (1916–17) and

other contemporary U.S. diplomats

described in their communications

“an attempt to exterminate the Armenian

population,” ambassadordesignate

to Turkey James Jeffrey

noted in a written response

to questions for the record from

Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Chair and vice-presidential candidate

Sen. Joe Biden (D.-Del.)

The exchange, released by the

Armenian National Committee of

America (ANCA) on September 26,

was part of the Senate committee’s

consideration of Mr. Jeffrey’s candidacy

to be the next U.S. ambassador

to Turkey and a congressional

effort to correct the Bush administration

language on the Armenian

Genocide.

Mr. Jeffrey promised that if

confirmed he would continue to

encourage “Turkey to come to

terms with the dark spots in its

history and establishing an honest

dialogue within Turkey on these

events,” as well as support normalization

of relations between Turkey

and Armenia.

Meanwhile, Senator John Mc-

Cain of Arizona, the Republican

presidential candidate, released

a statement to Armenian-Americans

on September 29. The statement

was substantially the same

Says scope of

program shrunk

because of dram

appreciation

by Emil Sanamyan

Ambassador Nabi Sensoy of Turkey,

who attended an Independence Day

reception at the Armenian Embassy

in Washington. Photo: Embassy of

Turkey.

Senior U.S., Russian,

and Turkish officials

mark Armenia’s

independence

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce

David Bohigian, the U.S.

State Department’s coordinator

for Eurasian energy, Ambassador

Steven Mann, newly appointed

Russian ambassador to the United

States Sergei Kislyak, and, significantly,

Ambassador Nabi Sensoy

of Turkey were among more

than 100 guests at a reception on

September 30 at the Armenian

Embassy in Washington to mark

Armenia’s independence.

According to present and former

Armenian Embassy staff, this was

the first time since the Armenian

Embassy in the United States was

established that a Turkish Ambassador

attended one of its formal

functions. Ambassador Sensoy’s

unprecedented gesture comes

weeks after the first-ever visit to

Armenia by a Turkish president.

(One source told the Reporter

that in 1999 Turkish Ambassador

Baki Ilkin together with Azerbaijani

Ambassador Hafiz Pashayev

visited the Armenian Embassy to

pay an informal farewell to outgoing

Ambassador Ruben Shugarian.

But neither Turkish nor Azerbaijani

diplomats have attended Independence

Day or Armed Forces

Day receptions regularly held by

the Embassy.)

WASHINGTON – In public remarks

at the headquarters of the

Millennium Challenge Corporation

(MCC) on October 1, Alex Russin,

the corporation’s resident country

director for Armenia, outlined the

program’s goals, while sharing his

concerns about Armenia’s continued

eligibility under the good-governance

criteria.

Mr. Russin said that only about

$20 million has been spent in nearly

two years since the $235 million,

five-year program was launched.

Another $4.7 million request for

funds is now pending.

The work so far has included

the completion of one canal system,

the repair of 24 kilometers

of mountainous rural roads just

Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian of

Armenia will visit Washington October

9–14.

Coming up: Armenian

prime minister plans

U.S. visit

Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian

will visit Washington between

October 9 and 14, U.S. and

Armenian officials familiar with

the visit’s planning told the Armenian

Reporter. Mr. Sarkisian,

for whom this will be the first

visit in his capacity as prime minister,

will meet U.S. officials and

participate in the annual meetings

of the World Bank and the

International Monetary Fund on

October 11–13.

Georgian opposition

leaders flock to the

United States

Levan Gachechiladze, the main

opposition candidate in the Georgian

presidential election in January

2008, this week became the

latest Georgian pro-Western opposition

leader to visit the United

States.

Speaking at the Hudson Institute,

a conservative think tank,

on September 30 about the recent

developments in his country,

south of Gyumri, and the training

of about 15,000 farmers, with a total

of 60,000 farmers to be trained.

Mr. Russin said that the tempo of

the program will ramp up in the

next three years.

Significantly, because of the

decline in value of the U.S. dollar,

coupled with Armenia’s strong economic

growth, which has strengthened

Armenia’s currency, the MCA-

Armenia has been forced to scale

back the scope of work, with 350 kilometers

of roads now planned for

renovation instead of the original

goal of 900 kilometers.

Mr. Russin has also expressed

concern that the political situation

in Armenia hangs like a “cloud”

over the program. When asked

what steps from the government

he is anticipating that would keep

Armenia eligible for MCC aid, Mr.

Russin generally pointed to the

Mr. Gachechiladze argued that it

has become “impossible” to unite

around the current Georgian leader

Mikheil Saakashvili since he

makes “wrong decisions” and there

are serious questions about his

leadership since Georgia’s brief but

militarily disastrous war with Russia

last month.

Mr. Gachechiladze warned that

unless Mr. Saakashvili promptly

restores democratic freedoms and

shares power with the opposition,

“destabilization” will follow.

Georgia’s former acting president

and parliament speaker until

earlier this year Nino Burjanadze,

David Usupashvili of the Republican

Party, and David Gamkrelidze

of the New Rights Party have all

visited the United States since the

August war.

In a September 8 commentary,

the Washington Post’s Jackson

Diehl revealed that “American

officials are still seething at Saakashvili

[over] his impulsive and

militarily foolhardy attack on

South Ossetia,” provoking the

Russian counter-attack and thus

causing an “embarrassment” to

the West.

“The truth is that it would be

considerably easier for the United

States to defend Georgia and its

democracy if it did not have to defend

and depend on – Saakashvili

himself,” Mr. Diehl argued.

Although both President George

W. Bush and Mr. Saakashvili were

at the United Nations General Assembly

last week, no meeting between

the two has been reported.

Russia touts selfdetermination

in “miniempires”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

of Russia, who was in New York

last week for the United Nations

General Assembly, offered Russia’s

views on relations with the United

States and international developments

in light of the war in Georgia

in an extensive presentation to the

MCC Armenia rep.: $20 million disbursed in two years

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of

Russia advocated self-determination.

Photo: Wikimedia.

Council on Foreign Relations on

September 24.

Mr. Lavrov spoke at length on

nations’ right to self-determination,

which the Russian minister

recalled has long been the “mantra”

of U.S. foreign policy and was

described as “one of the noblest

ideas in our world” by Vice President

Dick Cheney during his visit

to Italy on September 6.

Mr. Lavrov argued that in addition

to major empires, “there exist

mini-empires and the same attitude

ought to apply to them. If we are to

be guided by principle rather than

bias and political conjecture, the

size should not make difference.”

He went on: “The relevant issues

are those of oppression, of threat

of genocide, of central authorities’

inability or unwillingness to bring

the minority into the fold peacefully

by way of persuasion, creating

a climate of confidence and trust,

providing a decent and caring government

for all citizens.”

Speaking of his country’s actions

in support of South Ossetia and

Abkhazia, Mr. Lavrov suggested

that “Russia is now an advocate of

such principles of America as live

and let live, give and take, helping

the underdog!” Minister Lavrov’s

remarks in full can be found at

http://www.cfr.org.

f

need for reforms that would satisfy

local civil-society groups as well as

an effective fight against corruption

pledged by the government.

Previously, during a visit with

the Armenian community in Detroit

on August 5, MCC Chief Executive

Officer Ambassador John

Danilovich told the Armenian Reporter

that the Armenia program

was “moving ahead in all respects.”

He also sounded optimistic about

the Armenian government’s ability

to implement needed democratic

reforms.

In his September 3 speech to

the Armenian diplomatic corps,

President Serge Sargsian underscored

MCC’s importance for Armenia,

while also noting “certain

foot-dragging with regard to the

program’s” implementation. Mr.

Sargsian expressed hope that the

“efforts of the Armenian authorities

so far will be understood correctly,

and the opportunity will be

given to continue the project jointly

agreed to.”

The MCC Board of Directors held

its quarterly meeting on September

17. No new decisions on Armenia

were announced. The meeting

focused on provision of a possible

$100 million in additional aid to

Georgia.

On September 29, the MCC welcomed

legislation that would make

it possible to extend compact implementation

from five to up to

ten years and would also authorize

conclusion of concurrent and additional

compacts. MCC also praised

efforts of members of the House of

Representatives to keep the corporation’s

total funding at about $1.54

billion in Fiscal Year 2009. f

connect: www.mcc.gov


The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008

National

John McCain writes to

Armenian-Americans

Barack Obama emphasizes the

importance of U.S.-Armenia relations


The following letter was issued on October

1, 2008.

Dear Friends,

The Armenian-American community

has contributed richly to the

American fabric and has been instrumental

in ensuring that a terrible

tragedy is never forgotten.

It is fair to say that one of the

greatest tragedies of the 20th century,

the brutal murder of as many

as one and a half million Armenians

under the rule of the Ottoman

Empire, has also been one of

the most neglected. The suffering

endured by the Armenian people

during that period represented

the prologue to what has come to

be known as humanity’s bloodiest

century. It is our responsibility to

recognize those tragic events and

to ensure that our world never experiences

the impact of the bloody

conflicts that so filled the 20th

century.

In light of that history, the rise

of the independent Republic of

Armenia from such painful experiences

is inspirational, as is the

vibrancy of the Armenian diaspora.

In particular, I deeply admire

both Armenia’s support of coalition

operations in Iraq and NATO

peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo. In

my visits to Armenia, I have been

deeply impressed by the resilient

and hard working Armenian people

who have made tremendous

progress in very difficult circumstances.

Our country is greatly enriched

by the descendents of the victims

and survivors of the horrific tragedy

that befell the Armenian people.

Republican presidential candidate Sen.

John McCain of Arizona, accompanied

by his running mate, Alaska Gov.

Sarah Palin, during a campaign rally at

Capital University in Bexley, Ohio, on

Sept. 29. AP Photo:Paul Vernon.

Today Armenian-Americans represent

that indestructible spirit of a

people and embody the principles

of freedom and democracy that all

Americans prize above all else. I am

grateful for all of the contributions

that Armenian-Americans have

made to our wonderful country

and I greatly value the opportunity

to stand with the Armenian-American

community in my campaign

and as the next President of the

United States.

Sincerely,

John McCain

f

The following statement was issued

on January 19, 2008.

I am proud of my strong record on

issues of concern to the one and

a half million Americans of Armenian

heritage in the United States.

I warmly welcome the support of

this vibrant and politically active

community as we change how our

government works here at home,

and restore American leadership

abroad.

I am a strong supporter of a U.S.-

Armenian relationship that advances

our common security and

strengthens Armenian democracy.

As President, I will maintain our

assistance to Armenia, which has

been a reliable partner in the fight

against terrorism and extremism.

I will promote Armenian security

by seeking an end to the Turkish

and Azerbaijani blockades, and

by working for a lasting and durable

settlement of the Nagorno

Karabagh conflict that is agreeable

to all parties, and based upon

America’s founding commitment

to the principles of democracy

and self determination. And my

Administration will help foster

Armenia’s growth and development

through expanded trade and

targeted aid, and by strengthening

the commercial, political, military,

developmental, and cultural relationships

between the U.S. and

Armenian governments.

I also share with Armenian

Americans – so many of whom

are descended from genocide survivors

- a principled commitment

to commemorating and ending

genocide. That starts with acknowledging

the tragic instances

of genocide in world history. As

a U.S. Senator, I have stood with

the Armenian American community

in calling for Turkey’s

acknowledgement of the Armenian

Genocide. Two years ago, I

criticized the Secretary of State

for the firing of U.S. Ambassador

to Armenia, John Evans, after he

properly used the term “genocide”

to describe Turkey’s slaughter of

thousands of Armenians starting

in 1915. I shared with Secretary

Rice my firmly held conviction

that the Armenian Genocide

is not an allegation, a personal

opinion, or a point of view, but

rather a widely documented fact

supported by an overwhelming

body of historical evidence. The

facts are undeniable. An official

policy that calls on diplomats to

distort the historical facts is an

untenable policy. As a senator, I

strongly support passage of the

Armenian Genocide Resolution

(H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as

President I will recognize the Armenian

Genocide.

Sen. Joe Biden

(D.-Del.), left,

talks with Sen.

Barack Obama

(D.-Ill.), prior to

the start of the

first Democratic

presidential

primary debate

in Orangeburg,

S.C., on April

26, 2007. AP

Photo: J. Scott

Applewhite.

Genocide, sadly, persists to this

day, and threatens our common

security and common humanity.

Tragically, we are witnessing in Sudan

many of the same brutal tactics

– displacement, starvation, and

mass slaughter – that were used by

the Ottoman authorities against

defenseless Armenians back in 1915.

I have visited Darfurian refugee

camps, pushed for the deployment

of a robust multinational force

for Darfur, and urged divestment

from companies doing business in

Sudan. America deserves a leader

who speaks truthfully about the

Armenian Genocide and responds

forcefully to all genocides. I intend

to be that President.

I look forward, as President, to

continuing my active engagement

with Armenian American leaders

on the full range of issues of concern

to the Armenian American

community. Together, we will build,

in new and exciting ways, upon

the enduring ties and shared values

that have bound together the

American and Armenian peoples

for more than a century. f

ANCA Capital Gateway Program opens public policy doors for

Fall 2008 participants

WASHINGTON – The Armenian

National Committee of America

(ANCA) Capital Gateway Program

welcomed five new participants

to the nation’s capital this month,

each eager to embark on careers in

politics and public policy.

Now in its fifth consecutive year,

the Gateway Program helps applicants

attain exciting internships

and challenging full-time public

policy jobs in the nation’s capital.

To date, over 40 fellows have gone

through the program and secured

positions in dozens of Congressional

offices, as well as media and political

institutions such as Congressional

Quarterly, the U.S. Chamber

of Commerce, Export-Import Bank

(EXIM), SRCP Media, and the World

Bank.

The five Fall 2008 participants hit

the ground running in Washington,

landing Congressional internships

within weeks of their arrival. “Being

in D.C. for only a week and having

already secured internships on

the Hill is very exciting for both

me and my colleagues,” said Meri

Telelyan, a recent University of

California, Santa Barbara graduate

currently interning for Rep. Mike

Thompson (D.-Calif.) “Of course,

our ultimate goal is to find permanent

positions working in Congress.”

Joining Ms. Telelyan is fellow

UC Santa Barbara graduate Grigor

Mirza-Avakyan, who is interning

with Rep. Sam Farr (D.-Calif.)

Mikael Kourinian and Shant

Nahapetian, both from California

and both with master’s degrees in

public administration, have also set

in motion their careers in Washington

with internships for Rep. Joseph

Crowley (D.-N.Y.) and Rep.

Howard Berman (D.-Calif.), respectively.

A fifth participant, from

Detroit, Aleek Kahramanian, was

the final fellow to arrive and join

her new roommates at the Gateway

house, located just a stone’s throw

from the White House. Ms. Kahramanian

is interning with Senate

Armed Services Committee chair

Carl Levin (D.-Mich.)

“It is often difficult to pick up

one’s life, leave family and friends,

and move across country to pursue

a dream,” said Mr. Nahapetian. “But

the ANCA Capital Gateway program

provides the resources, mentoring,

and encouragement to significantly

ease the burdens such a drastic life

change may entail.”

In addition to excelling academically

and having a passion

for politics, each of the five fellows

has demonstrated a track

record of commitment to the Armenian-American

community.

Mr. Kourinian recently wrapped

up a summer internship with the

ANC-WR and looks forwarding to

ANCA Capital

Gateway

Program Fall

2008 participants

Grigor Mirza-

Avakyan, Meri

Telelyan, Mikael

Kourinian, Aleek

Kahramanian,

and Shant

Nahapetian.

ANCA photo.

handling Armenian-American issues

as one of his main tasks for

Rep. Crowley. “I am grateful to the

ANCA Capital Gateway Program

for giving me the opportunity

to make my dream of working in

Congress and addressing Armenian-American

issues a reality,”

said. Mr. Kourinian. He is also interning

with the Hudson Institute

in his pursuit of a policy position

in a think tank.

As in the past, Washington-area

Armenian-American policy professionals

have reached out to the

ANCA Capital Gateway fellows, offering

them valuable advice and encouragement.

Among community

activists always ready to share insights

is Senate Banking Committee

Senior Counsel Dean Shahinian,

who brings insight both from

the Congressional and U.S. government

agency perspective.

“It’s wonderful how many doors

suddenly appear in front of you

when you get here,” said Mr. Mirza-Avakyan.

“Regardless of what

preconceptions you might have

had, it’s hard to have anything but

confidence that you’re in the right

place at the right time.”

Established through a generous

donation from the Cafesjian

Family Foundation, the Capital

Gateway Program over the years

has benefited tremendously from

the generosity of donors committed

to creating public service opportunities

for young Armenian-

Americans. The leading financial

contributor to the program has

been the family of Hovig Apo

Saghdejian, a 23-year old youth

leader and community activist

from Fresno, California, who lost

his life in 2004 in a tragic car accident.

His family established the

Hovig Apo Saghdejian Memorial

Fund in his memory. Substantial

support has also been provided by

longtime ANCA benefactors Frank

and Barbara Hekimian and the

Armenian American Veterans Post

of Milford, Massachusetts (AAVO).

For more information, email

ANCA Capital Gateway Program Director

Serouj Aprahamian. f

connect: serouj@anca.org


4 The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008

Community

Donna Evans and Hranush Hakobyan to address aiwa Buenos

Aires Conference in November

The Fifth International Conference

of the Armenian International

Women’s Association, to be convened

in Buenos Aires November

9 to 12, will have as its overall focus

“Continent to Continent: Armenian

Women Interacting in Worldwide

Arenas.”

In keeping with this theme,

two special guests, one from the

United States, the other from Armenia,

will join the conference

participants gathered in the capital

of Argentina. Each will bring her

particular expertise.

The keynote speaker, Donna J.

Evans, of Washington, acquired a

unique perspective on the lives of

Armenian women when, from 2004

to 2006, she engaged in various

charitable, educational, and development

projects in Yerevan as wife

of the U.S. ambassador to Armenia,

John M. Evans.

Special guest Hranush Hakobyan,

longtime elected member

of Armenia’s parliament, has come

into special prominence in recent

weeks as the head of the newly

formed Ministry of Diaspora Affairs

in Armenia.

The goal of AIWA’s international

conferences is to provide a forum

for Armenian women from all

parts of the world to come together,

share experiences, and create

short- and long-term strategies to

improve their status.

The program in Buenos Aires

will include sessions on Armenian

women in politics, business,

education, health, family life,

culture, history, arts, and more.

Previous conferences were held

in London (1994), Paris (1997),

Yerevan (2000), and Geneva

(2004). Complementing the program

in Buenos Aires will be a

number of optional social activities

designed to explore the

dynamic Armenian community

in Buenos Aires and the cultural

richness of this first AIWA

conference site in the Western

hemisphere.

Donna J. Evans

As president of the World Affairs

Council of Washington,

Ms. Evans managed a membership

organization of over 2,000

local business leaders, foreign

diplomats, young professionals,

teachers, students, and seasoned

policy professionals. She developed

and implemented programs

on international affairs for the

general membership and educational

programs for teachers

and students. She has served on

World Affairs Councils of America

leadership delegations to Israel,

Taiwan, and Germany.

Ms. Evans also worked as development

consultant at the Hermitage

Museum in Saint Petersburg,

Russia, and as regional country

director for Northwest Russia of

the International Executive Service

Corps. She is the founding

executive director of the American

Chamber of Commerce in Prague,

and served as associate director

for external relations in Eastern

Keynote speaker Donna J. Evans,

community activist and wife of the

former U.S. ambassador to Armenia.

Europe for the Center for Strategic

and International Studies, Washington.

Ms. Evans is Board chair of the

Armenian American Cultural Association

and honorary chair of

the Armenian American Wellness

Center. She serves on the board

of the Children of Armenia Fund.

She is a member of the American

News Women’s Club, the Women’s

Foreign Policy Group, and the National

Museum of the American

Indian.

Hranush Hakobyan

Hranush Hakobyan has held several

prominent political positions

in Armenia. In addition to her

election to parliament as representative

from the Gavar region

in several recent elections, she is

one of only three women to have

held cabinet-level position in independent

Armenia; she served

in 1996–98 as minister of social

security.

Before her current assignment

to head Ministry of Diaspora Affairs,

Ms. Hakobyan chaired the

parliamentary Standing Committee

on Science, Education, Culture,

and Youth Affairs. For several

years she headed Armenia’s delegation

to the international Inter-Parliamentary

Union, and has

attended meetings in many countries

in that capacity.

For the past several years Ms.

Hakobyan has been president of

aiwa’s Armenia affiliate, and she

served as the Armenia chair of

aiwa’s International Conference

held in Yerevan in 2000. She is

also co-president of the American

Armenian Wellness Center.

Trained as a mathematician,

Ms. Hakobyan also holds

a doctorate in law, teaches at

Gavar State University, and is

the author of two monographs

Diocese prepares for January

pilgrimage to Jerusalem

and several articles. She rose to

prominence in the Soviet era as

the head of Komsomol, the Communist

Youth Union.

Final preparations

The aiwa East Coast Committee,

chaired by Eva Medzorian,

and the West Coast Committee,

chaired by Lily Ring Balian,

working in conjunction with the

local Buenos Aires committee

headed by Madlen Tcherian,

are currently engaged in the final

planning for the conference. Enthusiasm

and interest to attend

the conference in Buenos Aires is

very high, and the response has

been encouraging.

aiwa was established in 1990

as an independent, nonprofit,

nonsectarian organization designed

to advance the visibility

of Armenian women. Open to all

who share its goals, aiwa has supported

health, educational, and

social programs in Armenia, held

numerous lectures, workshops,

and programs dealing with issues

of interest to Armenian women,

instituted a scholarship program,

published several books, and established

an Armenian women’s

network.

Further information regarding

the international conference

or other activities is available by

contacting aiwa at 65 Main Street,

#3a, Watertown, MA 02472; email:

aiwainc@aol.com; web: www.Aiwanet.org;

telephone: 617-926-0171 or

562-943-1081.

Stephanie’s Art Gallery to feature

koko’s Allegory + Motif

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif.

– koko, a Los Angeles–based

contemporary artist, will be exhibiting

at Stephanie’s Art Gallery here

from October 3 through 18. An architect

with a master’s in advanced

architectural design from Columbia

University, he works in Frank Gehry’s

architectural firm. His artwork

– primarily oil on canvas, but also

drawing, film, and physical/digital

constructs – is profoundly influenced

by his experience as an architect.

He paints in his private studio,

where, according to the gallery, he

Nassaus Hudson

oil on canvas

24x24 inch.

explores “the dialogue between art

and architecture.”

According to the gallery, his

paintings are “driven from the aesthetics

of abstraction and expressionism.”

In the collection “Allegory and Motif

,” koko explores thematic observations

and developments of the city

through the relationship of the human

figure to physical constructs.

connect:

www.stephaniesartgallery.com

1-818-790-4905

NEW YORK – A group of 26

Armenian faithful from the New

York metro area traveled on a pilgrimage

to the Holy Land from

August 21 to 31, during the Feast

of the Assumption of the Mother

of God. Under the guidance of Rev.

Fr. Mardiros Chevian, dean of

Saint Vartan Armenian Cathedral,

participants visited ancient sites,

including the Armenian Quarter

in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the

Sea of Galilee. The pilgrims also

had the opportunity to meet twice

with Archbishop Torkom Manoogian,

the Armenian Patriarch

of Jerusalem.

During the visit, Fr. Chevian

had the opportunity to finalize

plans for the upcoming Armenian

Christmas Pilgrimage to the Holy

Land, organized by the Diocese of

the Armenian Church of America

(Eastern), under the leadership of

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian,

Primate. This winter pilgrimage

– scheduled for January 13 to 22,

2009 – will feature audiences with

the Patriarch and an invitation to

a special reception in his honor.

Participants will tour the Armenian

Quarter in Jerusalem and the

Patriarchate Complex.

In addition, participants will

receive guided tours of Jerusalem,

Jericho, the Sea of Galilee, the

Dead Sea, the Jordan River, Tiberias,

and Qumran, and participate

in onsite Bible study and religious

services. On January 18, pilgrims

will travel to Bethlehem to celebrate

the birth of Christ with a

Christmas procession and a midnight

Divine Liturgy.

“Having returned from an enriching

experience this summer, we

are looking forward to this special

Christmas pilgrimage to the Holy

Land,” Fr. Chevian said, “And we

encourage all of our faithful to participate.”

The deadline for registering for

the January pilgrimage is October

15. The package for this ten-day pilgrimage

includes air travel, lodging,

two meals daily, a group guide, bus

tours, and airport transfers.

For registration information,

please contact Nadia Charchyan

at Educational Opportunities

Tours at 863-648-0383, ext. 1+287,

or visit www.armenianchurch.net

to download an application.

College

student

needing cash

for books

Part-time

sales positions

available. Email

jobs@reporter.

com


The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008 5

Community

Armenian Church Youth Organization holds first Senior

Sports Weekend in San Diego

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The Armenian

Church Youth organization

(acyo) held its first annual Senior

Sports Weekend event in San Diego.

Over 200 members of the organization

gathered in the beach city

to embark on a three-day sporting

event that featured competitions

such as basketball, volleyball, tennis,

and swimming. Not only did

the games aim to challenge the

physical prowess of participants,

but the event stood as a testament

that the Armenian church is re-focusing

its energies on playing a central

role in the cultural and spiritual

life of the Armenian youth.

“This event creates a revival

in the heart of youths and it is

a call to renew their devotion to

the Armenian Apostolic Church,”

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian

said. “The success of the event is

the latest triumph in the restructuring

of the acyo in its goal to

create distinct venues for the Junior

and Senior acyo divisions,

so that they may grow independently

through age-appropriate

programming.”

anc-wr 2008 Annual Banquet sold out

acyo Sports Weekend events

began in 1965, first taking place

in Los Angeles and later in Fresno.

This year the acyo Central Council

launched a second sports weekend

(September 19-21) that would exclusively

cater to the 18-and-over

members of the organization. “The

acyo-Western Diocese has all the

aspects of a strong organization,”

said Central Council Chairwoman

Sossi Iocovides. “It provides the

youth and young adults of today

with a spiritual foundation, a dedication

to service, and fellowship

among their peers.”

As the organization continues

to evolve, its 18-and-over membership

will be led by the Central Council

while juniors (ages 12 to 17) will

be led by local parish priests and

youth directors. “We hope that this

transition will allow us to tailor the

spiritual and fellowship programs

for each age group accordingly,” Iocovides

said.

Mary-Ann Yaghdjian-Yaldezian,

27, has not participated in

a Sports Weekend tournament in

over nine years. This year she came

LOS ANGELES – The Armenian

National Committee-Western Region

(anc-wr) has announced that

the organization’s annual banquet,

to be held on October 12 at the Ronald

Reagan Presidential Library in

Simi Valley, California, is sold out.

“We are very excited for what again

is a sold out banquet,” said anc-wr

Banquet Chairwoman Aida Dimejian.

“The anc-wr Annual Banquet

allows all of our community leaders

and activists to come together with

government officials and policymakers

to reflect on a year of tremendous

accomplishments.”

Honorary chairs of the event

include U.S. Congress members

Adam Schiff, George Radanovich,

Ed Royce, Jackie Speier,

and several others. Those being

honored include vice-presidential

nominee Senator Joseph Biden,

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa,

the late President Ronald

Reagan, and Mrs. Ashkhen

Pilavjian.

Senator Biden, set to receive the

anc-wr’s Freedom Award, has provided

friendship and support to

the Armenian-American community

dating back to his first days

in public office, the anc-wr said.

As chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign

Relations Committee, Biden

has cosponsored numerous Armenian-Genocide

resolutions and

most recently presided over the

confirmation hearing of Ambassador

Marie L. Yovanovitch.

The anc-wr 2008 Man of the

year is Antonio Villaraigosa. As

mayor of Los Angeles, he has repeatedly

demonstrated his steadfast

support for the Armenian

community, the anc-wr said. In

2007, at the urging and support of

the mayor, the Los Angeles City

back to play volleyball on a newly

formed alumni team.

“Having a Senior Sports Weekend

for the older members creates a forum

where those who were heavily

involved in their teens can still feel

a part of the organization,” Yaghdjian-Yaldezian

said. “Even if you are

married or a working professional,

the acyo is very much relevant to

the older age group.”

Yaghdjian-Yaldezian, who has

been an acyo member for 15

years, speaks fondly about how

the organization has enriched

her spiritually and given her a

sense of connectedness to her

church. “[The acyo] is a place

where not only I met my husband,

but formed deep friendships with

other Armenians from all over

the Western United States,” she

said. “It was a place where I could

learn about my faith and share

the common experience of growing

up bicultural.”

At the San Diego high school

which Yaghdjian-Yaldezian attended,

there were no other Armenian

students. She explained that

Council passed a resolution calling

on the House of Representatives to

pass House Resolution 106.

Following his election to the

presidency in 1980, Ronald Reagan

became the last U.S. president to

acknowledge the Armenian Genocide

as “genocide.” President Reagan

will be honored with the Woodrow

Wilson Award of the anc-wr.

Mrs. Ashkhen Pilavjian, a longtime

supporter of the anc-wr, will

be honored with this year’s Legacy

Award. The anc-wr said that over

the years Pilavjian has supported

several Armenian organizations including

the Western Prelacy, Armenian

Cultural Foundation, Armenian

National Committee, Homenetmen,

and Armenian Relief Society as well

as many Armenian Schools.

connect:

(818) 500-1918

the acyo was a “comfortable place”

where she came across positive

role models who helped inform her

identity as an Orthodox Christian

and an Armenian.

The Senior Sports Weekend,

which was hosted by St. John Garabed

Armenian Church in San Diego,

comprised an array of sports

tournaments, a gala banquet on

Saturday evening, Divine Liturgy

on Sunday, and an awards barbecue

luncheon on Sunday Afternoon.

In his remarks during the gala

banquet, Archbishop Derderian

encouraged the youth to “become

apostles of Christ and put their

faith in action and have the vision

of becoming wise leaders of

the community.” The archbishop

thanked the acyo Central Council

and members of the St. John Garabed

Church by gifting them with

memorabilia, as tokens of appreciation.

acyo Youth Director Fr. Avedis

Abovian spoke about the importance

of the youth functioning as

a source of vitality and service. The

young priest urged the attendees to

“embrace their maturity within the

context of the church.”

Fr. Datev Tatoulian, parish

priest of St. John Garabed Armenian

Church in San Diego, said he

was pleased to see so many young

members of the church come to

San Diego to engage in a festive

weekend. “San Diego is considered

one of the most beautiful cities in

the world and it became so much

more beautiful to see so many

acyo members and their families

convene for a weekend and reconnect

with each other through

sports and friendship,” the enthusiastic

priest commented. “I really

feel that the acyo is growing in the

right direction and we are making

sure that we create forums, sports

events, and spiritual conferences

to reach out to our youth and our

community as a whole. We feel it

is our responsibility to engage our

youths and be a spiritual anchor as

they grow into adults.”

Upcoming acyo events include

the annual Assembly Convention,

which will take place in Oakland,

California, November 28-30.

Let us know what’s on your mind.

Write to us at

letters@reporter.am

SEARCHING FOR ADAPAZAR FAMILIES

I am an award-winning investigative journalist writing a book about my grandfather and his hometown

of Adapazar. I am looking for any information about the families listed below. These people were friends

with my grandfather. If you have any information, please call, write, or email as soon as possible. I’m also

looking for all memoirs, books or other written material about the town. Please help me with this

endeavor. And thank you very much for your time.

Nerses Aghajanian of Adapazar

Haroutiun Atanasian of Adapazar

Vartan Choulerian of Bardizag.

Hagop Chavoushian of Adapazar

Vartan Chullerian from Bardizag

Bedros Dimijian of Adapazar

Antranig Giumiushian of Adapazar

Hagop Hadimosian of Adapazar

Asadour Istefanian of Adapazar

Dikran and Garabed Kabadayan of Adapazar

Mardiros Kesoghluyan of Adapazar

Murat Kesoghluian of Adapazar

Vahan Koyumjian of Adapazar

Dikran Maghakian of Adapazar

Antranig Maghakian of Adapazar

Antranig Merjanian of Adapazar

Khoren Mkhjian of Adapazar

Boghos Potigian. of Adapazar

Mihran Portukalian of Adapazar

Yeghisapet Sarian and daughter Nvart of

Izmit

Aram and Ardashes Shalvarjian of Tarsus

The Tarikian family of Adapazar

Antranig Unanian of Adapazar

Please send any leads to the address or e-mail below:

Adapazar Book

P.O. Box 26691

Los Angeles, CA 90026

Phone: 323-660-0483

E-mail: adapazarbook@yahoo.com


6 The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008

Community

THIS ARMENIAN LIFE

Camliyayla

by Tamar

Kevonian

We awake in Camliyayla in the early

morning. The hotel is at the base

of the mountain below Lampron

Castle. We have a long day of climbing

ahead of us. Today we plan to

see four fortresses – scattered

throughout the region which used

to be the central hub of the kingdom

of Armenian Cilicia between

the 12th and 14th centuries.

We begin to climb the trail behind

the hotel. Very quickly we

reach a vista above which loom a

turret and part of the outer wall

of the castle. We continue up the

rocky mountain, occasionally using

hidden stone stairs carved into the

rock. The path disappears behind

us as soon as we clear the last step.

Once at the top, I look around

and wonder where the fortress is.

The view of the castle from the base

was much more interesting than

what I see before me now. Osman,

a colleague traveling with me and

my father Nazareth, and I look at

each other and shrug. “This is it”

we wonder. At the edge of the crest

is the stone structure we noticed

from below. A hundred feet of the

outer wall and two chambers are

what remain of the formidable

fortress. As I enter the cavernous

interior to explore further, I find

the walls covered in graffiti and the

corners littered with plastic bottles

and cola cans.

On the opposite hill is Sinap. It

looks so small from here. We climb

back down and head over to the

other side. It’s not a paved road and

several times a loud “clunk” sound

emanates from underneath the

car as we drive over a large rock.

Sinap is also disappointing. All that

remains is one garrison with a recently

caved-in second floor.

Now we’re heading further inland,

into the heart of Cilicia. The

land is flat, with a few scattered

rocky mountains on which our ancestors

built their fortresses and

castles.

We reach Yilan Kalesi (which

means Snake Castle). The legend

is that the castle was overrun by

snakes and ultimately abandoned.

In reality, the name is a derivative

of Levon, the name of the king who

ruled this area at the time of its

construction. The castle’s entrance

is on a steep embankment, with

several more entrances on different

levels.

It’s noon and the sun is high in

the sky. It’s hot. Up till now Osman

and Dad have taken turns

to accompany me on my climbs

to castles and fortresses. At Yilan

they both opt to sit in the shade of

a café and wait for me to come back

down. I start up the stone-paved

path, which abruptly ends after

200 feet. I walk the rest of the way

across a rock-strewn dirt trail, and

then I begin to scramble over the

big boulders that block the way to

the entrance. Making it to the first

portal wipes me out. I sit on the

only shady bit of rock I can find and

rest a few minutes before I head

back down. The view is incredible.

Back in the air-conditioned car,

we head to Kozan (Sis), the heart of

Cilicia and the seat of the Cilician

Catholicosate until the 1930s, when

it moved to its present location in

Antelias, Lebanon.

Once a thriving religious and

cultural center, Kozan today has

no Armenian residents. The town’s

fortress, like others in the region,

sits at the crest of a mountain. We

drive the steep incline through the

town, where there still are vestiges

of Armenian architecture, including

a scattering of distinctive Armenians

houses. We wind up the

hill until we reach the end of the

residential area before the final ascent

to the fortress.

A flat piece of land stretches out

to our left. We park the car and

walk across the expanse. There is

nothing left of the Catholicosate

except for two partial walls of the

original building – the stones were

used long ago to build a hospital

in the valley below. Further up the

road we park the car and climb once

again to the fortress. The main entrance

has a Mamluk inscription

dating to the time when the fortress.

As for the older Armenian inscription,

it was removed (stolen)

some 20 years ago.

On our way to Kozan we’d noticed

a sign that read “Anavarza, 5

km,” pointing to our right. We now

backtrack to that sign. Anavarza,

another Armenian fortress not

mentioned in either our Armenian

or English guidebook, was not on

our original itinerary. It’s the only

one of the fortresses that Dad had

not previously visited and he was

curious to see it. I was exhausted

after climbing four mountains in

one day and was desperately hoping

for a warm meal, a cool drink,

and a hot shower.

The narrow, badly paved road is

marked by a simple sign that we almost

overlook. Osman stops next

to a man on an esheg (donkey) to

ask for directions. The man points

behind to the large rock outcropping

on the horizon. As we approach

it, we come to an archway,

what remains of the Roman aqueduct,

and the Greco-Roman ruins

across the flat expanse. Beyond it

is a very large mountain with what

looks like a vast structure spanning

its three crests.

All of a sudden a man materializes.

Tall, thin, with crystal blue

eyes, Yashar is the director of the

museum. He has seen us drive up

and has come to tell us about the

area. He leads us to the museum,

which, in reality, is his house. Many

years ago, while tilling his yard, he

discovered two intact mosaics of

what used to be the floors of a Roman

bath. He hauled a few carved

stones from the site, hand-wrote

“Muze” on his wall, and he was in

business. He is the “official” guide

in these parts.

There is about an hour before the

sun is to set and we head towards

the base of the mountain to begin

our fifth climb of the day. Both Osman

and Dad plan to join me this

time. The mountain is steep and

the crest too high up. It seems like

an impossible task but we start the

trek, scaling rocks interspersed

with 330 stone steps still intact

along the path. I’m grateful for

them as they make the effort a bit

easier to bear. While the three of

us struggle with each step, Yashar

gambols over them like a mountain

goat. Finally I reach the top, just as

the sun hides behind the horizon.

Osman is a few meters behind me

and Dad is further down the mountain.

His ascent is going slowly because

of his excruciating back pain,

but he doesn’t want to hold us back.

I make my way towards the small

church in the first courtyard inside

the walls. The fortress is over half

a mile long and it’s impossible to

explore it all. The roof of the church

has caved in, but the distinctive Armenian

carvings around the perimeter

are mostly intact. Years ago,

the late Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian

conducted a wedding here for

a couple who had met in Armenia

during a Land and Culture Organi-

Citizen activism stressed at anc

Pasadena town hall meeting

PASADENA, Calif. – Recently

the Pasadena chapter of the Armenian

National Committee hosted a

town hall meeting featuring guest

speaker Ardashes Kassakhian.

As Glendale city clerk, Kassakhian

spoke of the importance of

citizen participation in the democratic

process. He said all citizens,

including Armenian-Americans,

have a responsibility to be involved

in local government affairs. The

gathering, held on September 17 at

the Armenian Center in Pasadena,

drew a mix of young and old community

members, some longtime

activists, and others new to the

community.

“Our town hall meeting this

zation summer campaign. Then the

church was still in good shape and

I could imagine the three of them

standing at the altar in this majestic

location. In the growing twilight

Yashar, Osman and I emerge from

the entrance. Dad is 50 meters

below us. There isn’t enough time

to wait for him to make it to the

top and over to the church. We’re

hurrying down while we still have

some light to see our way. We reach

the car just as the night engulfs the

trail.

Yashar has invited us to dinner

with his family. His grandfather

was a Cappadocian enlisted in

the Janissaries (the Ottoman infantry

which conscripted the orphaned

sons of families that were

massacred by the Turks). Yashar

has never left the area except for

the time he served in the military,

where he came into contact with

U.S. personnel and taught himself

English. He has a thirst for

knowledge, history in particular,

and grills us for stories about the

evening was all about serving the

community,” remarked Pasadena

anc leader Dikran Tabakian. “We

plan to hold more town hall meetings.

Today we touched on the importance

of grassroots action and

the need to be involved locally with

our city council and other local officials.”

“Our upcoming town hall meetings

will touch on other interesting

topics designed to engage our

community members and get

them involved,” Tabakian continued.

“The idea is simple: we need

to educate our community, motivate

[people], and, finally, we need

to [encourage] them to support

worthwhile activities.”

people who built the mountaintop

castle.

I wonder how these formidable

structures, so hard to reach, could

ever fall in the hands of enemies.

This is a question I ponder as I recover

from a day of climbing increasingly

difficult mountains and

scaling the walls of more fortified

walls. I have no answer.

Before embarking on this trek,

several friends advised me to take

lots of pictures during my travels,

but Roger had a specific demand.

“When you get to a place where

standing there you feel the energy

of those that went before us, then

take a picture for me,” he requested.

I remembered his words when

I first stopped the car at the ancient

western border of Cilicia and

looked across the rolling mountains

and the blue Mediterranean waters.

I’ve thought about his request at

each site since that first one. Every

time I stood high on the ramparts

of a castle and looked across the

sea or the waters of a flowing river

In his remarks, Kassakhian reflected

on his own history of grassroots

involvement and later work

as the executive director of the

Armenian National Committee–

Western Region office. He cited

a number of examples of how an

energized and motivated group

of Armenian-Americans can bring

positive change to their local government.

Kassakhian said that failing

to be involved in local government

affairs in Pasadena and

elsewhere is not an acceptable

option. “If you want to play a

positive role in the future of your

city, you have to be involved,” he

emphasized.


Arpa International Film Festival to be held

at the Egyptian Theatre, October 24–26

LOS ANGELES – The 11th

Annual Arpa International Film

Festival, featuring a diversity of

local and international films –

including works from usc, ucla,

Pasadena Art Center, and csun

– will be held at the Egyptian

Theatre in Hollywood, October

24 through 26.

The opening-night premiere will

be J. Michael Hagopian’s final

installment in his trilogy about

the Armenian Genocide, titled The

River Ran Red. Other highlights

include a 90th-birthday tribute

to screen legend Rita Hayworth,

featuring the first work that won

her international acclaim, Rouben

Mamoulian’s 1941 Academy

Award-winning Technicolor film

Blood and Sand.

Arpa will screen 49 films from

21 countries, including Armenia,

Australia, Belize, Canada, China,

Congo, the Czech Republic, Ecuador,

France, Iran, Ireland, Italy,

Romania, Sri Lanka, Switzerland,

Tobago, Trinidad, Turkey, the U.K.,

the usa, and Venezuela. Among

the films on the list of Arpa’s 2008

Official Selection are Familiar Voices

with Mia Farrow; the world

premiere of Tadeh Daschi’s The

Witch of Portobello, based on Paulo

Coelho’s novel of the same name;

and Strength and Honour, starring

Michael Madsen and Richard

Chamberlain.

Each year, the festival recognizes

individuals in the film industry

with achievement and humanitarian

awards. Arpa’s 2008 award recipients

include Ted Braun, who

will receive the Armin T. Wegner

Award for his film Darfur Now.

Actress and activist Mary Apick

will receive the Arpa Foundation

Award; and actor Marco Khan

will be named Breakthrough Artist

of the Year for his performances

in 10,000 B.C., Iron Man, and

Dr. Michael

Hagopian.

Photo: Helena

Gregorian.

Don’t Mess with Zohan. Honorees

and winners will be recognized

at an awards ceremony hosted by

ReelzChannel’s Jill Simonian, on

October 26.

The Egyptian Theatre is located

at 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood,

CA 90028.

For schedule and tickets, call (323)

663-1882 or visit affma.org.

through the green valleys of our

historic homeland, I thought, “Yes,

this is the place.” Yet every time I

came across a new vista, it made

me rebut the previous one. Here at

Anavarza, I again thought of Roger’s

words and wondered if it was

the ultimate place to feel the spirit

of our ancestors. Once more I could

not come to any clear conclusion,

as each fortress and each view had

its own special energy and place in

history. And now they are lodged in

my heart.


Visit us at

reporter.am


The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008 7

Community

Armen Stepanian: the Christopher Columbus of recycling

How a Seattle man

helped ignite the

American recycling

revolution. And why

he’s unhappy with

how things turned

out.

by Karin Saghdejian

OCEAN SHORES, Wash.

– Crouching on a counter in the

middle of his ramshackle house,

Armen Stepanian is browsing

through his old files. He shows me

typewriter-written questionnaires,

flyers, and postage-paid cards addressed

to Fremont (Seattle, Washington)

households, asking them if

they would subscribe to a garbagecollection

program that might start

in their neighborhood.

It was in 1975 when Armen and

a group of volunteers initiated and

successfully implemented the first

recycling program in Seattle. The

initiative is now considered to be

the first of its kind in the United

States.

But, after 33 years, Armen is not

happy with what the recycling phenomenon

has morphed into. He

believes his original energy-saving

idea has actually become an energywasting

service.

On Broadway

With a hearty pari yegak (welcome),

Armen greets me on the stairs of

his house in Ocean Shores, a small

coastal town three hours’ drive

from Seattle. At an age when most

people are retired, 77-year-old Armen,

with his unflinching spirit

and mighty hands, is in the business

of “recycling” his house with

wooden planks he has collected

from a remodeled local church. Every

Armenian can relate to Armen’s

resolve to make things happen and

survive amid adversity, as he has

done throughout his life.

He was born in New York City

to Napoleon Stepanian (born in

Kharpert) and Zaro Hatchadoorian

(born in Everek) – both had left

their historic Armenian towns in

the early 1900s because of Ottoman

persecution.

Armen’s childhood was a colorful

one. He grew up in lower-class

Manhattan neighborhoods and

became a professional singer. Recycling

was never in his repertoire.

His childhood was spent in Hell’s

Kitchen, a gritty neighborhood

of Manhattan popularized in the

1930s by the films of James Cagney

and Humphrey Bogart. “I grew up

there and my first taste of America

comes from those struggling

people, the streets, the kids, and

the white culture,” he says. “Every

Friday night, in order to escape the

terrible neighborhoods we lived in,

my mother would take me by trolley

six miles to Washington Heights to

my grandparents.” The ride made

him nauseous. “She would tell me,

‘Look up at the clouds and the skylight,

they don’t move.’”

Being an only child, Armen was

groomed by the adults in his life

to become a young-boy virtuoso

violinist phenomenon. Conflicted

between a mother who wanted

him to attend Columbia University

and a father who wanted him to

take over his window-display business,

Armen chose what he himself

wanted: singing in choirs.

He sang in New York’s St. Gregory

Armenian Church Choir, which

led to a professional singing career

with the Robert Shaw Chorale. He

appeared in the Broadway musical

Silk Stocking and summer stock musicals

such as My Sister Aileen, Call

me Madame, Carousel, Showboat, Annie

Get Your Gun, Kiss Me Mate, and

Finian’s Rainbow. He even recorded

an album with Harry Belafonte and

got a Juilliard vocal scholarship.

Armen ended his music career

after realizing that the prospects of

staying in show business would diminish

in case he got out of shape.

In the mayor’s office

After a short stint in San Francisco,

where he started a window-display

business following in his father’s

footsteps, Armen moved to Seattle

on the eve of 1970 to start a new

life. He made his home in Fremont,

the city’s bohemian district, where

he first worked as a carpenter. He

went on to serve as an honorary

mayor, community activist, recycling

manager, and ultimately a

leader who helped transform Fremont

from a seedy neighborhood

into an organized and revitalized

district.

With his larger-than-life personality,

Armen was able to change the

face of the squalid neighborhood.

In 1973, when an enterprising local

newspaper publisher, seeking

to increase sales of his publication,

announced elections for honorary

mayor of Fremont, Armen ran and

won. “I ran against 37 candidates

Armen Stepanian

is “recycling” his

house, in Ocean

Shores, Wash.

Left: Armen

Stepanian.

Photos: Karin

Saghdejian.

(among them a black Labrador)

and won the title,” he recalls. But

to everybody’s surprise, Armen

showed his election was not just

a publicity stunt: he subsequently

founded the Fremont Food Bank

to feed the hungry, the Well-baby

Center for expectant mothers and

children, the Seniors Center, the

Fremont Fair (still running after 35

years), and the district’s first recycling

station. With his show-business

background, Armen was able

to rally people around him. The

press loved him. He stirred the media

in favor of his causes and wrote

the governor of Washington State

to gain support for his energy-saving

ideas.

Father of recycling

Armen began to promote recycling

at a time when the United States

was gripped with an energy crisis

brought on by the opec oil embargo.

As he witnessed the long lines

in front of gas stations, he realized

that the country’s energy future

would be in peril without conservation

and sustainable consumption

practices. “I hit the recycling button

and it worked,” he says.

His idea was first met with suspicion.

Nobody believed people

would be willing to collect and give

away recyclables for no return.

As Armen and other volunteers

began his recycling program, only

a few households participated. In

time, however, their numbers grew

considerably and Armen’s recycling

model would eventually be emulated

and expanded by other cities.

Neil Seldman, president of the

Institute For Local Self-Reliance, a

nonprofit organization that promotes

sustainable use of resources,

believes Armen was a key player in

the recycling and anti-incineration

movement of the 70s.

“He established communitybased

recycling in Seattle, [a program

that] was a forerunner to the

current citywide systems,” he says.

Armen started off with a survey

of 150 households in Fremont, asking

them if they would be willing to

participate in a recycling program.

He was pleased that 67 said yes.

“On the first day of recycling, [May

6, 1975], 32 of the 67 did participate,”

he recalls. “We did it every month

and the 32 grew to 1,500.” The service

was organized by volunteers

of the Fremont Public Association

and provided free of charge.

Armen calculates how much energy

is saved if we recycle just a portion

of our daily garbage. “Recycled

glass saves nine barrels of oil per

ton – an average family puts out

ten pounds per month,” he says.

“Each group of 200 families will

save nine barrels of oil per month.

Aluminum cans are more dramatic.

If you make an aluminum can a second

time you only use 5% of the

original energy, so you save 95%.”

Armen boasts about the success

of his recycling program, which

served as a blueprint for other cities.

“The recycling pick-up you have

in Vancouver is a copy of this program

in Seattle,” he says. “Every

time you recycle, know that it’s an

Armenian program.”

Seldman believes Armen’s role

was also critical in the development

of public policy. “For example,” he

says, “when the city announced a pilot

recycling program in several disconnected

communities, he pointed

out that ‘you don’t make a fire with

the logs separated from each other.’

He accomplished this by successfully

critiquing the various plans that the

city suggested. Eventually, Armen’s

positions were successful.”

The service was provided free

of charge from 1975 until 1980,

when the Reagan administration

cut funding for such community

projects. Armen continued the

program as a private business until

1988, when the city contracted big

garbage-collection companies to do

the work.

Armen was later (1990–94) commissioned

to initiate a recycling

program in Indianapolis, which

did not succeed, since it was a huge

task for one person. “They needed

a massive grassroots effort to raise

awareness and implement [the program],”

he says.

An energy-saving idea

gone wrong

Today recycling is far from the original

energy-saving idea Armen and

his volunteers designed more than

33 years ago, he says. He believes

a lot of what passes for recycling

is not really saving us energy but

rather is a huge waste of energy.

He points out three major pitfalls:

first, the inefficient pick-up

process. He says the pick-up truck

that collects trash once a week

drives by even if the garbage is not

placed outside, since the service is

paid for based on the number of

times the truck travels and not by

the amount of garbage collected.

“It ends up costing us at least ten

times more to pick up the material

than its original worth,” he explains.

Second, the pricey garbage bill,

which has two components: recycling

and trash collection. “Garbage

companies don’t tell households

that they are paying for two different

services, collection and recycling,

lest they opt to take their

garbage to the recycling centers

themselves and save half of their

bill,” he says.

Third, the wasteful packaging

industry. The “post-consumer recycled”

label that cardboard boxes

carry refers to the leavings that are

reused after stamping out a box

from a cardboard, Armen explains.

“It’s salvaging, that’s pre-consumer,

not recycling,” he says. “Recycling

is bringing back the used material.”

He wants all the packaging

to be declared. “We know that 50%

post-consumer boxes can be done,

as a California company is doing

it,” he says. “So we need the reused-material

percentage to go up

to 85%.” Armen also advocates the

use of glass instead of plastic for

the manufacture of bottles (since

glass is cheaper to make and recycle),

and a ban of plastic bags

(as is the case in some European

countries).

What’s next

Armen Stepanian has lived a full life.

He’s hailed as a hero in American

recycling circles, for both pioneering

the recycling movement and

educating people to adopt conservation

and recycling practices. “He

has demonstrated that in a 15-minute

conversation he would make

families recyclers for life,” Seldman

says. “Armen is a hero of the grassroots

recycling movement.”

Today Armen lives alone on a

windy stretch of the Pacific coast,

barely able to sustain a living and

undergoing his fourth divorce. Yet

his imagination is teeming with

fresh ideas for societal change.

He contemplates the next thing

in his life, which could be a campaign

against a recycling regime

gone wrong. “I can’t wait to open

this can of worms,” he says. He

even would consider moving to

Armenia and raising awareness

about the benefits of recycling

– in a landlocked country with no

space to spare. “Armenia is prone

to earthquakes, and landfills can be

a double disaster,” he explains. “It

would be a huge input to educate

Armenian people about the importance

of recycling.”

But for the time being it would be

enough to spend an afternoon entertaining

a kindred spirit. “Thank

you for your visit,” he tells me. “It

was a cup of water in the middle of

the desert.”


8 The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008

Community

Thousands attend Fresno’s prpoor festival

by Alik Hovsepian

FRESNO, Calif. – Thousands

discovered one of the Fresno Armenian

community’s best-kept secrets

last weekend, namely the Armenian

Cultural Foundation’s second

annual Grand Armenian Festival,

which took place on the grounds

of the California Armenian Home

in Fresno.

The three-day event featured

a full lineup of activities and performances

as well as prpoor, an

800-year-old harvest celebration

that Armenians of California’s

Central Valley have observed since

the 1950s. Prpoor celebrates food,

music, art, and community. “It’s

a combination of festivals,” said

Raffy Chekerdemian, one of the

organizers of the event.

The heat didn’t stop the revelers,

who had gathered from all over California,

including San Francisco, Los

Angeles, and San Diego. “We found

out about prpoor last year and that it

was taking place in Fresno,” said Talar

Aintablian of San Mateo. “We

enjoyed ourselves last year, so we

made it a point to come out again

this year. It was a good way for our

families from San Francisco and Los

Angeles to meet here in Fresno for

this Armenian tradition. I feel like

Los Angeles has the Navasartian

Games, San Francisco has the Food

Bazaar, and this could be the good

yearly tradition that people can congregate

to Fresno for.”

As part of the William Saroyan

Centennial Celebration taking

place worldwide this year, the festival

kicked off on the night of September

26 with a Saroyan theatrical

performance by the California

State University, Fresno Theatre

Arts Department. The performance

was followed by a dance party with

the ayf Armenian All Stars Band.

At dawn on September 27, organizers

were hard at work picking

grapes and then crushing the fruits

by stomping on them, until all that

was left was the juice. The liquid was

boiled to purify it and subsequently

cooked until 8 that night, when the

bubbling grape molasses became

foamy on top – hence the prpoor. Officiating

the harvest were the Very

Reverend Father Barthev Gulumian,

Reverend Father Vahan Gosdanian,

Reverend Father Hrant Serabian,

and Reverend Father Gomidas

Torosian, who together blessed

the four corners of the world.

The prpoor was then eaten in celebration

of the harvest. “I never

knew what it was, it’s fantastic,”

said Azad Deeb. “It’s like cotton

candy, very sweet.” Sebouh Serabian,

who had traveled from Los

Angeles, also enjoyed it. “It was

good, it kind of tasted like fuzz,”

he said. Prpoor isn’t for everyone,

however. “I don’t care for the prpoor

the first day,” said Pierre Pilavian.

“But once it sits and it gets cooler, I

like it, especially on pancakes.” After

settling, prpoor turns into a rich,

sweet syrup which can be eaten

with bread. It can also be used to

treat sore throats and coughs.

Other acts performing at the

festival included the San Fernando

Valley’s Hamazkayin Nairi Dance

Ensemble, which captivated the

audience with its performance of

traditional Armenian dances. Children’s

entertainment was provided

by Maggie while Tom Bozigian

gave Armenian-dance lessons. The

evening concluded with a dance

party by Khatchig Jingirian and

his band.

“I feel great today because of all

these Armenians from all over California

who came here to support

Fresno and the prpoor… all these

kids helping and learning about

Armenian culture and the tradition

of prpoor,” Pilavian said.

connect:

grandarmenianfestival.com

Above:

Officiating the

harvest were

from left to

right Reverend

Father Gomidas

Torosian,

Reverend Father

Hrant Serabian,

Very Reverend

Father Barthev

Gulumian,

Reverend Father

Vahan Gosdanian

Right: From Left

to Right Hratch

Abdulian, Hratch

Hovsepian and

Raffi Pilavian

serving up

prpoor.

Prelacy continues series of lectures on Christian education

GLENDALE, Calif. – On September

23, Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian,

co-director of the Prelacy’s

Christian Education Department,

presented the first lecture in a

three-part series titled “Christian

Education in Family, School,

Social, and Community Life” at

St. Mary’s Church in Glendale.

The second lecture in this series

(which is part of the larger, ongoing

“Year of Christian Education”

series) took place on October

1 and the third is planned to be

held on October 8.

Following the opening prayer by

Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian,

Prelate, and clergy members,

Master of Ceremonies Mrs.

Tamar Tufenkian-Seraydarian

reflected on the message of H.H.

Aram I, Catholicos of the Great

House of Cilicia, in declaring 2008

to be the “Year of Christian Education,”

and emphasized her belief

that the Armenian church, school,

and family are all vital to the proper

development of the Armenian

youth.

Fr. Muron began his lecture by

speaking of the overall mission of

the church and said Christian education

is at the heart of that mission.

Fr. Muron went on to speak of

the different stages in the development

and rearing of children, and

of the responsibility of parents to

provide the right instruction, starting

at a young age.

Stressing that spiritual nourishment

is just as vital as physical

growth and nourishment, Fr. Muron

presented a number of prayers

Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian, co-director

of the Prelacy’s Christian Education

Department, at the lectern.

Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian,

Prelate.

Community members gathered at St. Mary’s Church in Glendale.

which he said can be recited at different

times of the day and in different

circumstances to assist parents

in the religious instruction of

their children.

The program also included an

artistic portion in which highschool

students from Rose and

Alex Pilibos School participated

with songs and recitations.

In his closing remarks, the Prelate

spoke of the family-churchschool

connection and concluded

by noting the importance of the

respective and collaborative contributions

of clergy, parents, educators,

and community leaders in the

instruction of Armenian youths.

The event was followed by a reception

in the hall by the Board of

Trustees and Ladies’ Auxiliary.

Let us know what’s on your mind.

Write to us at

letters@reporter.am


The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008 9

Community

Saroyan centenary continues with several events in Fresno

by Sarah Soghomonian

FRESNO, Calif. – A complete

success – that’s what organizers

of the William Saroyan Centennial

Celebration are calling their

year-long tribute to the Pulitzer

Prize-winning author.

A group of Saroyan enthusiasts

from Fresno have spent three years

to plan the almost 100 individual

projects in honor of Fresno’s native

son.

“It’s been extremely rewarding,”

said Larry Balakian, one of the

lead organizers of the Saroyan Centennial

Celebration.

Saroyan lived a good portion of

his life in California’s San Joaquin

Valley, drawing a great deal of inspiration

from its agricultural communities.

“Saroyan is one of the great giants,”

said Edward EmanuEl,

theater director at California State

University, Fresno. “His work has

reached millions. Saroyan is still

as valuable today as when he was

writing.”

Fresno State is taking part in the

Centennial Celebration. EmanuEl

is directing Saroyan’s play Slaughter

of the Innocents.

“The play is very interesting from

a dramatic point of view,” Emanu-

El said. “I think it’s an important

piece. It’s a play that needs to be

seen.”

One of Saroyan’s lesser-known

works, Slaughter of the Innocence

is a dark, powerful piece that

was written in response to the

Joe McCarthy hearings of the

1950s.

While EmanuEl expressed his

admiration for classic Saroyan

plays such as Time of Your Life

(which won the Pulitzer Prize in

1940), The Human Comedy, and

Hello Out There, he said it was

important to stage a play, such

as Slaughter of the Innocence, that

showed a different side of the author.

Slaughter of the Innocence has

no specific setting or time frame.

For the Fresno State production,

EmanuEl chose a Caribbean island

as the setting.

The 33-member cast is working

on overdrive preparing for the production.

They’ve had only about a

month of rehearsal time. The 80-

minute production kicks off the

Fresno State theater season.

Slaughter of the Innocence opens

on October 3 and runs through

Slaughter of

Innocents.

Photos: The

Collegian’s Ryan

Tubongbanu.

October 11, at Fresno State’s John

Wright Theater.

“We are extremely excited and

honored to be part of a celebration

that honors Fresno’s greatest writer,”

said EmanueEl. “Saroyan helps

prove that Fresno has a lot more

to offer culturally than one would

think.”

The centennial celebration is “really

about community,” Balakian

said. “It has shown the community

in a very favorable light.”

The Saroyan Centennial Celebration

has garnered considerable media

attention, through television

coverage and series of articles. The

Fresno Bee, for instance, ran a series

of Saroyan’s writings and helped

promote the different events happening

around the San Joaquin

Valley.

The Fresno County Library has

also taken an active role in the

celebration, showcasing Saroyan’s

work at each of its branches.

Events honoring Saroyan started

back in January. They peaked

during August, when Saroyan

would have celebrated his 100th

birthday.

Upcoming centennial events include

a Saroyan exhibition, at the

Home Arts Building, during the

Fresno County Fair (October 1-12).

Centenary celebrations will come

to a close in November with a town

hall lecture at the Saroyan Theater

in Fresno.

“Our years of hard work and planning

paid off,” Balakian said. “It

shows that when a group comes together,

you can have a productive

outcome.”


You share the same

community. Discover what

happens when you share

the same experience.

For more information about

Relay For Life or to join an

event near you, visit

www.cancer.org/RelayNYNJ

or call 1.800.ACS.2345.

Paint the Town Purple in

celebration of Relay For Life on

May 1, May Day For Relay.

1.800.ACS.2345

www.cancer.org/relayNYNJ


10 The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008


The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008 11

National

Muron is blessed at Etchmiadzin in ancient ritual

n Continued from page

At 5 p.m., the bells of Etchmiadzin

started ringing loudly.

After shaking hands with Serge

Sargsian, the president of the Republic

of Armenia, the Catholicos

of All Armenians, Karekin II, took

his place at the very end of a long

procession. Toward the front of the

procession were junior clergy, followed

by more senior clergy, then

bishops, then archbishops, and finally,

the Catholicos and Supreme

Patriarch.

The clergy carried holy relics,

including the right hand of Saint

Gregory the Illuminator, the patron

saint of the Armenian Church

and the first Catholicos.

Bartholomew, the Ecumenical

Patriarch, was present, as were

other representatives of sister

churches.

Representing the Catholicos

of the Great House of Cilicia was

Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan,

Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy.

Representing the Armenian Patriarch

of Jerusalem was Archbishop

Nurhan Manoogian. The Armenian

Patriarch of Constantinople

was represented by Archbishop

Shahan Svajian.

The president of the Republic of

Nagorno Karabagh, Bako Sahakian,

as well as diplomats, ministers,

and other dignitaries were

also present.

Armenians from Etchmiadzin

and elsewhere in Armenia joined

perhaps two to three thousand

pilgrims from around the world

to witness the ceremony. They

congregated – and pushed forward

– in a massive crowd waiting

for the procession to come

their way, so they may be blessed

by the cross the Catholicos was

holding.

After the procession made its

ways to the stage, the ceremony

continued with the Lord’s Prayer.

The Etchmiadzin choir sang enthusiastically,

adding to the spiritual

ambiance.

The cauldron of pure olive oil was

opened. Over 40 ingredients, many

the essence of various flowers, were

blessed and added, as was balsam.

Senior clergymen, including Archbishop

Khajag Barsamian, Primate

of the Eastern Diocese, and

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian,

Primate of the Western Diocese,

made their way to the Catholicos

and the cauldron and presented ingredients.

As a symbol of the unity of the

Armenian church, Archbishop Koriun

Papian added newly blessed

muron from the Cilician See.

And then some of the old muron

was added.

“In the new blessing, the old muron

is poured in so the tradition

going back all the way to the first

Catholicos, going back to the beginning,

to Saint Gregory the Illuminator

is kept,” Archbishop Barsamian

told the Armenian Reporter.

He added that the muron “is the

symbol of the presence of the Holy

Sprit, the sign of the unity of the

Armenian Church, and it is the life

of the church.”

After the blessing, the time came

for the Catholicos to speak. All was

silent, and all were waiting to hear

what the pontiff was going to say.

The only sounds to be heard were

the rain falling on umbrellas and

raincoats, and, the occasional mobile

phone ringing.

“From the heights of heaven, holiness

descends once more today and

disperses blessing, grace, and exuberance

over our homeland, within

our souls, and throughout the whole

of Armenian life,” he said. “With

the prayerful participation of the

sons and daughters of our nation

Scenes from the blessing of the Holy Muron. Above: Catholicos Karekin II with

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Photos: Photolure.

dispersed throughout the world, we

bless the Holy Muron according to

the words granted from our Lord.

Glory, unending praise, and thanks

to our all-provident God.”

He also spoke about mixing the

old and new oils and the oil from

the Great House of Cilicia. “We

combined the previous muron,

through which we transmit the oil

blessed by our Lord from generation

to generation; and also mixed

the newly made muron of the Catholicosate

of the Great House of

Cilicia. We blessed it with our sacred

and cherished relics – with the

saving Cross of our Lord, the Holy

Lance, and the Holy Right Hand of

our Illuminator Pontiff,” the Catholicos

said.

When the ceremony was all

over, the Catholicos, the other

clergy, and the dignitaries left the

grounds; people rushed forward to

touch anything they could to the

now-blessed cauldron that held the

blessed muron.

“I was fortunate to have my scarf

touched to the Holy Muron,” said

Nancy Arabian, a pilgrim from

Tarzana, California. “Everyone

wanted their scarves to be touched

by the Holy Muron; I didn’t think I

was going to make it out alive. This

event was something that I wanted

to witness all my life. I have heard

the procedure from my parents. It

was a very important pilgrimage

for me”

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian,

who is based in Washington, said

he believed the laity in Armenia has

a great interest in religion, perhaps

because such interest had been discouraged

by the Communist Party

in the Soviet era. “They are getting

much closer to their religion,” Archbishop

Aykazian said.

One of the young people in

attendance was Narine Hakobyan,

who lives in Armenia and

is in her mid-twenties. She said,

“Each time a muron blessing is

held, more and more people

show up, of all ages. This means

our faith is spreading among our

people, wherever they might be

living.”

f


12 The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008

Community

Community in brief

John Papken Damboragian's 100th

Birthday.

John Papken

Damboragian turns 100

John Papken Damboragian just celebrated

his 100th birthday. A party

on August 24 attended by family

and friends marked the occasion.

Mr. Damboragian was born in

Worcester, Massachusetts, on August

25, 1908. At the age of 3, he was

taken to historical Armenia by his

parents. He returned to the United

States with his mother when he was

16 years old. He father had died in

Armenia during the Genocide.

Mr. Damboragian’s pride in his

heritage is only exceeded by his

pride in his family. He and his late

wife Mary were married for 54

years. Together they raised four

children who have blessed the family

with six grandchildren and six

great-grandchildren.

After working more than 45 years

in the photoengraving industry, he

retired at the age of 73. Known and

respected today for his honesty, integrity,

generosity, sense of humor,

and caring nature, he still enjoys

gardening, cooking, entertaining,

and a daily cigar.

He has been and continues to

be an inspiration and positive role

model to his children, grandchildren,

and great-grandchildren.

The destruction

of Smyrna in 1922

documented in new

edition

Sterndale Classics has just published

a new edition of George

Horton’s Blight of Asia, which was

originally written with a foreword

by James W. Gerard (former United

States ambassador to Germany).

The new edition includes a new introduction

by James L. Marketos, a

Greek-American attorney based in

Washington.

Dubbed “Gavur Izmir” (infidel

Smyrna) by fanatics, Smyrna was

destroyed by Turkish nationalists

in September 1922. Horton was the

United States consul in the city and

witnessed the carnage and burning

first hand.

According to Mr. Marketos,

Horton’s account “offers a clear

rationale for why the Turks would

have wanted to start the fire. . .

. Horton emphatically stated his

belief that the fire was intended

finally to exterminate Christianity

in Asia Minor and to render it

impossible for the Christians to

return, i.e. it was an intentional

act of genocide.”

The book, a paperback, spans

209 pages. It includes photos and

an index. Sterndale Classics is an

imprint of the Gomidas Institute

(London).


connect:

info@garodbooks.com

Calendar of Events

Hoy Lari to hold a

concert for children in

Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – Hoy Lari

will hold its first-ever solo concert

on Sunday, October 26, at Barnsdall

Gallery Theatre in Hollywood.

Two performances will take place,

one at noon, the other at 3:30 pm.

Hoy Lari is Paola Kassabian

and Janet Yetenekian. Together,

they form a dynamic duo entertaining

and educating kids of all

ages with their fun, upbeat songs.

The music is designed to encourage

children to sing in Armenian and

develop the Armenian language in

their formative years, while stimulating

imagination, cognition, and

self expression.

After their debut album Jamanagn

eh, Hoy Lari released Getseh

Pokreegner. The new album takes

children on imaginary adventures

with amusing songs about an elephant,

monkeys, astronauts, mixing

colors, and healthy foods.

connect: www.hoylari.com

www.itsmyseat.com

1-310-600-0207

Audience to laugh with

Dottie Bengoian in

Connecticut

TRUMBULL, Conn. – “Laugh with

Dottie Bengoian,” a performance

by the humorist, motivational

speaker, and educator, will take

place on October 19, at 12:30 P.M. at

the Armenian Church of the Holy

Ascension in Trumbull.

Early reservations are recommended.


connect:

1-203-372-5770.

Armenia’s

independence marked

in New Jersey

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. – Ara Papian,

who served as Armenia’s ambassador

to Canada from 2001 to 2006

and has since resigned from Armenia’s

diplomatic corps, was the

keynote speaker at a New Jersey

celebration of the 17th anniversary

of Armenia’s independence. The

event, which brought together 250

people, took place at the Dwight

Englewood School Auditorium in

Englewood. It was organized by the

ARF New Jersey “Dro” Gomideh.

Pauline Dostoumian, the gomideh

representative, said Armenia

needs to be ready to grab any opportunities

presented by the complex

and volatile situation in the

Caucasus. She argued that Armenia

could potentially lay claim to territories

now under Turkish rule.

Mr. Papian gave a 25-minute

PowerPoint presentation on the

subject of Armenian territorial

claims, decisions, and treaties. He

offered an argument that President

Woodrow Wilson’s arbitration of

Left: Arev Folk

Ensemble.

Below: Ara

Papian meeting

with ayf New

Jersey Seniors.

the borders between Armenia and

Turkey on November 22, 1920, was

still in effect. Mr. Papian’s interpretation

brought about a lively period

of questions and remarks.

The program included the performance

of Armenian songs by

the Hamazkayin Arev folk ensemble

of Boston. Traditional Armenian

instruments were played

under the directorship of Martin

Haroutunian. The audience appreciated

Ani Zargarian’s gracious

voice. Also on the program

was the Yeraz dance ensemble of

the Saint Sarkis Church of New

York, under the leadership of

Karnig Nercessian and Lena

Oranjian.


Northern California

OCTOBER 3 & 4 - ST. VARTAN

BAZAAR & FOOD FESTIVAL.

Location: St. Vartan Armenian

Church, 650 Spruce St., Oakland,

CA. noon to midnight Admission:

free. For more information

contact St. Vartan Armenian

Church, 510-893-1671; Stvartanoakland@aol.com.

OCTOBER 4 - ISABEL BAYRAK-

DARIAN, SOPRANO. Location:

Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness

Ave, San Francisco, CA. 8pm

Admission: $65/$40. For more

information contact San Francisco

Performances, (415) 398-

6449; info@performances.org.

OCTOBER 12 - ALLA LEVO-

NIAN IN CONCERT. Location:

Saroyan Hall, 825 Brotherhood

Way, San Francisco, CA. 4:00pm

Admission: $35 adults $20 stude.

For more information contact

Hamazkayin SF Chapter and

HMEM SF and Walnut Creek

Chapters, 650-583-5477;.

OCTOBER 19 - JOURNEY

TO HISTORIC ARMENIA - IN

SEARCH OF OUR ANCESTRAL

ROOTS. Location: St. Vartan

Armenian Church, 650 Spruce

St., Oakland, CA. 12 noon Admission:

$12.00. For more information

contact St. Vartan Cultural

Committee, 510-893- 1671;

lizojakian@yahoo.com.

OCTOBER 25 - ST. JOHN

FOOD FESTIVAL. Location:

St. John Armenian Church, 275

Olympia Way, San Francisco,

CA. 12:00noon-12:00midnight

Admission: N/A. For more information

contact St.

John Armenian Church, 415-661-

1142; nsarkiss@sbcglobal.net.

OCTOBER 29 - ORIENTAL

CARPETS IN EARLY RENAIS-

SANCE PAINTINGS: A NEW

INTERPRETATION. Location:

Rugs and Carpets, Inc., 931 No.

Amphlett Blvd., San Mateo, CA.

7:30 p.m. Admission: free. For

more information contact West

Coast Chapter of the Armenian

Rugs Society and by The S, (650)

343-8585; zzlorr@yahoo.com.

NOVEMBER 1 - KZV ARME-

NIAN SCHOOL BANQUET

WITH VARTAN GREGORIAN.

Location: Saroyan Hall, 825

Brotherhood Way, San Francisco,

CA. 6:30 PM Admission: tbd.

For more information contact

Ani Ayanian; anizenop@yahoo.

com.

NOVEMBER 8 - ARMENIAN

FOOD FESTIVAL AND BOU-

TIQUE NOEL. Location: Calvary

Armenian Congregational

Church, 725 Brotherhood Way,

San Francisco, CA. 12:00 -9:00

pm Admission: Free. For more

information contact Calvary

Armenian Congregational

Church, 415- 586-2000; Cacc@

cacc-sf.org.

NOVEMBER 9 - FASHION

SHOW. Location: HYATT RE-

GENCY SANTA CLARA ,CA,

5101 Great America Pkwy, Santa

Clara, CA. 12:30 PM Admission:

TBD. For more information contact

St. Andrew Cultural Committee,

(650)344-4707; sylvia.

baghdasarian@Lmco.com.

NOVEMBER 9 - FASHION

SHOW. Location: HYATT RE-

GECLANCY, 5101 Great America

Pkwy, Santa Clara, CA. 11:30AM

Admission: $60. For more information

contact St. Andrew Cultural

Committee, (650)344-4707;

sylvia.baghdasarian@Lmco.com.

NOVEMBER 21 - FROM CON-

STANTINOPLE TO TBILISI: AN

ARMENIAN LEGACY. Location:

St. Vartan Armenian Apostolic

Church, 650 Spruce Street, Oakland,

CA. 7:30pm Admission:

$35 / $28 / $15. For more information

contact Bay Area Classical

Harmonies, (510) 868-0695;

Info@BayAreaBACH.org.

NOVEMBER 22 - FROM CON-

STANTINOPLE TO TBILISI: AN

ARMENIAN LEGACY. Location:

St. John Armenian Apostolic

Church, 275 Olympia Blvd, San

Francisco, CA. 7:30pm Admission:

$35 / $28 / $15. For more

information contact Bay Area

Classical Harmonies, (510) 868-

0695; Info@BayAreaBACH.org.

NOVEMBER 23 - FROM CON-

STANTINOPLE TO TBILISI: AN

ARMENIAN LEGACY. Location:

St. Andrew Armenian Apostolic

Church, 11370 S. Stelling Road,

Cupertino, CA. 5:00pm Admission:

$35 / $28 / $15. For more

information contact Bay Area

Classical Harmonies, (510) 868-

0695; Info@BayAreaBACH.org.

JANUARY 18 - CAL PERFOR-

MANCES: SERGEY KHACHA-

TRYAN VIOLIN WITH LUSINE

KHACHATRYAN, PIANO. Location:

Hertz Hall, University of

California, Berkeley, CA. 3p.m.

Admission: $46. For more information

contact Cal Performances,

510.642.9988; tickets@

calperfs.berkeley.edu.

MARCH 15 - CRD BENEFIT

CONCERT. Location: California

Palace of the Legion of Honor,

100 34th Ave, San Francisco, CA.

2:00 pm Admission: TBD. For

more information contact Support

Committee for Armenia’s

Cosmic Ray Division, (650) 926-

4444; anahid1@sonic.net.

Central California

OCTOBER 5 - AGBU-LUN-

CHEON. Location: St. Pauls

Armenian Church, S.W. Corner

of 1st and Dakota, Fresno,

CA. 1:00 pm Admission: $12.00.

For more information contact

AGBU-Fresno Chapter, 559-970-

9354; dancing_zar@yahoo.com.

OCTOBER 7 - LEARN CON-

VERSATIONAL WESTERN

ARMENIAN. Location: Charlie

Keyan Armenian Community

School, 108 N. Villa, Fresno, CA.

6:30 pm Admission: $30.00. For

more information contact Fresno

AGBU, 559-431-3054; dancing_zar@yahoo.com.

Southern California

OCTOBER 3 - KOKO EXHIBI-

TION. Location: STEPHANIE’S

ART GALLERY, 466 Foothill

Blvd., La Canada, CA. 6:30 PM

to 10 PM Admission: free. For

more information contact

STEPHANIE’S ART GALLERY,

818 790-4905; stephaniesart@

att.net.

OCTOBER 4 - AGBU MD-

SCHOOL HOLD ‘EM HYE

LLL POKER TOURNAMENT

FUNDRAISER. Location: AGBU

MDSchool HOLD ‘EM HYE lll

Poker Tournament Fundraiser,

6844 Oakdale Ave., Canoga Park,

CA. 7:30 PM Admission: $200.00

Buy In. For more information

contact AGBU MDS Alumni Association,

; info@mdsalumni.

com.

OCTOBER 4 - DR. HAKOB SA-

NASARYAN TO LECTURE ON

ARMENIA ENVIRONMENTAL

ISSUES. Location: Glendale Public

Library, 222 E. Harvard Street,

Glendale, CA. October 4th &5th

Admission: Free. For more information

contact Glendale Public

Library, (818) 548-3288; EGrigorian@ci.glendale.ca.us.

OCTOBER 4 - BIKFAYA, LEB-

ANON - A LIFE-CHANGING

EXPERIENCE. Location: Western

Prelacy, 6252 Honolulu Avenue,

La Crescenta, CA. 4:00pm

- 6:00pm Admission: FREE. For

more information contact Armenian

Church Youth Association,

818-859-9081; acyaglendale@yahoo.com.

OCTOBER 5 - ISABEL BAYRAK-

DARIAN WITH THE ARME-

NIAN CHAMBER PLAYERS.

Location: Renée & Henry Seger-


The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008 13

Community

Calendar of Events

strom Concert Hall, 615 Town

Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA.

7:00 pm. Admission: $30-$195.

For more information contact

Philharmonic Society of Orange

County, 949-553-2422; marie@

philharmonicsociety.org

OCTOBER 5, 2008 - ST. PE-

TER ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC

CHURCH FAMILY PICNIC. Location:

St. Peter Armenian Apostolic

Church of Van Nuys. Location:

17231 Sherman Way, Van

Nuys, CA, 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Admission is free. For more information

contact the

OCTOBER 5 - ARMENIAN MU-

SICAL LECTURE & MINI-CON-

CERT. Location: Ararat- Eskijian

Muesum, 15105 Mission Hills

Rd, Mission Hills, CA. 2:30 P.M.

Admission: Free Admission. For

more information contact Ms.

Maggie Mangarsarian-Goschin,

(818) 838-4862;

OCTOBER 5 - EMILY’S STEM

CELL SURGERY FUNDRAISER.

Location: Palladio Hall, 1018 E.

Colorado St, Glendale, CA. 7 pm

Admission: 150.00 or any. For

more information contact Stage

1 Productions, 818-482-0358;

djraymx@yahoo.com. Tickets on

www.itsmyseat.com.mgoschin@

mindspring.com.church office

at (818)344-4860.

OCTOBER 9 - ARMENIAN

AMERICAN WOMEN IN BUSI-

NESS EXCELLENCE AWARDS

LUNCHEON. Location: Hilton

Hotel, 100 West Glenoaks Blvd.,

Glendale, CA. 11 am Admission:

50.00. For more information

contact AACC GLAC, 818-247-

0196; aacc@armenianchamber.

com. Tickets on www.itsmyseat.

com.

OCTOBER 9 - DEAD SERIOUS

- OCT 9 - NOV 9. Location: Luna

Playhouse, 3706 San Fernando

Rd, Glendale, CA. Various; 8 pm

Admission: $20. For more information

contact Luna Playhouse,

818.500.7200; kathypearson13@

hotmail.com. Tickets on www.

itsmyseat.com.

OCTOBER 9 - JAZZ PIANO

STYLINGS OF VARDAN OVES-

PIAN. Location: Pasadena Jazz

Institute, 260 East Colorado

Blvd Suite 206, Pasadena, CA.

8:30 pm Admission: $20.00. For

more information contact Paul

Lines, 626-398-3344; paul@pasjazz.org.

Tickets on www.itsmyseat.com.

OCTOBER 10 - ALLA LEVO-

NIAN CONCERT. Location:

Glendale Presbyterian Church,

125 S Louise St, Glendale, CA.

8:00 Admission: $40. For more

information contact ARS Glendale

Sepan Chapter, 818-246-

5549; emmasalmassian@yahoo.

com. Tickets on www.itsmyseat.com.

OCTOBER 12 - ANCWR ANNU-

AL BANQUET. Location: Ronald

Reagan Presidential Library, 40

Presidential Dr, Simi Valley, CA.

5:30 Admission: Not set. For

more information contact Armenian

National Committee

Western Region, 8185001918;

teresa@anca.org. Tickets on

www.itsmyseat.com

OCTOBER 12 - BURBANK

COMMUNITY PICNIC. Location:

Robert E Gross Park, 2800

W Empire Ave, Burbank, CA.

11am - 5pm Admission: $3.00

Adults & $1.00. For more information

contact Burbank Armenian

Center, 818-562-1918; info@

burbankanc.org.

OCTOBER 13 - BOOK EVENT:

“ME AS HER AGAIN” BY NAN-

CY AGABIAN. Location: Abril

Bookstore, 415 E. Broadway

#102, Glendale, CA. 7:30 pm Admission:

FREE. For more information

contact Abril Bookstore,

818 243 4112; info@abrilbooks.

com.

OCTOBER 13 - DANCE CLASS.

Location: Homenetmen Ararat

Chapter, 3347 San Fernando

Road, Glendale, CA. 7:30 pm

Admission: $40.00 Donation.

For more information contact

Homenetmen Ararat Chapter,

818-640-2657; arenanor@aol.

com.

OCTOBER 18, 2008 - ST. PE-

TER LADIES SOCIETY “PUT-

TIN’ ON THE RITZ” ANNUAL

FASHION SHOW & LUN-

CHEON. Location: Sheraton

Universal Hotel, Grand Ballroom,

333 Universal Hollywood

Drive, Universal City, CA. Boutique

& Social Hour at 10:00 a.m.

Luncheon at 12:00 p.m. Tickets:

$75.00. For more information

contact Manoush Devian (818)

886-8950 or Hermine Mitilian

(818) 988-3084.

OCTOBER 24 - ARPA INTER-

NATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL.

Location: Egyptian Theater, 6712

Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA.

6pm Admission: $11-$25. For

more information contact AF-

FMA, 323-663-1882; affma95@

aol.com.

OCTOBER 23 - BOOK EVENT:

“WILLIAM SAROYAN: PLAC-

ES IN TIME”. Location: Abril

Bookstore, 415 E. Broadway

#102, Glendale, CA. 7:30 pm Admission:

Free. For more information

contact Abril Bookstore,

818 243 4112; info@abrilbooks.

com.

OCTOBER 24 - AESA ENGI-

NEERING AND SCIENCES JOB

FAIR. Location: Glendale Community

College, 1500 North

Verdugo Road, Glendale, CA.

11:00am- 3:00 pm Admission:

Free. For more information contact

rmenian Engineers and Scientist

of America, Inc. (AESA),

626.376.7420; Misak Zetilyan.

OCTOBER 25 - ANC-PN AN-

NUAL HAROUT BARAHANTES.

Location: Homenetmen Ararat

Banquet Hall, 3347 N San Fernando

Rd, Glendale, CA. 8:00

pm Admission: TBD. For more

information contact ANC Professional

Network, ; info@ancpn.

com. Tickets on www.itsmyseat.

com.

OCTOBER 25 – ARMENIAN

PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY

50TH ANNIVERSARY GALA.

Location; The Sheraton Universal

Hotel. Special guest, Vartan

Oskanian, former Minister of

Foreign Affairs, RA. Dark Eyes

Band. For sponsorship and tickets

information contact APS

at apsla@apsla.org or 818-685-

9946

OCTOBER 25 - ST. JAMES AR-

MENIAN CHUCH LADIES SO-

CIETY PRESENT “FIESTA OLE,”

ANNUAL LUNCHEON AND

COUNTRY STORE: Location:

St. James Armenian Church,

Gogian Hall, 4950 W. Slauson

Avenue,Los Angeles. 11:00

a.m. Country Store Bake Sale;

12 Noon Luncheon. Donation:

$35.00. Reservations: Shirley

Moore (310) 670-7177; Alice Simonian

(323) 465-6742.

OCTOBER 26 - HOY LARI -

CHILDREN’S MUSIC CONCERT.

Location: Barnsdall Gallery Theatre,

4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los

Angeles, CA. 3:300 pm Admission:

$20.00. For more information

contact Horizon / Hoy Lari,

(310) 600-0207; hoylari@yahoo.

com. Tickets on www.itsmyseat.

com.

OCTOBER 26 - INSIGHT & DR.

HAKOBYAN LIVE IN GLEN-

DALE. Location: Glendale Public

Library, 222 E. Harvard Street,

Glendale, CA. 7:30 p.m. Admission:

$36.00. For more information

contact LNH Insight Inc.,

818-230-2789; joeseifert@att.net.

Tickets on www.itsmyseat.com.

NOVEMBER 1 - LOS ANGE-

LES 40TH ANNIVERSARY CEL-

EBRATION DINNER DANCE.

Location: Glendale Ararat Center,

3347 N San Fernando Rd,

Los Angeles, CA. 7:00 pm Admission:

$100. For more information

contact LA Homenetmen,

(818) 4930936; datevd@

hotmail.com.

OCTOBER 26 - HAMAZKAY-

IN 80TH ANNIVERSARY DIN-

NER BANQUET. Location: Bagramian

Hall, 900 West Lincoln

Avenue, Montebello, CA. 5:00

p.m. Admission: $60. For more

information contact Hamazkayin

of Western U.S. Region,

818-935-3555; info@hamazkayin.net.

OCTOBER 27 - DR. HAKOBY-

AN AND INSIGHT LIVE. Location:

Glendale Public Library,

222 E Harvard St, Glendale, CA.

7:00 p.m. Admission: $40.00.

For more information contact

LNH Insight, Inc., 818-230-

2789; joeseifert@att.net. Tickets

on www.itsmyseat.com.

OCTOBER 31 - GREATEST

HITS BAND - HALLOWEEN

BASH @ SIDE-BAR. Location:

Sidebar, 1114 N. Pacific Ave.,

Glendale, CA. 9 PM Admission:

$10. For more information contact

Greatest Hits Band, (323)

365-4796; info@greatesthitsband.com.

OCTOBER 31 - AGBU HAL-

LOWEEN BASH. Location:

Citizen Smith, 1600 N Cahuenga

Blvd, Hollywood, CA.

9PM - 2 AM Admission: $25

presale $30 door. For more

information contact AGBU

YP, ; Ani_AGBUYPLA@yahoo.

com. Tickets on www.itsmyseat.com.

NOVEMBER 1 - FRIENDS OF

MASSIS 5K RUN/WALK. Location:

Woodley Park, 6335 Woodley

Ave, Van Nuys, CA. 8:30 AM

Admission: $25. For more information

contact HMEM Massis,

(818) 554-4397; massis5k@gmail.

com. Tickets on www.itsmyseat.

com.

NOVEMBER 2 - AKH’TAMAR

DANCE ENSEMBLE OF NJ

ST. THOMAS ARMENIAN

CHURCH IN GLENDALE. Location:

Glendale High School Auditorium,

2000 W. BROADWAY,

Glendale, CA. 6pm Admission:

$50 - $35 - $20-$12. For more information

contact Tekeyan and

OIA, 818-243-4112.

NOVEMBER 3 - DR. HAKO-

BYAN AND INSIGHT LIVE. Location:

Glendale Public Library,

222 E Harvard St, Glendale, CA.

7:00 p.m. Admission: $40.00.

For more information contact

LNH Insight, Inc., 818-230-

2789; joeseifert@att.net. Tickets

on www.itsmyseat.com.

NOVEMBER 7 - DR. HAKO-

BYAN AND INSIGHT LIVE IN

GLENDALE. Location: Glendale

Public Library, 222 E Harvard

St, Glendale, CA. 7:00 p.m.

Admission: $40. For more information

contact LNH Insight,

Inc., (818) 230-2789; joeseifert@

att.net. Tickets on www.itsmyseat.com.

NOVEMBER 7 - AESA 25TH

ANNIVERSARY BANQUET. Location:

Renaissance Banquet

Hall, 1236 S Central Ave, Glendale,

CA. 8:00 pm Admission:

TBD. For more information contact

AESA, (818) 547-3372; contact@aesa.org.

NOVEMBER 8 – “SAVE THE

DATE” ST. PETER ARMENIAN

APOSTOLIC CHURCH 50TH

ANNIVERSARY DINNER &

CELEBRATION: Location: Nazarian

Center of the AGBU Manoogian

Demirjian School, Canoga

Park – 6:00pm.

NOVEMBER 8 - ST PETER AR-

MENIAN CHURCH OF VAN

NUYS 50TH ANNIVERSARY

DINNER. Location: AGBU-AYA

Nazarian Center, 6844 Oakdale

Ave., Canoga Park, CA. 6:00 p.m.

Admission: $150.00/person. For

more information contact St

Peter Armenian Church of Van

Nuys, 818-886-8950; eilesq@aol.

com.

NOVEMBER 9 -THE ARME-

NIAN EYECARE PROJECT

WILL HOST ITS SEVENTH

ANNUAL NEWPORT GALA.

Location: The Balboa Bay Club,

Newport Beach. The event

will honor Nishan and Ruby

Ann Derderian with a Lifetime

Humanitarian Awards

and celebrate “Bringing Sight

to Armenian Eyes” for sixteen

years. Dinner is at 6:00pm,

$500 per person and proceeds

will benefit the Project’s programs

to eliminate preventable

blindness in Armenia.

For advance reservations and

additional information, contact

the AECP office toll free

at 866-448-2327.

NOVEMBER 9 - LEYLA

SARIBEKYAN EV ARSEN

GRIGORIAN(MRRO). Location:

Alex Theater, 216 North Brand

Boulevard, Glendale, CA. 20:00

Admission: Soon. For more information

contact Apricot Entertainment,

818 397 8479;.

NOVEMBER 13 - DR. HAKO-

BYAN & INSIGHT LIVE. Location:

Glendale Public Library,

222 E Harvard St, Glendale, CA.

7:00 p.m. Admission: $40. For

more information contact LNH

Insight, Inc., (818) 230-2789;

joeseifert@att.net. Tickets on

www.itsmyseat.com.

NOVEMBER 15 - ANOUSHA-

VAN ABRAHAMIAN EDUCA-

TIONAL FUND. Location: Palladio,

1018 E Colorado St, Glendale,

CA. 7:00 pm Admission:

$100.00 per person. For more

information contact Ofik &

Roza, (818) 363-7865; ofikabrahamian@hotmail.com.

NOVEMBER 15 - 50TH ANNI-

VERSARY AYF MONTEBELLO

& ALUMNI REUNION. Location:

Bagramian Hall, 900 W

Lincoln Ave, Montebello, CA.

8:00PM Admission: $40. For

more information contact AYF

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14 The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008

Armenia

World renowned doctors to perform 50 lifechanging

surgeries in Armenia this week

Cafesjian Family

Foundation

takes the lead in

organizing Smile

Network mission to

Armenia

by Paul Chaderjian in

Yerevan

YEREVAN – Every morning, fouryear-old

Gayane cries and begs not

to be taken to school. She covers

her mouth so that people don’t see

her lips. But they do, and they often

react.

Gayane was born with a cleft lip

– a genetic defect also known as

cheiloschisis. In Armenia, they still

call it a “harelip,” a pejorative other

cultures and nations have already

retired from their languages.

No matter what it’s called or the

age in which we live, people on the

streets here often stare at Gayane.

Kids at school don’t want to be

around her. Some classmates make

snide remarks. Others tease and

bully her. Some adults here think

of the split in her lip as a curse or a

sign that she is mentally disabled.

Unfortunately, Gayane’s story is

not unique; but this weekend, Gayane

tortured life will change forever

thanks to a team of volunteer specialists

from the United States participating

in the first Smile Project

mission in Armenia.

More than a dozen doctors, nurses,

and other specialists will be in

Yerevan to examine 250 patients

with either a cleft lip, a cleft palate,

or both. Fifty of these patients will

undergo surgery between Monday,

October 6, and Friday, October 10.

“The two surgeons leading the

team are both renowned cleft surgeons,”

said Madlene Minnasian,

director of the Smile Project. “One

is Dr. Les Mohler, and the second

is Dr. Samir Mardini. They call

him Magic Hands. We’re very lucky

to have world-renowned surgeons

come to this mission.”

Project Smile

Project Smile was initiated by the

Cafesjian Family Foundation, Hope

for the City, and the Smile Network

– which leads similar projects

around the world. The three Minneapolis-based

organizations have

come together to address cleft-care

needs in Armenia.

In addition, Project Smile will

give the local medical community

a chance to listen to world authorities

on cleft care through lectures.

Local physicians and nurses will

also shadow the guests and learn by

observing their American counterparts.

Dr. Les Mohler. Photo: Andrew Tonn.

“Coming to Armenia are expert

anesthesiologists, pediatricians,

operating room nurses, ward

nurses, medical recordkeepers, and

a host of nonclinical volunteers,”

said Ms. Minassian. “It’s a very

good group of 19 volunteers, one

of which is of Armenian heritage.

He’s second or third generation Armenian,

Dr. Robert Chantigian,

anesthesiologist.”

It’s estimated that one in 700–

1000 kids are born with a cleft lip

or cleft palate, both considered

the most common birth defects in

the world. While there are no thorough

statistics of how cleft lip and

cleft palate have been successfully

treated in Armenia, the need for

surgical intervention became obvious

when Cafesjian Family Foundation

board member Megan Doyle

came to Armenia for a fact-finding

mission last November with Kim

Valentini, the founder of the

Smile Network.

“The Smile Network has been operating

all over the world for many

years,” said Ms. Minassian. “They

reach out to the international community,

and if they find a need for

cleft care in any country, they begin

their work. Through the generosity

and coordination of Hope

for the City and its founder Megan

Doyle, we were able to meet Kim

Valentini, who is founder of the

Smile Network. It was wonderful

to host Megan and Kim in Armenia.

The passion and love they have for

children all over the world is inspirational

and exemplary.”

Megan and Dennis Doyle established

Hope for the City eight years

ago to help fight poverty, hunger,

and disease around the world by

utilizing corporate surplus. The

couple’s organization has brought

more than $40 million in medical

equipment, supplies, and medication

to Armenia over the past few

years and was instrumental in

bringing the Smile Network to Armenia.

“Mrs. Doyle came to oversee and

visit her projects in Armenia, and

she brought Mrs. Valentini with

her,” said Ms. Minassian. “The visit

helped determine that there was a

need for cleft care in Armenia, even

though we have experienced, competent,

very professional maxillofacial

surgeons here. The problem

was in the ability for the patient

to pay for the care and access to

surgery.”

The government of the Republic

of Armenia tells the Armenian

Reporter that it offers a $700 stipend

for children under seven in

need of reconstructive cleft-lip or

cleft-palate surgeries, which are estimated

to cost around $2,000 in

Armenia and upwards of $10,000

if performed in the United States.

One local surgeon says that the

government subsidy does not cover

costs for surgery, and the families

are asked to pay the difference.

Preparing for the

mission

During Mrs. Doyle’s and Mrs. Valentini’s

trip to Armenia last November,

the Smile Project was able

to secure the support of Armenia’s

Ministry of Health.

“We met with many different institutions

in order to do a search

to find a partner,” said Ms. Minassian,

and we found our partner in

Dr. Les Mohler. Photo: Marc Ascher.

the Arabkir Medical Center, which

is run by Dr. Ara Babloyan. It’s

a privately owned and the largest

pediatrics hospital in Armenia. Dr.

Babloyan is a very capable, brilliant

person.”

The Smile Project also partnered

with the Health ministry’s Mother

and Child Department, which was

able to tap into public records and

its regional polyclinics and provide

a list of hundreds of children born

with cleft conditions since 1988.

“The lists were pretty extensive,

and we tried to target younger children

that we thought would have

not been operated on,” said Ms.

Minassian. “The lists did not indicate

whether these children had

had surgery. We just had statistics

of the birth defects.”

While compiling lists of prospective

patients, the Smile Project also

engaged local media to reach out to

families in Yerevan and throughout

the republic. The media campaign

resulted in hundreds of calls from

parents with children who needed

cleft care as well as adults, well into

their 40s, who had had a series of

unsuccessful cleft procedures.

“We have so much support that it

is surprising,” said Erik Grigoryan,

project manager for the Smile

Project. “Armenians are usually less

volunteerism-oriented, and it was

a surprise for me to get the type

of feedback we have been receiving.

For example, we went to the hotels

and asked for discounts and said

these doctors are coming to Yerevan

to perform free surgeries. We

received 25–30 percent discounts

plus car service from Hotel Meg.”

Another big surprise for Mr.

Grigoryan has been the number

of calls he has been receiving from

people who want to volunteer next

week. He has enlisted psychologists,

speech therapists, translators, and

those who wants to drive patients

and their parents to and from the

screenings and surgeries.

“One woman called and wanted to

cook for the patients and the other

volunteers,” said Mr. Grigoryan.

One of the other businesses

heavily involved with getting the

word out was Cascade Insurance,

which took the initiative to print

and distribute posters to all local

and regional hospitals, clinics, and

dental offices informing the public

about the Smile Project.

“When people call to register

for the screenings,” said Yvetta

Ghazaryan, project coordinator,

“they cannot believe that

this medical attention is possible

in Armenia. Many patients and

their families have been waiting

for this mission with a lot of hope

and they trust us. They know that

with the help of our mission, the

children will begin a new life. They

will also gain the invaluable gift of

a new smile.

Preparing for this

mission

With the health ministries of the

Republic of Armenia and the Republic

of Nagorno-Karabakh, the

Arabkir Medical Center, and the Cafesjian

Family Foundation teamed

up to organize the first Smile Project

mission, the Fund for Armenian

Relief (FAR), and the Hand in Hand

nongovernmental organization in

Karabakh also joined the project.

“FAR is taking care of transportation

costs and food and lodging for

our patients, so the 50 who are chosen

for surgery will then get their

transportation compensated for

and will get their nutrition,” said

Ms. Minassian. “They will bring

food to the children who are in

post-operation care, and they will

also pay for the lodging of one relative

if they are from out of town.”

Helping locate patients with

cleft care needs in the Republic of

Nagorno-Karabakh was the Hand

in Hand organization, which is a

partnership of several Canadian-

Armenian medical associations.

Hand in Hand provides free dental

care through mobile clinics and

several stationary clinics all over

Karabakh. Since cleft children have

major dental care needs, Hand in

Hand was able to let cleft children’s

parents know about the Smile Project

mission.

“They’ve been instrumental as

our Karabakh partners.” said Ms.

Minassian.

First week of October

After screening exams on Saturday

and Sunday, October 4 and

5, the visiting medical specialists

will meet and discuss each of the

cases. The team will see 17 patients

an hour and 250 patients over the

weekend.

“Fifty-five of the patients are under

seven and are awaiting their

first surgeries,” said Ms. Ghazaryan,

the project coordinator. “Other patients

are as old as 43, who need

additional operations. There’s one

patient who has had 11 surgeries

already and had complications, infections,

and sometimes the palate

cracks were not closed properly.”

Ms. Ghazaryan says patients are

coming from all over the Republic

of Armenia, from Karabakh, as

well as Javakh in Georgia. Those

patients who live in Yerevan or are

a short distance away have already

been prescreened by Dr. Harach

Arshakyan, a plastic surgeon

from the Arabkir Medical Center.

Dr. Arshakyan has been organizing

the clinical aspect of this first mission,

and he has already seen 150

patients who will be examined by

the team from the Smile Network.

Dr. Arshakyan tells the Armenian

Reporter that cleft issues arise in

the first three months of a pregnancy,

and he tries to advocate that

in addition to genetic factors, malnutrition

and low folic acids may

also be factors in children being

born with cleft palates and lips. He

said he sees a great need for the local

medical community to develop

cleft care services and deal with the

current need.

“The patients already screened

by Dr. Arshakyan will meet our

visiting pediatricians and with our

cleft surgeons and nurses,” said Ms.

Minassian. “Vital statistics will be

taken, and we will make sure that

the child is healthy, that the child

doesn’t have any conditions or issues

that would lead to complications

or inability to operate.”

After the initial examinations,

the team will meet Sunday afternoon,

prioritize the 250 patients

and schedule surgeries for the top

50 patients.

“The highest priority is for children

that have problems with

nutrition,” said Ms. Minassian.

“Children who have not had an operation

before will also be a high

priority. With a condition like cleft

palate, there are difficulties in eating,

so if you’re trying to feed with

a bottle, and the child is very young,

they can’t suckle. And most of these

children end up being fed through

a feeding tube. Also, drinking from

a cup, even drinking from a bottle

can result from the milk coming

out of the nose.”

After the screenings, the Smile

Project team will schedule 10 daily

surgeries for five days. Two different

surgical teams will operate in

two separate operating rooms, and

surgeries may take between 40

minutes to two hours.

“Two hundred cleft care patients

will not have the opportunity to be

treated,” said Ms. Minassian, “Instead

of being turned away, we’re

organizing a spring mission; but

we’re going to need funds to do that.

The funds for this week’s mission

are covered, but we’re going to have

to share in the Smile Network’s

costs for a follow-up mission.” f

connect:

madleneminassian@gmail.com

(818) 434 1725

+374 99 00 25 30


The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008 15

Armenia

From Armenia, in brief

Minister discusses

potential impact of

global financial crisis

Tigran Davtian, Armenia’s finance

minister, at a press conference on

September 30 said he expected the

short-term impact of the global

financial crisis on Armenia to be

minimal. According to Armenpress,

the minister acknowledged that

some negative influence might be

felt over the long haul. “Our share

in the world financial market is not

big,” noted the minister.

Serge Sargsian

meets with Georgian

president in Tiblisi

President Serge Sargsian went to

Tbilisi for an official visit on September

30 to meet his Georgian

counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili.

Armenia’s president expressed

his condolences for the lost lives

after the conflict in August in the

country. Both men stressed the importance

of the centuries-long relationship

of Armenia and Georgia

and underscored the necessity to

further deepen relations and foster

development between the two

countries. According to Armenpress,

the presidents also discussed

a number of issues on economic

cooperation and partnership including

the spheres of energy and

transport, making special reference

to border zoning activities,

inter-border cooperation, as well as

the facilitation of entry processes

for the citizens of both countries.

According to Arminfo Georgia

and Armenia reached an agreement

to set up a consortium on

the construction of a highway between

the two states that will run

through Ajaria. They are hopeful

that the consortium will procure

the necessary funds for the construction

of this highway in two

months’ time. According to the

Georgian president, they have already

started construction through

the aid of foreign finances. Almost

70 percent of all Armenian trade

flows through Georgia.

Mr. Sargsian also stressed that

Georgia’s stability was imperative

for peace and stability in the entire

region. Noting that Armenia has

a strategic partnership with Russia,

at the same time, Armenia and

Georgia are neighbors. “Our commitments

as partners, neighbors,

and strategic allies must not bother

each other and must not contradict

one another,” the Armenian president

said.

Hovik Abrahamian

elected as Speaker of

the National Assembly

On September 29, Hovik Abrahamian,

member of the ruling

Republican Party of Armenia (RPA),

was elected by secret ballot as the

new Speaker of Armenia’s National

Assembly. Larissa Alaverdian of

the Heritage Party was also nominated

for the position. She received

5 votes, while Mr. Abrahamian received

110 votes.

According to Armenpress, Mr.

Abrahamian took his oath as a

newly elected member of parliament

and then presented his program.

He stressed the necessity of

mutual respect and tolerance, and

espoused an atmosphere of partnership.

The former Speaker of the National

Assembly Tigran Torossian,

had been ousted out by his party,

which designates the Speaker according

to the coalition agreement.

Mr. Torossian later resigned

from the RPA.

Hranush Hakobyan.

Serge Sargsian

in Tbilisi

with Mikheil

Saakashvili.

Photos:

Photolure.

Hranush Hakobyan

appointed minister of

diaspora affairs

Hranush Hakobyan was appointed

as minister of diaspora affairs on

October 2 by a presidential decree.

She was relieved at the same time

T. Sarkisian at the Agroforum opening.

of her position as chair of the parliamentary

committee on Foreign

Affairs and Diaspora Relations. The

diaspora ministry is a new ministry

that will now be fully operational.

According to Arminfo, Ms. Hakobyan

graduated from Yerevan State

University with a degree in applied

mathematics. She has been a member

of parliament since 1999 and

served as Minister of Labor and Social

Affairs from 1996 to 1998.

Fruitful Armenia

Agroforum opens in

Yerevan

The fourth international Fruitful

Armenia Agroforum was launched

by Seda Stepanyan

David Nalbandian said these

words during a press conference in

Yerevan on October 2. The professional

tennis player, who is ranked

7th in the world, arrived in Armenia

on the invitation of Argentinian-Armenian

investor Eduardo

Eurnekian. On October 2, Mr.

Nalbandian gave master classes

to young Armenian tennis players

and then played a friendly exhibition

game with Armenia’s top lawn

tennis player Harutyun Sofyan.

The renowned tennis player said

that he always dreamed of coming

to Armenia but there was

in Yerevan on September 30. Present

at the opening ceremonies was

Armenia’s Prime Minister Tigran

Sarkisian, who said that agriculture

development is one of the top

priorities of the government. According

to Mediamax, the prime

minister said, “Today agriculture

secures 30 percent of Armenia’s

GDP, and this is a quite high index.”

Armenia was one of the first

states from the post-Soviet era to

implement radical reforms in agriculture.

However at this stage,

Armenia must pay more attention

to infrastructure development, including

irrigation.

Minister of Agriculture

Aramayis Grigoryan said that

the primary objective of the forum

is to study the experience of

developed countries and effectively

implement them in Armenia.

Fruitful-Armenia Fund was established

in 2005, and its main goal

is to secure development of farm

economies and expansion of prospects

for stable development in agriculture.

The event is organized by

Argentinean-Armenian businessperson

Eduardo Eurnekian.

Digitec 2008 launched

in Yerevan

The fourth annual international exhibition

Digitec 2008 was launched

in Yerevan on October 3 and will

run till October 5. According to the

never enough time because of his

extremely tight schedule. He will

be in Armenia for three days but

hopes that he will be able to travel

to his “first” homeland more often

after finishing his career in professional

tennis. “I have two homelands

and Armenia is the first one.

I am proud to be able to be here”

said Nalbandian.

During the press conference,

Mr. Nalbandian recalled that he

won his first championship at

12 years old and devoted his victory

to his family, which included

his father Norberto (deceased),

mother Alda, and two older

brothers Dario and Javier, who

also play tennis.

f

head of the Union of Information

Technology Enterprises Karen

Vardanian, the objective of this

annual exhibition is to create favorable

conditions to present Armenia’s

achievements in the sphere of

information technology. The exhibition

also provides companies the

opportunity to discuss their issues,

study the dynamics of the field, understand

some of the challenges,

and become acquainted with each

other’s achievements. Also it will

serve as a vehicle to strengthen

cooperation between the state and

the private sector.

Simultaneous events will be taking

place like DigiLive. About 50

local and international IT organizations

will be participating including,

Microsoft RA, Softline, MediaStyle

and Moscow Teleport.

Young Armenian

chess players to take

part in world youth

championships in

Vietnam

Fifteen Armenian chess players will

be traveling to Vun Tau, Vietnam,

between October 19 and 31 to take

part in the World Youth Championship.

Officials from the Armenian

Chess Federation said that

chess players from more than 100

countries will be participating in

the tournament.

f

“I am Armenian and we are a nation of fighters”

David Nalbandian at a press briefing

in Yerevan. Photo: Photolure.

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16 The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008

Armenia

Military training aims to enhance regional trust

Cooperative

Longbow/Lancer

NATO military

training commences

in Armenia

by Armen Hakobyan

YEREVAN – Sheri Maclean is from

Ontario, Canada. Even though this

is her first visit to Armenia, the

ancient country has already left a

warm impression upon her. She

has visited Republic Square, which

according to her “is simply amazing.”

Armenian soldiers have also

left a good impression on Officer

McLean; some of them are able to

communicate in English.

The Canadian soldier is one of

940 participants in the NATO Cooperative

Longbow/Lancer military

training and has been in Armenia

for the past month. Our conversation

is interrupted when her fellow

soldiers call her for a photograph

with the Canadian flag with the

Biblical Mount Ararat in the background.

The fascination with Ararat

is widespread, especially as today

the holy mountain has pushed

aside the clouds and has revealed

its wondrous peak. After the Canadians,

the Americans take pictures,

and then the Kazakhs, the Moldovans,

and so on.

Officer Maclean and the other

NATO soldiers are at the Armenian

Defense Ministry’s Vazgen Sarkissian

Military Institute, where the

opening ceremony of the Cooperative

Longbow/Lancer military trainings

took place on September 29.

Prior to the opening ceremony,

Lieutenant General John D. Gardner,

deputy commander, Land

Component Command Heidelberg

and Major General Arshaluis Paytyan,

deputy chief of the General

Staff of Military Forces of Armenia,

held a press conference. NATO’s

Armenia’s choices: Russia or NATO or both

Yerevan is able

to maintain

good relations

with Moscow,

Washington, and

Brussels

by Tatul Hakobyan

YEREVAN – One of the architects

of Armenia’s foreign policy of complementarity,

Vartan Oskanian,

used to insist that it was possible

for Yerevan to maintain good and

equal relations with Russia and the

Collective Security Treaty Organization

(CSTO) on the one hand and

the European Union and NATO on

the other. Mr. Oskanian also noted

that the principle of complementarity

is completely justified as long as

relations with Russia and the West

remain normal. When Georgia’s attack

on South Ossetia on August

8 turned into Russian aggression

against Georgia, the fragile balance

of Moscow/Washington/Brussels

was breached. Some specialists

even began talking about a return

of the Cold War.

Official Yerevan was able to maintain

good relations with Moscow

and the West. Concerns that Russia

could place its strategic partners,

Cooperative Longbow/Lancer

military trainings are conducted

annually and bring together NATO

members, Partnership for Peace

members as well as Mediterranean

Dialog Nations and Istanbul Initiative

Nations. “It is aimed at the

implementation of crisis response

processes within the framework of

the UN’s mandate, the main aim

of which is improving the cooperation

of NATO’s soldiers and those

of its partner countries in spheres

such as doctrine, procedures, command

headquarter systems and

terminology,” noted the American

general. He thanked the Armenian

side, headed by Defense Minister

Seyran Ohanian, Major General

Arshaluis Paytyan. and training cochair

Murad Isakhanian for their

efforts and the large-scale preparatory

works. Gen. Paytyan said

that such military trainings within

NATO’s partnership are being conducted

in Armenia for the second

time.

The current military trainings

will continue until October 20.

Gen. Gardner first of all noted that

such military trainings create the

opportunity to establish relations,

exchange experience and methods

of working and improve the

professionalism of all participating

Armed Forces. He emphasized

that 900 soldiers from seven NATO

member and 10 partner countries

are involved in the military training.

More than 360 soldiers and

officers from the Armenian Armed

Forces are also participating.

“The military trainings consist of

two phases: multination command

headquarters military trainings on

a brigade level and field trainings

on a battalion level. If we study the

staff of the posts, we can see the

multinational essence of the military

trainings. For example, the

Cooperative Longbow battalion

headquarters consists of officers

from the following countries: the

commander is from Switzerland,

head of headquarters and the intelligence

officer from Austria, the

including Armenia, before a difficult

choice by asking them to recognize

South Ossetia and Abkhazia

were not justified. President Serge

Sargsian explained to Moscow, in

a language that they could understand,

that Armenia could not recognize

those two entities – in the

same way that it did not recognize

Kosovo months earlier. Armenian

authorities made it clear that they

would not recognize them henceforth

because they had not yet recognized

Nagorno-Karabakh.

Official Yerevan has stated on

many occasions that it is realizing

a foreign policy of complementarity,

and deepening its relations

with Russia and CSTO on the one

hand, and the West and NATO on

the other is not contradictory. Will

Armenia be able to continue with

its adopted foreign policy of complementarity

of the past decade

In other words, will it be able to

continue to deepen relations with

the European Union and NATO

without causing discomfort for

Russia, a country which Armenia

depends upon strategically, politically,

and economically.

Arkady Dubnov, an analyst

with the Russian daily Vremya Novostey

told the Armenian Reporter

that following the five-day war, a

new agenda was formed which will

refer initially to the Caucasus. Mr.

Dubnov referred to Kazakhstan as

an example (Kazakhstan is one of

the seven members of CSTO, and

Soldiers at the opening ceremony of NATO exercises in Armenia. Photo: Armen

Hakobyan for the Armenian Reporter..

personnel officer from Armenia,

the military-civilian officer from

the U.S. and the communication

officer from Moldova. The second

part of the military trainings, the

Cooperative Lancer, is a field training

with the following battalion

and headquarter staff: Commander

Armenia, Head of Headquarters

– Austria, Chief Sergeant – USA, Action

Officer – Bosnia and Herzegovina

and rear guard officer – Greece.

The battalion will work with three

companies, one from Armenia and

the other two comprised of different

nations. This structure proves

the multinational character of the

event,” noted Lt General John D.

Gardner.

He clarified that during the field

trainings mostly light arms are going

to be used. Gen. Paytyan added

that transportation and sanitary

helicopters will also be used. Asked

whether the Roubezh-2008 exercises

recently organized within the

CSTO and Russia cooperation framework

and these military trainings

will not affect or damage the bilateral

cooperation, he said no. He

noted that both military trainings

had been planned in 2007 and were

implemented according to signed

contracts. In essence, according to

one of Russia’s closest allies), who

after the war in August began to

consider the expediency of transporting

Kazakh gas through the

Baku-Tiblis-Ceyhan pipeline, and

has also refused to build a gas refinery

and a grain terminal in Georgia.

According to the Russian analyst,

the Kazakhs are taking steps that

will not irritate Russia.

“I don’t think that Moscow has

similar expectations from Yerevan

because Armenia doesn’t participate

in any regional project which

is unacceptable to Russia. From

a geopolitical perspective, Russia

will continue to be Armenia’s principal

security guarantor as long

as Armenia remains surrounded

by enemies, at least on behalf of

one of its neighbors,” Mr. Dubnov

said.

In his opinion, the five-day war

in August demonstrated that Russia

is prepared to use force to protect

its interests, while the United

States is not prepared to confront

Russia, trying to avoid being

pulled into an extensive war. According

to Mr. Dubnov, Armenia

cannot ignore Russia’s position

in the Caucasus nor the existence

of a Russian military base in Gyumri.

“However all of this does not

mean that Yerevan is obligated to

become a vassal of Moscow and

under this pressure relinquish its

relations with the West and NATO

or slow down cooperation, with a

clear stipulation that Armenia does

not intend to become a member

of NATO in the future. I hope that

in the Kremlin they realize that

pressure against Armenia in the

end will have a boomerang effect

and can create anti-Russian sentiments,”

concluded Mr. Dubnov.

Aghavni Karakhanian, director

of the Yerevan-based Institute

for Civil Society and Regional Development

(ICSRD), believes that

Armenia must not change its foreign

policy. Ms. Karakhanian believes

that Armenia must not only

maintain its foreign policy of complementarity

but it must further

develop and supplement it.

“Today, our foreign policy of complementarity

has justified itself like

never before. It is possible to say

that it is the only reasonable choice,

and as a foreign policy principle its

accurateness has been proven. The

August crisis demonstrated that

to ‘hang on by a single branch,’ no

matter how strong it is, is not justified,”

Ms. Karakhanian told the

Armenian Reporter.

Asbed Kotchikian, a lecturer at

Bentley College told the Armenian

Reporter that the idea of complementary

foreign policy was appreciated

by pro-Russian circles as a euphemism

for lip service to the West

and a full-spectrum relationship

with Russia. Other circles, on the

other hand, regarded it as a positive

sign where Armenian diplomacy

had finally come up with an

the general’s evaluation, the effectiveness

of the military trainings

organized within the CSTO framework

was high and best results are

expected from this military training,

especially when “these military

trainings are aimed at the maintenance

of general peace.” Even

though during the planning stage

it was decided that Georgia would

participate in the ongoing military

trainings with one battalion, as

General Paytyan noted, “because of

obvious reasons, Georgia’s Armed

Forces are not participating. In the

preliminary phase it was decided

that Russia would participate, but

currently, naturally, it is not participating.

As far as the others are

concerned, including Turkey and

Azerbaijan, each of them decides

the level of its participation.”

In a speech at the opening ceremony,

Arthur Baghdasarian,

secretary of Armenia’s Security

Council, stressed Armenia’s complementary

approach to cooperating

with both NATO and the CSTO.

“These military trainings are a very

good example for successfully organizing

Armenia-NATO activities

and we are sure that cooperation

will continue. Only a month ago

the Rubezh-2008 military trainings

conducted within the CSTO

framework successfully concluded

in Armenia. I am sure that this

military training will also conclude

successfully.”

During his welcoming speech

to the participants of the military

training, Defense Minister Ohanian

noted in particular that it is

not a coincidence that the soldiers

of NATO’s Partnership for Peace

and Istanbul Initiative Nations,

17 member states and NATO’s different

structures despite their diversity

are preparing to jointly resolve

all problems put before them

during the training, as one team.

“From this point of view I can only

express regret that our neighbor

EAPC (Euro-Atlantic Partnership

Council) member states are not

participating for different reasons.

Unfortunately, this once again

proves that security is fragile in the

South Caucasus. I assure you that

peace and stability are absolute

values for the Republic of Armenia.

We regard this military training as

an important way of strengthening

trust in the region,” announced the

defense minister.

Noting that Armenia willingly

accepts any international military

training whether it be within the

frameworks of the Collective Security

Treaty Organization and Partnership

for Peace project, or the European

command headquarters of

the United States, and does its best

to conduct them professionally, Mr.

Ohanian said, “The hosting of the

military trainings has one aim only,

to raise our potential for practical

cooperation in peacekeeping as far

as possible, to develop their implementation

methods, to gain experience

and to pass it down to our

subdivisions participating in the

trainings. This aim is reconfirmed

by the Republic of Armenia, as a

full member of the international

community, by it willingness to

carry out its responsibilities, raise

its international image and credibility,

and to play its part in guaranteeing

international security.” f

elegant, flexible, noncontroversial

formula to get things moving toward

greater diversification of the

country’s policy choices, while at

the same time providing conservatives

some room to engage and

own stakes in the debate.

“While the concept of complementary

foreign policy was welcomed in

Armenian circles, the international

and regional community could not

make sense of it and sometimes

even criticized what they perceived

as Armenia’s attempts to play various

international powers against

each other. To say that Armenia’s

complementary foreign policy was

successful is wrong; perhaps a better

word would be it was tolerated

by both sides,” said Mr. Kotchikian.

Vicken Cheterian, who writes

about the Caucasus in many European

publications, reminds us

that in the post–Cold War reality,

after the collapse of the military

blocs, and the development of a

globalized economy, international

relations functions on the basis of

“complementarity.”

Armenia did not discover this

approach. But early on Armenian

foreign policy was wisely balancing

between different influences – Russia,

U.S., Iran, Europe, among others

and as a result profiting from

such an approach,” Mr. Cheterian

told the Armenian Reporter.

Continued on page 17 m


The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008 17

Armenia

Saralanj or Kirk Kerkorian highway opens

by Armen Hakobyan

YEREVAN – The Saralanj highway,

which took three years to construct

at a cost of about 6 billion drams

(approximately $20 million), is finally

a reality. The inauguration

ceremony of this impressive structure

took place on the morning of

September 29, with the participation

of Armenia’s present and former

presidents, Serge Sargsian

and Robert Kocharian.

The construction of the highway

was implemented through

the funds donated by American-Armenian

benefactor Kirk

Kerkorian’s Lincy Foundation.

The streets of Yerevan are heavily

congested and the Saralanj

highway is very important for the

city, as it connects the Center and

Arabkir communities, extending

to Vagharshian Street, which continues

on to the Davtashen Bridge,

without any traffic lights. The highway

begins with a 186 meter-long

tunnel on Miasnikian Avenue and

is six kilometers long. Along with

the construction of the Saralanj

highway, the Abovian-Miasnikian

traffic junction has also been constructed,

with 1.35 billion drams allocated

from the state budget.

During his speech at the opening

ceremonies, Yervand Zakharian,

the mayor of Yerevan said, “Modern,

quality road structures are

being put into operation, where

all requirements have been taken

into consideration: the parallel link

roads, local infrastructure, and the

regulations for long-term structures.

Today, projects which had

been designed during Soviet years,

most of which had been postponed

for years and had been planned for

a country with a strong state and

lively economy, are being implemented.”

It is worth noting that former

president Kocharian suggested

that in order to show appreciation

for Mr. Kerkorian’s contributions

over the years, they should

rename the Saralanj highway in his

name. The current president understandably

responded positively

to this suggestion. Mr. Sargsian

also noted that he highly values

all the construction works carried

out by the Lincy Foundation. “I

am thankful to Kirk Kerkorian and

the Lincy Foundation for financing

these works. I hope that Kirk Kerkorian

and the Lincy Foundation

will continue carrying out projects

in Armenia. I attach great importance

to projects involving the

construction of roads and schools

and the streets of Yerevan. It is not

right to separate or compare any of

them, as with the help of the school

construction projects our children

now study in educational establishments

that did not previously exist

in Armenia. Road construction

projects are also very important;

as life lines connecting the different

communities of the republic

were opened. In order to eliminate

traffic jams in the capital city and

make streets better for the citizens,

we had no choice but to undertake

the project of reconstructing them,

even though there were complaints

during the construction works.

Kirk Kerkorian’s work will be appreciated.”

Robert Kocharian feels

better without a tie

The participation of the former

president in the inauguration ceremony

of the Saralanj highway was

an opportunity to ask him personally

about his return to the political

arena, potentially as the prime

minister. “This is the principal topic

of rumors. I am still not bored with

the freedom I finally have. I must

also confess that during the past

six months this is only the second

time I am wearing a tie. The last

time was on May 28, when I participated

at the ceremony in Sardarabad.

For the time being I have no

desire to return to such a working

regime. Once I decide to do so, you

Civilitas Foundation opens in Yerevan

At the opening, President Sargsian with former president Kocharian (pointing)

and the mayor of Yerevan (left). Photo: Photolure.

will hear it directly from me and

not as a result of rumors. These rumors

hamper peoples’ work. It is

also clear why these rumors are circulated,”

said Mr. Kocharian.

Regarding the sentiment that argues

that in order to fix the domestic

political situation in the country

it is necessary to be rid of his heritage

as president, Mr. Kocharian

said, “It is impossible to get rid

of my heritage, because you would

first have to get rid of an established

Republic of Armenia, a renovated

Yerevan, a restored Gyumri,

the Northern Avenue, the road on

which we are currently standing,

and the civil service system, which

on the whole carries out its responsibilities

professionally. How

would we get rid of all this I do

not know. If we wanted to get rid

of it all, we would have to destroy

everything.”

f

by Tatul Hakobyan

YEREVAN – In one of the newly

constructed buildings on Northern

Avenue, the opening of the

Civilitas Foundation took place on

October 1. The founder of Civilitas

is former Foreign Minister Vartan

Oskanian and its director is Salpi

H. Ghazarian. In a press conference

on the day of the opening,

Mr. Oskanian said that the Latin

civilitas was not a name chosen

arbitrarily. It has many meanings

– citizen, civilization, civil society.

“In this name we see the responsibility

of citizens to society. This

will be our foundation’s principal

slogan,” Mr. Oskanian told reporters.

Civilitas, which is funded by individuals

and organizations, will

work in two principal directions

through its Council on Foreign

Relations and the Democracy and

Development Initiative.

The Council on Foreign Relations

will advocate peace and stability in

the Caucasus through multifaceted

dialogue and open discourse. It

Vartan Oskanian. Photo: Photolure.

Armenia’s choices,

Russia or NATO or both

n Continued from page 16

He recalled that during the early

90s, during the Karabakh war,

when Azerbaijan under President

Elchibey was pushing for “exclusivist”

policies which are reflections of

identity and not strategy, Armenia

profited by its military relations

with Moscow (and receiving arms

and ammunition), cooperation

with Washington which permitted

hundreds of millions in U.S. dollars

in aid, and commercial ties with

Iran which permitted the import of

much needed diesel and sugar.

“Today, more than in the early

days of independence, Armenia

needs to fine-tune its diplomatic

efforts to balance between powers

that have interests and influence

over the Caucasus, and especially

in a time of change as it is now after

the August war in Georgia,” concluded

Mr. Cheterian.

Armenia is deepening its cooperation

with NATO in several directions,

the most important of which

is the Individual Partnership Action

Plan (IPAP), which does not assume

membership in NATO. The second

direction is Armenia’s participation

in peacekeeping missions. Armenia

has peacekeeping missions

in Kosovo and Iraq and discussions

are underway about the possibility

of sending Armenian doctors to Afghanistan.

f

will offer a forum through which

to inform Armenia’s opinion and

policy making process as well as

the international academic, political,

and media communities about

Armenia’s foreign policy choices,

options, and actions, in the context

of Armenia’s national security challenges.

Through public and private

discussions as well as research and

publications, the council will promote

the Armenian perspective internationally

and domestically.

The Democracy and Development

Initiative will work in four main directions:

education, media, rural

development and environmental

awareness.

Civilitas’ Scholarship Program

will enable access to university education

in Armenia and abroad for

gifted and determined young people

in order to increase the knowledge

base, introduce national and

civic understanding, enhance

strategic thinking and managerial

skills, and nurture professionals

for a knowledge-based economy.

Selection will be need-based, and

will prefer those unlikely to find

alternative sources of support,

as well as those wishing to study




specific, strategically targeted subjects.

The Civilitas Media Program will

produce content for newspapers

and television, in Armenian and

English, for Armenia and the diaspora

to begin to eliminate a social,

political, economic and cultural information

gap.

The Civilitas Foundation will initiate,

execute, and back projects

that facilitate and support sustainable,

comprehensive and even

development in Armenia’s villages,

enabling villagers to live a selfreliant,

dignified life in Armenia’s

border areas.

The Civilitas Foundation will use

its own high-profile to work with

local and international organizations

to initiate new projects and




back existing ones which educate

the public and inform them on how

to reduce impact on the environment

and protect Armenia’s unique

flora and fauna. The foundation

will also focus on environmental

programs as a means to foster regional

cooperation.

The honorary board of the Civilitas

Foundation includes: Vartan Oskanian,

former Georgian Parliament

speaker Nino Gurjanadze, former

prime minister of Armenia Armen

Darbinyan, former Canadian foreign

minister Lloyd N. Axworthy,

Istanbul’s Bilgi University lecturer

Murat Belge, Israel’s former Minister

of Education Yossi Sarid, Ambassadors

Stephen W. Bosworth,

Peter R. Rosenblatt, and Jivan

Tabibian, and others. f


18 The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008

Editorial

Elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden

the armenian

reporter

Seldom do we face such a straightforward choice. As we compare the records of the candidates

for president and vice president of the United States, we find that, as U.S. citizens and as Armenian-Americans,

we have every reason to throw our strong support behind Senator Barack

Obama and Senator Joe Biden.

The Armenian-American agenda

On Armenian issues, the contrast between the records and commitments of the two pairs of

major-party candidates could not be more stark:

Senator Barack Obama has repeatedly made a clear and unequivocal commitment to recognize

the Armenian Genocide and work toward an equitable resolution of the Karabakh

conflict.

“As President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide,” he pledged in a January 19 statement

“On the Importance of U.S.-Armenia Relations.” On April 24, he reiterated his strong support

for the affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. “It is imperative that we recognize the horrific

acts carried out against the Armenian people as genocide,” he said in a statement submitted

into the Congressional Record.

In his January 19 statement, Senator Obama also pledged to support Armenia’s development

and supported a settlement of the Karabakh conflict “based upon America’s founding

commitment to the principles of democracy and self-determination.”

Senator Obama’s commitment is consistent with his actions in the Senate. As a member of

the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he asked the ambassador-designate of the United

States to Armenia what actions she would take to remember the victims of the Armenian

Genocide and how she would work with her counterpart in Ankara to decriminalize discussion

of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey.

Senator Joe Biden has a record of more than 35 years of consistent support of Armenian-

American issues. He has supported Armenian Genocide resolutions introduced in the Senate

since 1990.

On July 29, during a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he chairs,

Senator Biden noted, “Recognition by the United States of the Armenian Genocide is not the

final goal. The real goal is the recognition of Turkey – of the Turkish Government – of the

Armenian Genocide and the establishment of a common Turkish-Armenian understanding

of the events and tragedy that took place.”

This level of demonstrated commitment to Armenian-American issues is a rarity on the

presidential ticket.

What makes Senator Obama’s commitments in matters of interest to Armenian-Americans

particularly credible is the candor and confidence with which he has made those

commitments, further bolstered by Senator Biden’s consistent and long record as an

ally of our community. The more we as Armenian-Americans get involved in the Obama-

Biden campaign, support the campaign, develop relationships with campaign staff, and

help Senators Obama and Biden get elected, the stronger our position to follow up and

work with the administration to make sure these commitments are fulfilled in the best

possible way.

By contrast, just last October, Senator John McCain publicly opposed the Congressional

resolution acknowledging the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide. In 1999 he voted to lift

restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan over its blockade of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. In

1990 he opposed the Armenian Genocide resolution introduced by fellow Republican Senator

Bob Dole.

In 26 years in Congress, Senator McCain has either opposed or been indifferent to initiatives

supported by the Armenian-American community. He did introduce legislation in 1989

supporting a peaceful and fair settlement of the Karabakh conflict, and he initially supported

restrictions on U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan introduced in 1992; but he reversed that position

in 1999. He issued a letter to Armenian-Americans this week. But the letter gave no indication

that as president he would take a different approach to Armenian-American issues.

And his running mate has no record on Armenian-American issues.

A stronger America

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States attained such military and

economic superiority – and with it, influence over other countries – that many people believed

American power, if managed wisely, could remain unsurpassed for generations.

Strong as America was, however, it could never expect to sustain its leadership role through

brute force. The countries and peoples of the world expected to see in America a force for the

common good, one that would inspire friendship and loyalty. Everyone understood that the

United States had to pursue its own interests, but it was expected to define those interests in

a way that was inclusive, and could serve as an example and inspiration to others.

Thus, for example, President George W. Bush was able to invoke the leadership role of the

United States by speaking out in favor of democracy around the world. He championed the

creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which was established at his initiative and

from which Armenia is benefiting.

But a succession of actions and inactions over the last several years has served to discredit

American leadership and weaken the United States with direct and indirect consequences

for Armenia and the U.S.-Armenia relationship. Among these missteps is America’s timid

response to genocide, first in Rwanda and now in Darfur – and the support of the campaign

against recognition of the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide. Other missteps include

the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq, a sovereign state, on a trumped-up pretext;

unabashed support for waterboarding, sexual humiliation, and other forms of torture directly

and through “extraordinary rendition” – the handing over of suspects to foreign states that

have no compunctions about torture; and a refusal to cooperate with the rest of the world

in key matters, witness the refusal to join the Kyoto agreement on global warming and the

refusal to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

Armenian Reporter (ISSN 0004-2358), an independent newspaper,

is published weekly by Armenian Reporter llc.

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Editor Vincent Lima

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Art director Grigor Hakobyan

Layout assistant Nareh Balian

Meanwhile, U.S. relations with countries in and around the Caucasus, especially with

powerful states like Russia and Iran, have deteriorated, increasing regional instability. In any

regional conflict, Armenia suffers.

Time for change

Senator McCain has supported many of these failed policies, and has expressed his intention

to pursue a similar foreign policy. To his credit, he disagreed with the Bush administration on

the matter of torture, but he does not give us cause to believe that a McCain administration

would introduce significant changes in U.S. foreign (or economic) policy.

We do not expect Senator Obama to radically transform U.S. foreign policy. Like Senator

McCain, he has made it clear that in the Middle East, the United States would continue to be

a strong supporter of Israel. He has joined President Bush and Senator McCain in their condemnation

of Russia for its intervention in Georgia.

On the other hand, however, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, Mr. Obama opposed the invasion

of Iraq from the very start. No pacifist, he supported military action in Afghanistan in

the wake of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, and continues to support U.S. military

action there. But his early good judgment on Iraq speaks volumes. Further, he is outspoken

on the need for decisive intervention to prevent genocide.

Senator Obama is an advocate of alliance-building, cooperation with other nations, and

good-faith efforts at resolving conflicts through diplomacy and direct negotiations. An Obama

administration should help rebuild U.S. credibility and influence in world affairs.

Real and present danger

Coming back to the neighborhood that concerns us the most, we have a real fear that a President

McCain would be more inclined to assault Armenia’s southern neighbor, Iran. He had no

compunctions about publicly and callously singing a song about bombing Iran [http://www.

youtube.com/watchv=o-zoPgv_nYg]; moreover, it is consistent with the foreign policy approach

he advocates. Such a course of action could bring about numerous potential disasters,

including catastrophic consequences for Armenia.

Unable to move beyond the mentality of the Cold War, Senator McCain is promising to rush

along Georgia’s membership in NATO – and thereby potentially engage the United States in a

new and hot confrontation with Russia – a big risk with no clear benefit. Any regional military

action could easily spill over into Armenia, with potentially dire consequences. It is a result

we should fight to avoid. While Senator Obama is committed to approaching Russia from a

position of strength, he is also committed to diplomacy.

On November 4, we, the people of the United States, will elect a new president. We have

noted the stark contrast between the record and the commitments of the Obama-Biden ticket

on the one hand and the McCain-Palin ticket on the other.

For us, for Armenian-Americans, the choice is clear. Let us come together and work hard,

very hard, to elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden as president and vice president of the United

States.

f

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http://www.armeniansforobama.us

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The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008 19

Commentary

Gül’s visit to Armenia “more advantageous to Turkey”

Vartan Oskanian believes

the Genocide is “not

negotiable”

by Tatul Hakobyan

YEREVAN – On October 1, Vartan Oskanian,

who was Armenia’s foreign minister

from 1998 to 2008, gave a press conference

for the first time since leaving office. During

the briefing Mr. Oskanian said that Turkish

president Abdullah Gül’s visit to Yerevan

“elevated Turkey’s prestige ten times more

than Armenia’s, even though Armenia’s prestige

also benefited.” The veteran diplomat,

who during his ten-year tenure on many

occasions negotiated with his Turkish counterparts,

including Mr. Gül, said that it is

perhaps too soon to evaluate the steps being

taken with Turkey.

“For me there is one criterion of success,

and that is the opening of the border or at a

minimum, as a start, the start of the railroad.

If one of these two things do not materialize

in the coming months, I would say that

Turkey was able to manipulate in the best

possible way the possibilities given to it. And

if in the coming months the border is opened,

or the railroad begins operating, it will be

possible to say that Armenia’s president’s invitation

to Gül was the right decision,” said

Mr. Oskanian.

According to the former foreign minister,

Turkey has already gotten what it wanted

from Armenia: a statement that Armenia

has no territorial claims from Turkey; that

after the opening of the border, Armenia is

ready to discuss any issue with Turkey. However

Armenia has not yet received that which

is fundamental for Armenia and that is the

opening of the border.

With regard to Turkey’s possible role in

the resolution of the Karabakh conflict, Mr.

Oskanian insisted that Turkey has no place

at the negotiating table because the border

has not yet been opened; the railroad has

not begun operating; and in the Karabakh

issue, Turkey protects Azerbaijan’s interests.

In Mr. Oskanian’s opinion, Armenian diplomacy

must do everything possible so that it

not only blocks Turkey’s participation in the

resolution process, but also does not allow

for Turkey to leave that impression on the

international community.

“It is unacceptable to announce that if the

border is opened, and diplomatic relations

established, it is then possible to create

commissions and discuss any issue,” Mr. Oskanian

said in response to a question posed

by the Armenian Reporter. It has to be made

clear, he added, what exactly they mean when

they say “any issue” and the Turks must realize

that the Armenian side will never agree

to put the facts of 1915 into question. Mr.

Oskanian emphasized that “we have nothing

to concede to them; this is not only an issue

for Armenia’s authorities; this is not only an

issue for Armenians in Armenia. It is an issue

for all Armenians.”

In 2005 Prime Minister Receb Tayyip

Erdogan sent a letter to President Robert

Kocharian recommending the creation of

a joint historian’s commission to study the

events of 1915. However Armenia’s thenpresident

and Mr. Oskanian declined, stressing

that historians had long ago done their

job and there was no question that at the

beginning of the 20th century, genocide was

perpetrated against the Armenians. That refusal

was justified with the fact that if you

agree to the creation of a commission, then

you are unwittingly putting the reality of the

Armenian Genocide into question; and as

long as that commission exists, other countries

will avoid recognizing or condemning

Turkey, citing the ongoing nature of the work

of that very commission. Indeed, countries

that have already recognized the Genocide

will be confused and have a hard time understanding

Armenia’s position.

A slip of the tongue

On June 23 of this year, during a meeting

with the Armenian community in Moscow,

President Sargsian announced: “The Turkish

side is recommending the formation of

a commission, which will study historical

facts.

“We are not opposed to establishing such a

commission but only when the border between

our countries is opened. Otherwise, it

could be a means to protract the question for

years and exploit it.”

In Mr. Oskanian’s opinion, President Sargsian’s

announcement in Moscow was “a slip

of the tongue,” and he wants to believe that

is what it is. “No one has the moral right to

shed doubt on the fact of the 1915 Genocide,”

Mr. Oskanian said. “Turkey’s desire is

to start the process, and not the actual result

itself. That will be an eternal process. Everything

must be done to halt the process from

beginning.”

It is difficult to agree that Mr. Sargsian’s

statement in Moscow was a slip of the tongue.

First of all, the president was not responding

to an unexpected question; he was reading

from a prepared, written speech. Aside

from that, when meeting with the Armenian-

American community in New York on September

24, Mr. Sargsian said: “Days following

the meeting in Yerevan, Turkey’s foreign

minister announced that Turkey is ready to

come to terms with its past, to face the conclusions

of the presumed commission’s findings.

These are the words of a courageous

representative of the authorities. We have

to think, how we can help Turkish society

be more unbiased toward the pages of their

own history.”

It would be great if Armenia was so strong

as to help Turkey and its citizens to look

through the bloody pages of their history.

However desire is not a political or diplomatic

category. And the fact is that Europe, with

a population of 500 million, has not been

successful in forcing Turkey, a country that

wants to be part of the European Union, to

finally remove Article 301 from its criminal

code, which allows authorities to systematically

persecute all those who speak about the

Armenian Genocide.

President Abdulah Gul of Turkey with President Serge Sargsian of Armenia in Yerevan on September 6.

Photo: Photolure.

It’s not a bazaar.

The director of the ARF Bureau’s Central Hai

Tahd Office Giro Manoyan told the Armenian

Reporter that while Mr. Sargsian did not

directly express his agreement to the formation

of a historians’ commission, “the fact

remains that if Armenia agrees to the formation

of any commission of historians which

is to examine whether the ‘events’ do or do

not constitute genocide, it will be perceived

to shed doubt on the fact of the Genocide, no

matter how much the Armenian side insists

that it doesn’t consider the fact of Genocide

questionable.

“Turkey’s 2005 proposal for a bilateral commission

of historians had one goal, namely

to block the efforts for the international

recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Highranking

Turkish officials continue to state

that their aim for a historian’s commission

is to block the international recognition of

the Armenian Genocide. Armenia has no reason

to agree to such a commission neither

before, nor after the lifting of the blockade

by Turkey or the establishment of diplomatic

relations with Armenia.

“If Turkey sincerely wants to study its own

history of the Genocide period, it should first

of all lift all limitations on the free study of

the period; secondly, it should invite . . . genocide

experts and historians to help them in

their soul-searching, because Turkey is alone

against the whole world in denying the Genocide.

Historic facts can not be established like

prices are agreed upon in a bazaar. Today, for

Turkey, establishing normal relations with

Armenia is at least as necessary for Turkey

as it is for Armenia; so official Yerevan needs

only to stand firm on its ‘relations without

any preconditions’ position, thus uniting the

whole Armenian potential behind it and not

giving in to Turkish ultimatums.

“This is also true to all the preconditions

Turkey sets forth, including those related to

Artsakh and Armenian rights from Turkey.

Turkey’s aim is to capitulate Armenia and the

Armenian nation; official Yerevan should not

take any step in the wrong direction, which

would have irreversible negative effects.”

It would appear that among Armenia’s

ruling parties, it is only the ARF that is displeased

with Turkey’s policies. In reality

however, there are many that are displeased.

Stepan Safarian, the secretary of the

Heritage Party, the only opposition party in

parliament, believes that resolving Armenian-Turkish

relations and opening the border

must not contribute to the falsification of

truth and history, the distortion of historical

facts, and disregarding issues because these

do not have any connection to our national

and state interests.

“After Gül’s visit to Armenia, the amount

of news flowing from the Turkish media and

the subsequent posturing by official Ankara

bears witness to the fact that they weren’t

honest and aren’t honest about their motivation.

They are even trying to discredit Armenian

authorities and the Armenian president

in Armenian public opinion by stating that

he was naïve to invite Gül with a weak agenda

(that is to accept Turkey’s conditions to

open the border). They made it clear that the

Armenian side didn’t properly evaluate and

assess all possible scenarios during the meeting

and didn’t reach any tangible results,” Mr.

Safarian said.

To substantiate his statement, the member

of parliament and political analyst notes

that official Yerevan was more muted while

Ankara was utilizing every available forum to

proclaim its position on Armenian-Turkish

relations, which include its well-known anti-

Armenian, unproductive preconditions, the

opening of the border and the resolution of

the Karabakh conflict. “I believe that this has

to be a bitter lesson for Armenian authorities

to approach similar issues with more seriousness,”

he said.

Impartial mediators

During his speech at the UN General Assembly

on September 23, Mr. Gül unequivocally

characterized Mountainous Karabakh as an

occupied territory. If Turkey, while being one

of the 11 members of the OSCE Minsk Group

and today expressing the desire to mediate

in the resolution of the conflict, continues

to characterize Karabakh as occupied, then

what mediation are we talking about If Mr.

Gül had used the wording, “Karabakh’s adjacent

occupied territories” that would have

been more understandable because that is

how the international community coins it.

In the meantime, Mr. Gül and Turkey, which

continue to consider Karabakh as occupied

territories cannot act as mediators.

Words versus actions

Time will tell how Turkey will react to Armenia’s

good intentions. But those of us who

have been following Armenian-Turkish relations

for the past 15 years can attest to the

fact that Ankara never moves from words

to action, when it comes to its policies regarding

Armenia. Armenia’s first president.

Levon Ter-Petrossian, never placed the

Armenian Genocide issue on Armenia’s foreign

policy agenda; Turkey didn’t establish

diplomatic relations even then. Turkey didn’t

want to establish diplomatic relations at a

time when the issue of Kelbajar didn’t exist

and when Armenian forces were in battle on

a war forced upon them by Azerbaijan. At

that time there wasn’t a security buffer zone

around Karabakh; still, Turkey was absurdly

talking about preconditions.

Serge Sargsian finally spoke

about the Genocide

Armenia’s third president finally spoke about

the Armenian Genocide.

Armenia’s third president, like the first

president, is trying to separate history from

politics and diplomacy. And even though

Armenia’s current foreign minister Edward

Nalbandian, told this reporter months ago

that the Armenian Genocide was not off the

foreign-policy agenda of Armenia, there had

been no evidence of active pursuit of recognition.

Reviewing all of President Sargsian’s

speeches and interviews that can be found on

the presidential website, the word genocide is

conspicuously absent. These include his July

9 commentary in the Wall Street Journal, and

interviews with the Austrian Standard and

the Turkish Radikal daily. President Sargsian

talks about Armenian-Turkish relations and

does not in any way mention the Genocide.

Likewise, in setting out his foreign-policy

priorities in a meeting with Armenia’s diplomatic

corps on September 3, the president

made no mention of the Genocide.

But that changed on September 28. Speaking

to the United Nations General Assembly,

Mr. Sargsian said. “This year we will be

celebrating two significant international

law achievements: the 60th anniversary of

the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

and 60th Anniversary of the Convention on

Genocide Prevention. For us, the Armenians,

as a people who survived the Genocide, these

anniversaries are more than just important.

Armenia has been and will be doing every

possible thing at the UN to provide for a continuous

advocacy of the Genocide Convention

and its enforcement. Genocide can not

be worrying just one nation, Genocide is a

crime against humanity.”

President Kocharian had placed the Genocide

on Armenia’s foreign policy agenda in

1998 during his speech at the UN’s General

Assembly. Mr. Sargsian also mentioned the

Armenian Genocide at the opening of the

General Assembly.

f


20 The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008


The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008


The Armenian Reporter | October 4, 2008

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