National, International, Armenia, and Community News and Opinion

National, International, Armenia, and Community News and Opinion


capitals are

now open

to visitors

See story on

page 16 m

The ten

classes of


See story on page 10 m

Two works by


may fetch over


See story on page C6 m

Eastern U.S. Edition

Number 109

April 11, 2009

the armenian


President Obama meets with, from left, Armenian foreign minister Edward Nalbandian, Swiss foreign minister (and mediator) Micheline Calmy-Rey, Turkish undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry Ertugul

Apakan and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan at a reception in Istanbul on April 6. The president met with the foreign ministers to commend them on “recent progress” toward the normalization of Armenia-Turkey

relations and urged them to complete a bilateral agreement. White House photo: Pete Souza.

Obama, in Turkey, raises

Armenian issues

Avoiding the word genocide the president plays up

Armenia-Turkey talks

Visit us at

See story on page 1 m

The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009

Number 109

April 11, 2009

the armenian


The ten classes of Armenian


The ancient capitals of Yervandashat and Bagaran

The residents of Bagaran wake up every

morning to the voices of the muezzin

from the neighboring village of

Halimjan. The call for prayers at the

crack of dawn has been part of the

lives of the residents of Bagaran for

decades. The two villages are on two

sides of the Akhuryan river, which

separates Armenia and Turkey.




The two ancient cities of Yervandashat

and Bagaran, closed off for

centuries because of their strategic

position, are now open to visitors

who can see ancient archaeological

sites dispersed throughout the region,

Tatul Hakobyan reports.

See story on page 16m

Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan completed

At the annual fund-raising event

of Sipan Armenian School, Louisa

Janbazian, president of the school

board, announced that the school

received an Honorary Award from

Spartak Seyranyan, the minister of

science and education of Armenia,


In five years, Armenia, Iran to be connected by rail


High ranking officials from Armenia

and Iran are giving assurances

that in five years’ time there will

be a railroad linking the two countries.

According to preliminary calculations,

the railroad will stretch

for approximately 470 kilometers,

with 410 of those on Armenian

territory. The total cost of this undertaking

is expected to run about

$1.2 billion.

An agreement will be signed by

Armenia and Iran sometime this

month when President Serge Sargsian

is expected to be in Tehran for

an official visit.

See story on page 17m

On the evening of April 2, the Armenian

Bone Marrow Donor Registry

(ABMDR) held a cocktail reception

in Glendale, California, to

celebrate the upcoming opening

of its Stem Cell Harvesting Center

in Yerevan. The event served as

an opportunity to announce formally

the much-anticipated launch

of the Stem Cell Harvesting Center,

inform guests of current and

future ABMDR projects, and thank

supporters for helping save lives

through the registry.

See story on page 5m

Sustainable-forestry training program prepared

Armenia Tree Project (ATP) recently

completed a two-year project to

develop sustainable forestry training

models for Armenia. Through

a collaborative effort with Yale

University’s Global Institute of

Sustainable Forestry, ATP worked

with Chadwick Oliver and Zachary

Parisa to conduct an analysis of the

forests around the village of Margahovit.

See story on page 4m

Not everyone is delighted to

be there, and there are some you

cannot keep away, Gregory Lima

writes of the St. Gregory Armenian

School in White Plains, N.Y.

As they grow older some can rebel

against their parents’ insistence

they attend class. Asking one such

very young lady what she would

rather do, she answered, “Sleep,”

which she seemed to manage exactly

where she was. Until it was

time to dance. Then the sleepy

girl turned into a dynamo. There

was also the boy who had finished

all the grades and still came back.

He was drawn by the pleasure of

speaking Armenian, the cultural

activities, and the friends he had


See story on page 10m

Sipan Armenian School honored by Armenia’s

Ministry of Education

for its legacy of educating and nurturing

the young Armenian generation

with the Armenian spirit,

and for the 30th anniversary of its


See story on page 6m

President Obama, in Turkey,

raises Armenian issues

Avoids the word


Asks Turkey to open

Armenia border

by Emil Sanamyan

WASHINGTON – In a first for a U.S.

president, Barack Obama used his

visit to Ankara to publicly speak of

the need for Turkey to address its

past and improve its present relations

with Armenia.

But citing reports of an impending

breakthrough in talks between

Armenia and Turkey, Mr. Obama

effectively sidestepped his pre-election

promise to clearly recognize

the destruction of Ottoman Armenians

as genocide. Mr. Obama also

encouraged Turkish and Armenian

officials “to complete an agreement”

in an expeditious manner.

Armenian agenda

without the G word

In his April 6 speech at Turkey’s

Grand National Assembly and in a

joint press conference with Turkish

president Abdullah Gül earlier

the same day, Mr. Obama became

the first U.S. president to publicly

air some Armenian-American concerns

on a visit to Turkey. (See

transcripts below.)

Addressing the parliament, Mr.

Obama recalled America’s own

treatment of Native Americans and

Serge Sargsian hopes to go to Turkey

in October through open borders

by Tatul Hakobyan

YEREVAN – Armenia’s President

Serge Sargsian stated on April 11

that in terms of Armenia-Turkey

relations, the ball is now in Turkey’s

court. He is also hopeful that

Turkey will open the border with

Armenia by October.

On the occasion of the first anniversary

of his presidency, Mr.

Sargsian held a press conference

on April 11. Asked by the Armenian

Reporter about the “red lines” the

Armenian side would not cross in

Turkish-Armenian relations, Mr.

Sargsian said that Yerevan considers

unacceptable the imposition, by

Turkey, of preconditions for the establishment

of relations.

“We have said, and I repeat, we are

ready to establish relations without

preconditions. Now, in my opinion,

the ball is in Turkey’s court,” the

president said.

“If we are talking about soccer diplomacy,”

the president continued,

“then we must state that the ball

cannot constantly be on one side of

the field, and each soccer match has

a predetermined time frame.” The

current round of talks with Turkey

are spoken of as soccer diplomacy

because Mr. Sargsian invited his

Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gül,

President Obama meets with, from left, Armenian foreign minister Edward

Nalbandian, Swiss foreign minister (and mediator) Micheline Calmy-Rey, Turkish

undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry Ertugul Apakan and Foreign Minister Ali

Babacan at a reception in Istanbul on April 6. The president met with the foreign

ministers to commend them on “recent progress” toward the normalization of

Armenia-Turkey relations and urged them to complete a bilateral agreement.

White House photo: Pete Souza.

Blacks, and urged Turks to address

the “terrible events of 1915” in a

way that is “honest, open, and constructive.”

Extolling the benefits of

opening the border with Armenia

which was closed and is kept closed

by Turkey – he said the United

States “strongly supports normalization

of relations between Turkey

and Armenia.” He also invited Turkey

to play a “constructive role” in

the Karabakh peace process.

At the press conference, the subject

was formally prompted by Chicago

Tribune and Los Angeles Times

correspondent Christi Parsons,

who referred to Mr. Obama’s comments

on the Armenian Genocide

as a senator and his pre-election

pledges to recognize the Genocide

as president. Ms. Parsons asked

whether the president still held the

same views and whether he asked

Mr. Gül to recognize the Genocide.

Mr. Obama responded that he

had not changed his views, which

are “on the record.” But he then

turned to the subject of talks between

Armenia and Turkey that

could “bear fruit very quickly very

soon” and which, he said, he did

not want to “tilt” in favor of either

side, presumably by speaking more


Continued on page m

President Serge

Sargsian. Photo:


to Yerevan to watch the September

2008 Armenia-Turkey World Cup

qualifying soccer match.

“Is it possible that we have perhaps

miscalculated and the Turks

have now adopted another position

and are attempting to place

a precondition on the table Of

course, this is possible,” he said.

“But I believe, even in that case, we

will come out of the process much

stronger. Through this process

we were able to once again demonstrate,

as was witnessed by the

international community, that we

are really prepared to establish relations

without preconditions.”

The next Armenia-Turkey World

Cup qualifying match will be held in

October in Kayseri, Mr. Gül’s birthplace.

Mr. Sargsian has accepted an

invitation from Mr. Gül to attend.

“During the negotiation process,

the question of Nagorno-Karabakh

or the Genocide has never been

brought up,” the president said, referring

to two pre-conditions long

set by Turkey for the normalization

of relations. He predicted that

at the next soccer match, “I will either

cross through open borders or

we will be at that threshold.” f

The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009


Washington briefing

by Emil Sanamyan

Obama visits Turkey,

calls Azerbaijan

President Barack Obama visited

Turkey on April 6–7 in an effort

to rebuild a troubled alliance and

reach out to the Muslim world. The

White House reported that on April

7, Mr. Obama also placed a call to

the president of Azerbaijan.

President Obama prepares to enter

Istanbul's Blue Mosque on April 7.

Addressing the Turkish parliament,

the U.S. president said he was

“committed to renewing the alliance”

that has come under strain as U.S.

and Turkish policies on Iraq, Iran,

and the Middle East conflict drifted

further apart in recent years.

Mr. Obama said his visit was evidence

of the importance he placed on

U.S.-Turkish relations, although no

formal agreements were announced

during the trip. From the first days

of his administration, Mr. Obama

said he wanted to reach out to the

Islamic world and was expected to

visit a majority-Muslim country in

the first months of his presidency.

In January, Turkey invited Mr.

Obama to attend a United Nations

conference dubbed the Alliance of

Civilizations, held in Istanbul. The

invitation led to an official visit to

Turkey at the end of Mr. Obama’s

tour of Europe.

Speaking in parliament, Mr.

Obama praised Turkey’s founder

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and

the Turkish political system, while

also noting that there are disagreements

and outstanding issues such

as the history of Armenian-Turkish


The latter subject also featured in

a “good conversation” Mr. Obama

had with Azerbaijani president Ilham

Aliyev, in which the “U.S commitment

to a strong relationship

with Azerbaijan and to supporting

progress toward a resolution of the

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” were


According to Hurriyet newspaper,

upset with reports of progress in

Armenia-Turkey talks, Mr. Aliyev refused

to attend the Alliance of Civilizations

meeting even after being telephoned

by Secretary of State Hillary

Clinton, who reportedly promised a

meeting with Mr. Obama.

Instead, Mr. Aliyev dispatched

his daughter Leyla Aliyeva. Ms.

Aliyeva serves as the Moscow representative

for the Heydar Aliyev

Foundation headed by her mother

Mehriban Aliyeva.

State Department

nominee held up over

Armenian Genocide


Left out of President Obama’s trip

to Turkey was his pick for assistant

secretary of state for Europe and

Eurasia, Philip Gordon. According

to Foreign Policy magazine, Mr.

Gordon planned to depart after confirmation

by the Senate on April 3,

but his nomination was held up at

the last moment.

In a statement issued on the

same day, the Armenian National

Committee of America (ANCA) welcomed

the “delay as a meaningful

opportunity for senators to weigh

the merits of approving a nominee

with a record of arguing against

[U.S.] recognition of the Armenian

genocide.” (See this page in the

March 14 Armenian Reporter for

some of Mr. Gordon’s past comments

on the subject.)

During a March 27 Senate Foreign

Relations Committee hearing

on Mr. Gordon’s nomination,

his views were scrutinized by Sen.

Robert Menendez (D.-N.J.), who

had previously blocked a Bush administration

nominee for ambassador

to Armenia over his comments

on the Genocide.

Silva Harotonian.

But according to Foreign Policy,

Mr. Menendez eventually decided

not to block Mr. Gordon‘s candidacy

and abstained in the committee


On April 8, the Armenian Assembly

of America reported that it was

Sen. John Ensign (R.-Nev.) who

requested the postponement of Mr.

Gordon’s confirmation. In 2007 Mr.

Ensign was the main Republican cosponsor

of a Senate resolution on

Armenian Genocide.

The Senate is expected to return

to consideration of the nominee after

its Easter recess.

Georgian opposition posters. Photo:

U.S. joins talks with

Iran, requests release of


In a departure from Bush administration

policy, the State Department

said on April 8 that the United

States will formally join other

permanent members of the United

Nations Security Council and Germany

in their ongoing talks with

Iran regarding its nuclear program.

Barack Obama advocated direct

talks with Iran during his presidential

campaign. Under George W.

Bush, the United States insisted

that Iran first halt nuclear fuel

enrichment as a condition for U.S.

participation in the talks.

Incidentally, on April 9 the New

York Times reported that Iran had

announced just days earlier making

advances in its ability to enrich


On March 31 U.S. and Iranian officials

met briefly during a United

Nations conference on Afghanistan

held in the Netherlands. At

that meeting, Iranian officials

were handed a letter from Secretary

of State Hillary Clinton

requesting the release of four U.S.

citizens held in Iran on what are

believed to be politically motivated


On April 6, the State Department

additionally urged Iran to

release 34-year-old Silva Harotonian,

an Iranian-Armenian employee

of the U.S.-funded International

Research and Exchanges

Board (IREX) imprisoned in Iran

since last June.

The State Department’s acting

President Obama, in Turkey, raises Armenian issues

spokesperson Robert Wood said

that charges against Ms. Harotonian

– of plotting against the

Iranian government on behalf of

the United States – were “baseless”

and that “she is reportedly in

poor and deteriorating health as a

direct consequence of her confinement.”

Ms. Harotonian’s case, first made

public last January, was covered by

the Los Angeles Times on April 2

and ABC News on April 7. (See also

the Reporter’s Feb. 28 edition.)

Georgian opposition

launches campaign for

president’s ouster

Political opponents of Georgian

leader Mikheil Saakashvili began

on April 9 what they promise will

be continuing protests aimed at

toppling the president, whom they

blame for authoritarianism and

last year’s defeat in the war with


The opposition includes a number

of past allies of Mr. Saakashvili’s,

including former parliament

Speaker Nino Bourjanadze and

former Ambassador to the United

Nations Irakli Alasania, the two

figures seen as frontrunners in a

potential early election.

In a manifesto released before

the campaign’s launch, the opposition

pledged to guarantee Mr. Saakashvili’s

personal security should

he resign voluntarily. Mr. Saakashvili

in turn offered dialogue to the

opposition, but insists he will stay

in office until his second term of

office expires in 2013.


n Continued from page

In his follow-up, Mr. Gül outlined

some of the points of the official

Turkish position, denying the Armenian

Genocide, and seeking to shift

it from the realm of law and politics

to the realm of academic history.

The Turkish president did not

sound as upbeat as Mr. Obama

about the prospect of a breakthrough

in talks with Armenia,

noting only that he “would like to

see a good resolution of these discussions,”

and adding, “we have a

lot of work” to do, including resolving

“issues between Armenia and


Talks with Armenia:

PR campaign or real


Turkish officials and their supporters

have offered contradictory opinions

on the status of talks with Armenia

and whether they might be nearing

some kind of a turning point.

On the eve of Mr. Obama’s visit, a

media blitz sought to play up progress

in talks. Leaks by anonymous,

but presumably Turkish and some

U.S. officials to the Wall Street Journal

even suggested April 16 as a day

when an Armenian-Turkish agreement

could be signed. The story was

picked up by the Washington Times,

Financial Times, and others.

Members of the congressional

Turkey caucus spun the same story

line, urging Mr. Obama to encourage

Armenian and Turkish leaders

to reach an agreement.

But speaking in London on April

3, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip

Erdogan said Turkey would not

concede that the Ottoman treatment

of Armenians was genocide

and again linked the establishment

of relations with Armenia to the

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The

next day Mr. Gül dismissed the

Wall Street Journal report of the

April 16 date as “false.”

In a comment for the media late

Sunday night, Armenia’s Foreign

Minister Edward Nalbandian

stressed that there is a “mutual

understanding” between Armenia

and Turkey that normalization

can have no preconditions, that

there would be no linkages to the

Genocide or Karabakh, and that

statements to the contrary “may

be regarded as an attempt to impede

the progress reached in the


Mr. Nalbandian then postponed

by 24 hours his departure for Istanbul,

where he was to attend the

Alliance of Civilizations meeting.

Upon arrival in the evening of April

6, he had a brief conversation with

Mr. Obama and then a four-way

meeting that included the foreign

ministers of Turkey and Switzerland,

which has recently hosted

talks between Armenian and Turkish


An unnamed but senior U.S. official

told Reuters that Mr. Obama

“urged [Armenian and Turkish ministers]

to complete an agreement

with dispatch.”

In the meantime, the Azerbaijani

leadership expressed public distress

over Armenian-Turkish talks

and President Ilham Aliyev refused

to attend the Istanbul conference

– even after being promised a

meeting with Mr. Obama, Turkish

media reported.

On April 7, Turkish foreign minister

Ali Babacan again spoke of

progress made in talks, but a report

carried by the Anatolia news

agency referred to no timeline. In a

comment that could be seen as directed

to the United States, Mr. Babacan

suggested that “third countries

should act sensitively during

this ongoing process.”

Mixed community


Adding to the week’s confusion

were the substantially different

interpretations of Mr. Obama’s remarks

offered by Armenian-American

advocacy groups.

Aram Hamparian of the Armenian

National Committee of

America (ANCA) said in a statement,

“President Obama missed

a valuable opportunity to honor

his public pledge to recognize the

Armenian Genocide.” At the same

time, he welcomed as “a step in the

right direction” Mr. Obama’s “willingness

to raise his commitment to

recognizing the Armenian Genocide,

even indirectly.”

In a comment for the Armenian

Reporter, Ross Vartian of the U.S.-

Armenia Public Affairs Committee

(USAPAC) said, “President Obama

made it clear that his well-known

views on the Armenian Genocide

have not changed and that Turkey

needed to face its history. Yet he

could have and should have said

the words ‘Armenian Genocide’ at a

time and place perfect for doing so.”

“President Obama stands by his

pledge regarding affirmation of the

Armenian genocide,” ran the headline

of the Armenian Assembly of

America statement released to the

media. Unlike the ANCA, the Assembly

offered no criticism, pointing instead

to Mr. Obama’s comment that

he hasn’t changed his view.

The Assembly’s Bryan Ardouny

noted, “For the first time, a U.S.

President has delivered a direct

message to Turkish officials in their

own country that he stands behind

his steadfast support and strong

record of affirmation of the Armenian


The Assembly statement sidestepped

the fact that Mr. Obama

chose to sidestep the word genocide.

Incidentally, on April 6 the Hawaii

State House of Representatives

passed a measure condemning the

Armenian Genocide. Mr. Obama’s

home state became the 42nd U.S.

state to recognize the Genocide. f

The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009


Telling the truth about the Armenian Genocide

We must resist

Turkish pressure to

distort history.

by Christopher Hitchens

This article is reprinted with permission

from, where it was

posted on April 6.

Even before President Barack

Obama set off on his visit to Turkey

this week, there were the usual

voices urging him to dilute the

principled position that he has so

far taken on the Armenian Genocide.

April is the month in which

the Armenian diaspora commemorates

the bloody initiation, in 1915,

of the Ottoman Empire’s campaign

to erase its Armenian population.

The marking of the occasion takes

two forms: Armenian Remembrance

Day, on April 24, and the annual

attempt to persuade Congress

to name that day as one that abandons

weasel wording and officially

calls the episode by its right name,

which is the word I used above.

Genocide had not been coined in

1915, but the U.S. ambassador in

Constantinople, Henry Morgenthau,

employed a term that was

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for

Vanity Fair and the Roger S. Mertz media

fellow at the Hoover Institution in

Stanford, Calif.

in some ways more graphic. In his

urgent reports to the State Department,

conveying on-the-spot dispatches

from his consuls, especially

in the provinces of Van and Harput,

he described the systematic slaughter

of the Armenians as “race murder.”

A vast archive of evidence exists

to support this claim. But every

year, the deniers and euphemists

set to work again, and there are

usually enough military-industrial

votes to tip the scale in favor of our

Turkish client. (Of late, Turkey’s

opportunist military alliance with

Israel has also been good for a few

shame-faced Jewish votes as well.)

Obama’s unambivalent


President Obama comes to this issue

with an unusually clear and unambivalent

record. In 2006, for example,

the U.S. ambassador to Armenia,

John Evans, was recalled

for employing the word genocide.

Then-Sen. Obama wrote a letter

of complaint to then-Secretary of

State Condoleezza Rice, deploring

the State Department’s cowardice

and roundly stating that the

occurrence of the Armenian genocide

in 1915 “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.”

On the campaign trail last year, he

amplified this position, saying that

“America deserves a leader who

speaks truthfully about the Armenian

genocide and responds forcefully

to all genocides. I intend to be

that president.”

For any who might entertain

doubt on this score, I would recommend

two recent books of exceptional

interest and scholarship

that both add a good deal of depth

and texture to this drama. The first

is Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of

the Armenian Genocide, by Grigoris

Balakian, and the second is Rebel

Land: Travels Among Turkey’s Forgotten

Peoples, a contemporary account

by Christopher de Bellaigue.

Shattering evidence

In addition, we have just learned of

shattering corroborative evidence

from within the archives of the

Turkish state. The Ottoman politician

who began the campaign of deportation

and extermination, Talat

Pasha, left enormous documentation

behind him. His family has

now given the papers to a Turkish

author named Murat Bardakci,

who has published a book with the

somewhat dry title, The Remaining

Documents of Talat Pasha. One

of these “remaining documents”

is a cold estimate that during the

years 1915 and 1916 alone, a total

of 972,000 Armenians simply vanished

from the officially kept records

of population. (See Sabrina

Tavernise’s report in the New York

Times of March 8, 2009.)

There are those who try to say that

the Armenian catastrophe was a regrettable

byproduct of the fog of war

and of imperial collapse, and this

might be partly true of the many

more Armenians who were slaughtered

at the war’s end and after the

implosion of Ottomanism. But this

is an archive maintained by the government

of the day and its chief anti-

Armenian politician, and it records

in the very early days of World War I

a population decline from 1,256,000

to 284,157. It is very seldom that a

regime in its private correspondence

confirms almost to an exactitude the

claims of its victims.

Ankara’s unchecked


So what will the deniers say now

The usual routine has been to insinuate

that if Congress votes to assert

the historic truth, then Turkey will

inconvenience the NATO alliance by

making trouble on the Iraqi border,

denying the use of bases to the U.S.

Air Force, or in other unspecified

ways. This same kind of unchecked

arrogance was on view at the NATO

summit last weekend, where the

Ankara government had the nerve

to try to hold up the appointment

of a serious Danish politician,

Anders Rasmussen, as the next

secretary-general of the alliance,

on the grounds that as Denmark’s

prime minister he had refused

to censor Danish newspapers to

Muslim satisfaction! It is now being

hinted that if either President

Obama or the Congress goes ahead

with the endorsement of the genocide

resolution, Turkey will prove

uncooperative on a range of issues,

including the normalization of the

frontier between Turkey and Armenia

and the transit of oil and gas

pipelines across the Caucasus.

A matter of courage

When the question is phrased in

this thuggish way, it can be slyly

suggested that Armenia’s own best

interests are served by joining in the

agreement to muddy and distort

its own history. Yet how could any

state, or any people, agree to abolish

their pride and dignity in this

way And the question is not only

for Armenians, who are economically

hard-pressed by the Turkish

closure of the common border. It is

for the Turks, whose bravest cultural

spokesmen and writers take genuine

risks to break the taboo on discussion

of the Armenian question.

And it is also for Americans, who,

having elected a supposedly brave

new president, are being told that

he – and our Congress too – must

agree to collude in a gigantic historical

lie. A lie, furthermore, that

courageous U.S. diplomacy helped

to expose in the first place.

This falsification has already

gone on long enough and has been

justified for reasons of state. It is,

among other things, precisely “for

reasons of state,” in other words for

the clear and vital announcement

that we can’t be bought or intimidated,

that April 24, 2009, should

become remembered as the date

when we affirmed the truth and accepted,

as truth-telling does, all the



Obama: Reckoning with the past can help us seize a better future

In a speech to the Turkish parliament

in Ankara on April 6, President

Barack Obama addressed Turkey’s

reckoning with the Armenian Genocide

and its relations with Armenia.

The following is an excerpt from the

president’s remarks.

Another issue that confronts all

democracies as they move to the

future is how we deal with the past.

The United States is still working

through some of our own darker

periods in our history. Facing the

Washington Monument that I

spoke of is a memorial of Abraham

Lincoln, the man who freed

those who were enslaved even after

Washington led our Revolution.

Our country still struggles with

the legacies of slavery and segregation,

the past treatment of Native


Human endeavor is by its nature

imperfect. History is often

tragic, but unresolved, it can be

a heavy weight. Each country

must work through its past. And

reckoning with the past can help

us seize a better future. I know

there’s strong views in this chamber

about the terrible events of

1915. And while there’s been a

good deal of commentary about

my views, it’s really about how

the Turkish and Armenian people

deal with the past. And the

best way forward for the Turkish

and Armenian people is a process

that works through the past in

a way that is honest, open and


We’ve already seen historic and

courageous steps taken by Turkish

and Armenian leaders. These

contacts hold out the promise of

a new day. An open border would

return the Turkish and Armenian

people to a peaceful and prosperous

coexistence that would serve

both of your nations. So I want

you to know that the United States

strongly supports the full normalization

of relations between Turkey

and Armenia. It is a cause worth

working towards.

It speaks to Turkey’s leadership

that you are poised to be the only

country in the region to have normal

and peaceful relations with all

the South Caucasus nations. And

to advance that peace, you can

play a constructive role in helping

to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh

conflict, which has continued for

far too long.


Obama: I have not

changed views

During a joint press availability on

April 6 at Cankaya Palace in Ankara,

Turkey, President Barack Obama

and his Turkish counterpart and

host Abdullah Gül took two questions.

The first question was posed

by Christi Parsons. Mr. Obama’s

exchange with Ms. Parsons is reproduced

below. Mr. Gül also responded

to the question, offering a full-throated

denial of the Armenian Genocide.

President Obama: Christi Parsons,

Chicago Tribune – hometown

– hometown newspaper.

Christi Parsons: Thank you,

Mr. President. As a U.S. senator

you stood with the Armenian-

American community in calling for

Turkey’s acknowledgement of the

Armenian Genocide and you also

supported the passage of the Armenian

Genocide resolution. You

said, as president you would recognize

the Genocide. And my question

for you is, have you changed

your view, and did you ask President

Gül to recognize the Genocide

by name

President Obama: Well, my

views are on the record and I

have not changed views. What I

have been very encouraged by is

news that under President Gül’s

leadership, you are seeing a series

of negotiations, a process,

in place between Armenia and

Turkey to resolve a whole host

of longstanding issues, including

this one.

I want to be as encouraging as

possible around those negotiations

which are moving forward

and could bear fruit very quickly

very soon. And so as a consequence,

what I want to do is not

focus on my views right now but

focus on the views of the Turkish

and the Armenian people. If they

can move forward and deal with a

difficult and tragic history, then I

think the entire world should encourage


And so what I told the president

was I want to be as constructive

as possible in moving these issues

forward quickly. And my sense is,

is that they are moving quickly.

I don’t want to, as the president

of the United States, preempt

any possible arrangements or announcements

that might be made

in the near future. I just want

to say that we are going to be a

partner in working through these

issues in such a way that the most

important parties, the Turks and

the Armenians, are finally coming

to terms in a constructive way.

Christi Parsons: So if I understand

you correctly, your view

hasn’t changed, but you’ll put in

abeyance the issue of whether to

use that word in the future

President Obama: What I’d

like to do is to encourage President

Gül to move forward with

what have been some very fruitful

negotiations. And I’m not

interested in the United States

in any way tilting these negotiations

one way or another while

they are having useful discussions.

Christi Parsons: Thank you. f

4 The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009


Jennifer Omartian to direct agbu Camp Nubar

Reveals plans for

summer 2009

NEW YORK – agbu Camp Nubar

has announced that Jennifer

Omartian will serve as the 2009

Camp Director. Jennifer first came

to Camp Nubar, located in the

Catskill Mountain Region of New

York, in 1993 and she has returned

yearly ever since. She began as a

counselor for several years before

going on to serve as Activities Director,

Girls Head Counselor, and

Assistant Director. No other director

in the 46-year history of Camp

Nubar has spent more time at the

Catskill camp than Ms. Omartian,

which is a clear indication of her

passion for the facility by idyllic

Lake Arax.The new Camp Director

grew up in Longmeadow, Massachusetts,

where she attended

St. Mark Church in neighboring

agbu Camp Nubar Director Jennifer


Springfield, MA. She graduated

from James Madison University

where she received her master’s

degree in Middle School Education.

Ms. Omartian now resides in Virginia

and attends St. Mary Church

in Washington, D.C.

agbu: What are your goals and

hopes for the summer

Jennifer Omartian: Preparation

is crucial for a safe and fun season.

I will ensure that counselors

are prepared, qualified, and ready

for another successful summer.

I hope to see campers and counselors

work alongside one another,

to grow as individuals and into one

family. Campers learn from their

counselors, but counselors learn

from their campers as well. Every

session has a unique blend of people

from different places. I look forward

to seeing how each session will create

its own set of memories using

the same resources and facilities.

agbu: What are your favorite aspects

of camp and do you have any

favorite memories

JO: I love the anticipation that

surrounds camp. Throughout the

year, campers and counselors anticipate

the following summer, the

friends they will be reunited with,

the bonds they will form and the

memories they will make. When

camp begins, the campers and

counselors anxiously wait for their

favorite camp event, whether it is

an evening activity, a carnival, or

Color War. Throughout their camp

careers, campers count down the

summers until they finally become

a counselor.

I also love seeing the camp family

within the greater Armenian community.

It is such a wonderful feeling

to walk into church, a basketball

game, or a picnic and see campers

and counselors so eager to see each

other and talk about camp.

My favorite camp memory was

watching my very first group of G1

campers mature every summer and

then serve as counselors.

agbu: What is your current occupation

and what do you enjoy

about it

JO: I teach sixth-grade social

studies in Fairfax County, Virginia.

I love the diversity at my school

and the many challenges that it

presents on a daily basis. I teach

students from all over the world

and it amazes me how they blend

together and learn from each other

while maintaining pride in their

own identity. I see this same sense

of pride in our campers. Camp Nubar

excels at encouraging campers

to build a sense of pride in their

personal and community identities.

I look forward to another amazing

summer at Camp Nubar.

Founded in 1963, agbu Camp

Nubar is a first-rate modern facility

that has been highly ranked by

the American Camp Association,

American Red Cross, and American

Academy of Pediatrics.



atp works with Yale’s Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry

on new training manual for Armenia

WATERTOWN – Armenia Tree

Project (atp) recently completed a

two-year project to develop sustainable

forestry training models for Armenia.

Through a collaborative effort

with Yale University’s Global Institute

of Sustainable Forestry, atp

worked with Chadwick Oliver and

Zachary Parisa to conduct an analysis

of the forests around the village

of Margahovit.”The degradation of

forested areas in Armenia necessitates

a new and bold approach to

forestry practices,” stated atp Executive

Director Jeff Masarjian. “With

Yale’s expertise, atp has been able

to collaborate with forestry officials

to bring cutting edge forestry training

to Armenia. It is our hope that

the project will literally reshape the

nation’s landscape and ensure a sustainable

future for its population.”

Working with students from the

Agricultural Academy of Armenia,

local residents of Margahovit, and

World Wildlife Fund, atp planted

a 20 hectare model forest using indigenous

tree species to be used for

future sustainable forestry training.

atp also presented a new Sustainable

Forestry Manual to stakeholders

in Armenia and developed

a seminar training model to use as

a guide. The manual is currently being

published in Eastern Armenian,

and an English-language version is

available at the atp Web site.

Finally, atp assisted the local

community of Margahovit in identifying

non-timber forest products,

bringing environmental education

into the local schools, and through

stakeholder meetings that outlined

the benefits and challenges of community

forestry. atp is currently

developing a plan to conduct sustainable

forestry training seminars

throughout Armenia.

“The project was designed to evaluate

the condition of the forests in

Northern Armenia, paying particular

attention to the factors that are

limiting the ability for regeneration,”

explained Masarjian. “An assessment

was made of plants, herbs,

and other non-timber products

that may be harvested for generating

alternative income for residents

living in proximity to the forests.

Additional trainings on rotational

grazing will also be held with livestock

owners to prevent soil erosion

and further degradation of forests.”

“The collaboration between atp

and Yale has been a great success.

We worked together to create an

instructional manual designed

specifically for conditions in Armenia

that will be used to train local

stakeholders in global best practices

of forest management. We’re

grateful for the vision and generosity

of Sandra and Jim Leitner, who

introduced us in the hope of creating

a sustainable future for Armenia,”

concluded Dr. Oliver, director

of the Yale Global Institute of Sustainable


This project was funded by the

Critical Ecosystem Partnership

Fund, a joint program of l’Agence

Francaise de Developpement, Conservation

International, the Global

Environment Facility, the Government

of Japan, the MacArthur

Foundation, and the World Bank.

Since 1994, Armenia Tree Project

has planted and restored more

than 2,500,000 trees and created

hundreds of jobs for impoverished

Armenians in tree-regeneration

programs. The organization’s three

tiered initiatives are tree planting,

community development to reduce

poverty and promote self-sufficiency,

and environmental education to

protect Armenia’s precious natural


Zachary Parisa (right) from Yale

University gathered data on the

forests in the Lori region of Armenia

with students from Yerevan’s

Agricultural Academy.

Let us know

what’s on your mind.

Write to us at

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The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009 5


Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan completed

Armenian Bone

Marrow Donor

Registry holds preopening


in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – On the evening

of April 2, the Armenian Bone

Marrow Donor Registry (abmdr)

held a cocktail reception in Glendale,

California, to celebrate the

upcoming opening of its Stem Cell

Harvesting Center in Yerevan.

The event, which was attended

by supporters, abmdr staff, and

various committee members – all

of whom volunteer for the registry

– served as an opportunity to announce

formally the much-anticipated

launch of the Stem Cell Harvesting

Center, inform guests of

current and future abmdr projects,

and thank supporters for helping

save lives through the registry.

$850,000 raised

In opening remarks, Dr. Frieda

Jordan, president of the abmdr

Board of Directors, expressed her

gratitude to the numerous individual

and corporate supporters who

contributed to the registry’s firstever

telethon, held on April 13, 2008.

“Thanks to your timely assistance,

the Stem Cell Harvesting Center at

last became a reality,” Dr. Jordan

said. “The project was realized despite

being faced with so many challenges

– including the Russo-Georgian

war last year, because of which

manufacturers could not deliver to

Yerevan the machines we had purchased

for the Stem Cell Harvesting

Center.” She said this particular

issue was eventually solved by

the United Armenian Fund, which

transported all the required equipment

to Armenia.

“With the opening of the Stem

Cell Harvesting Center, we can now

save Armenian and non-Armenian

lives easily and cheaply,” Dr. Jordan

continued. “This is why it’s so

critical to continue supporting the

work of the abmdr. In this respect,

our next major project is the establishment

of a transplant center.”

Two years in the making, the

Stem Cell Harvesting Center was

made possible through lead gifts by

abmdr Board member Dr. Carolann

Najarian, an anonymous

donor, and the Glendale Sunrise

Rotary, followed by contributions

from the Lincy Foundation, the

Disney Foundation, VivaCell of Armenia,

and various Armenian organizations,

as well as hundreds of

donors responding to the abmdr

Telethon. With a total of $850,000

raised, the registry was able to fully

renovate the Stem Cell Harvesting

Krikorian reelected

to school board

GLENDALE, Calif. – Incumbents

Ara Najarian and Frank

Quintero and challenger Laura

Friedman were elected to Glendale

City Council on Tuesday, ending

Bob Yousefian’s eight-year

service on the body.

They will join Dave Weaver and

John Drayman on the five-member

City Council after a swearing-in

ceremony on April 20.

Each of the three winners garnered

over 8,000 votes, while Mr.

Yousefian and Bruce Philpott

won around 6,500 votes. There

were seven additional candidates,

Fimi Mekhitarian.

Center site, provide it with state-

Razmik Moghadasian.

of-the-art equipment, and train

personnel. Slated to open on April

28, the center is expected to receive

full accreditation by the European

Federation of Immunogenetics.

A dynamic and healthy


According to Dr. Vergine Madenlian,

the abmdr’s outreach and

development officer and a biochemistry

lecturer at California State

University, Northridge, the opening

of the Stem Cell Harvesting

Center is a medical milestone not

only for Armenia and the Caucasus,

but also for Armenians throughout

the world. The center recruits bone

marrow/stem cell donors from predominantly

Armenian populations

worldwide, analyzes and determines

the HLA tissue type of donors, and

maintains a database. Once it receives

a request from a patient requiring

stem cell transplantation,

the abmdr finds matches in its own

or other registries worldwide and

facilitates the transplantation.

Dr. Madenlian, who has volunteered

for the abmdr since 2004,

including five Armenian-Americans.

An estimated 40 percent of

Glendale’s population is Armenian-


Ron Borucki was reelected as

city treasurer, holding off a challenge

from former Glendale mayor

Rafi Manoukian.

In the School Board race, voters

reelected Greg Krikorian and

Joylene Wagner. At the same

time they elected Christine Walters.

Unlike the incumbents, Ms.

Walters and Eric Sahakian enjoyed

the strong support of the

teachers’ union and the Armenian

National Committee of Glendale

Political Action Committee.

Incumbents Armine Hacopian

and Anita Quinonez Gabrielian

From left, Karineh Khudikian, Naz Atikian, Amalia Keoreghian, and Dr. Frieda Jordan, president of the abmdr Board of


Dr. Evelyn Baghdasarian (left) and Lilit Aladadyan.

were reelected as trustees of Glendale

Community College. Ann Hazel

Ransford was also elected. The other

added that 50 percent of the registry’s

over 14,000 donors are under

28 years old, making the abmdr

internationally recognized as one

of the world’s most dynamic – and

healthiest – registries. “It’s just one

more reason that makes volunteering

for the abmdr such a spiritually

rewarding experience,” she said.

Following Dr. Jordan’s address,

Alicia Asmarian, Naz Atikian,

and Ani Azar of the abmdr announced

the registry’s annual gala,

“Match for Life 2009,” which will be

held on July 12 at the Glendale Hilton.

The event will raise funds for

advocacy, education, and the registry’s

ongoing life-saving services.

Next to take the podium were Dr.

Evelyn Baghdasarian and Lilit

Aladadyan of the abmdr, who

informed the guests of the registry’s

next walkathon, “Walk of Life

2009,” slated to take place on October

3 at Glendale’s Verdugo Park.

The event, which will include entertainment,

music, and dancing, is

being organized to raise funds for

the registry’s activities as well as to

recruit stem cell donors.

Helping a 21-year-old


For an inside look at the abmdr’s

work, Fimi Mekhitarian, a longtime

volunteer and West Coast recruitment

officer, spoke of a recent

FaceBook appeal for a 21-year-old

Armenian man diagnosed with

acute leukemia and requiring an urgent

stem cell transplant. “There’s

been an outpouring of grassroots

support following the appeal,” Ms.

Mekhitarian said. “Today the young

man’s family and friends are organizing

a stem-cell donor recruitment,

and this is where we come

in. In fact, we have recruitments

lined up for San Francisco, Chicago,

and Florida. We’re literally having a

field day recruiting donors.”

candidate was Vrej Agajanian.

City clerk Ardy Kassakhian,

running unopposed, was reelected.

The evening’s speakers also included

Dr. Stuart Siegal, an early abmdr

supporter who has had an instrumental

role in helping Dr. Jordan

establish the registry. Commenting

on the launch of the Stem Cell Harvesting

Center, Dr. Siegal said, “One

of the most wonderful outcomes of

this project is that you see tangible

results in terms of saving lives.”

Among the evening’s guest were

many who have been impacted by

life-threatening, blood-related illnesses.

One such individual was

Razmik Moghadasian, whose

nine-year-old son lost his battle

with leukemia in 2007. Even

though a stem cell donor was found

through the abmdr at that time, a

relapse in the child’s condition

prevented a transplant. “I see the

abmdr as an insurance policy for

everyone,” said Mr. Moghadasian,

who has since volunteered for the

abmdr. “If everyone had a donor

[through the registry], everyone

would be safe.”

Established in 1999, the abmdr,

a nonprofit organization, helps

Armenians worldwide survive lifethreatening

blood-related illnesses

by recruiting and matching donors

to those requiring bone marrow

stem cell transplants. To date, the

registry has recruited over 14,000

donors across three continents,

identified 1,276 patients, found 821

potential matches, and facilitated

nine bone marrow transplants.



Glendale will have only one Armenian council member

Ara Najarian. Greg Krikorian. Ardy Kassakhian.

Polls were slow on Election Day

in Glendale.


6 The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009




Auntie Rose’s Kurabia

by Armen


Easter is my holiday. I have a collection

of whimsical bunnies, fancy

placemats, a dining table that

easily seats 17, and a traditional

menu that includes shish kebab,

pilaf, soubereg and all the trimmings.

The family arrives after

church and we graze on yalanchi

and string cheese while everyone

vows that from this year forward,

we will omit all mezza (appetizers)

and eat more sensibly. In the blink

of an eye, second helpings are being

dished out, everyone is again

complaining that there is too much

food, the women rise to go into

the kitchen to wash dishes, and

the men retire to the living room,

eyes at half mast, ready for afternoon

naps. Their youthful counterparts,

the grandchildren, run wild

through the house, energized from

all the foil wrapped chocolate eggs

they have ingested since the day

began. It may all sound crazy, but

the scene is a welcome tradition in

our ethnic household.

This year, however, Easter has

moved to my sister-in-law’s house.

We are in the middle of pouring

concrete and landscaping our yard;

I am busy tending to my mother’s

broken shoulder and subsequent

recovery. Easter dinner, for this

year and this year only, will be

cooked and eaten elsewhere.

Today, on the day I would normally

be making a major grocery

shopping list, I am headed to the

market to purchase five simple

items: one pound of unsalted butter,

one pound of regular butter,

shortening, a box of superfine sugar,

and flour. These are the ingredients

for kurabia, a traditional part

of our holiday ritual. Regardless of

whose house we may be celebrating

this year’s holiday – my kurabia will

be part of the annual tradition.

I first tasted kurabia, a delicate,

melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookie,

at my Aunt Rose’s house. I couldn’t

have been more than 6 or 7 years

old at the time. She lived across

the street and Saturdays were play

days with our cousins. I happened

to be there one day when a mystery

package arrived from her relatives

in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I

watched her carefully unwrap the

brown wrap that revealed an old,

battered Sees candy box, you know,

the shiny white box with black lettering

embossed on top, including

Mary Sees herself with that trademark

grandmotherly smile. The

box however, was not filled with

candy. Instead – two layers of neatly

placed cookies were inside, each

perfectly shaped and precise in

Armenian Reporter columnist Armen D.

Bacon is senior director for communications

and public relations for the Fresno

County Office. Ms. Bacon lives in Fresno,

California, and is a wife, mother, professional

woman, and writer. Since 2004,

her thoughts and reflections about life

have been published in the “Valley Voices”

section of The Fresno Bee as well as

the Armenian Reporter. She also writes,

produces, and hosts a radio series titled

“Live, Laugh, Love” on Fresno’s K-jewel

99.3 radio. She can be reached at

size. Aunt Rose informed me they

were called kurabias or shakareeshee

(shakar means sugar in Armenian).

She innocently (and quite generously)

offered me a taste. So began

my love affair with these heavenly,

mouth-watering delicacies. For the

next 30 years, I would hunt down

recipes to mimic this first memorable

and delicious experience.

Years passed. I tried recipe after

recipe, all quite unsuccessfully. Consistency

was off, the sweetness and

texture was impossible to replicate,

mine tended to have a crunchy and

unacceptable bite to them, quite

contrary to Auntie Rose’s rendition,

a secret family recipe, she had once

confided. Looking back, I understand

now why she hid them on the

top shelf of her kitchen cabinet.

One day, quite by accident, I was

at an Armenian function with my

husband’s side of the family, when

one of his aunties, Auntie Lorraine,

confessed that she, too, had

an obsession for these cookies.

But unlike me, she had stumbled

upon what she described as the

perfect recipe. To my delight, she

was happy to share it with me. I

carefully wrote down the five ingredients

and then quizzed her repeatedly

about the proper texture

of the dough, cooking temperature,

which rack seemed best suited for a

perfect outcome, and so on and so

forth. I wanted no detail spared. I

took incessant notes.

The next day, I began the arduous

task of baking the cookies. I

clarified the butter, measured out

ingredients and was ready to sift,

beat and roll. I could already taste

Aunt Rose’s kurabias, despite the

decades that had passed since I had

been in her kitchen. I whipped the

butters until their appearance was

likened to whipping cream. I slowly

added the sugar, patiently waiting

until the consistency was just

as Auntie Lorraine had described.

And then the final step – adding

the flour – almost 2 cups but not

so much that the dough might

crumble. She had suggested I close

my eyes and feel it with my soul

– it would be slightly wet but not

too sticky. I realize now that the

sensory talents of our ancestors

have somehow skipped my generation

and at this point I was praying

for a small miracle or divine

intervention. I hoped that Auntie

Rose might be gracing me with a

smile from heaven, cheering me on

in my desire to make her family’s

treasured cookies. I rolled out the

dough, cutting it at an angle, until

finally the cookies were ready to be

placed on the cookie sheet. As they

baked, the aroma filled my kitchen.

The moment of truth was about

to arrive. After they were sufficiently

cooled, I carefully lifted a

slightly disfigured one from the

tray, dusted it with powdered sugar

and bit into it. Melt-in-your-mouth

perfection. I had succeeded. Auntie

Lorraine’s recipe worked. Word

travels fast. I have since become

the “Kurabia Queen” of the Valley,

a title I wear proudly, after years

of practice and hundreds of pounds

of butter and sugar purchased

in the process. I am called on to

bake them for weddings, baptisms,

birthdays and holidays.

While this year’s Easter holiday

is not being celebrated at my house,

I am still baking my kurabias. If you

happen to be in the neighborhood,

drop by and let me offer you a cup

of coffee and a kurabia. I promise,

it will melt in your mouth.

From left, Gerard Libaridian, Mary Johnson, Ann Meade, and Richard Norsigian.

Metro Detroit committee promotes

Armenian Genocide awareness


to promoting awareness

of, and gaining U.S. recognition

for, the first genocide of the 20th

century, The Metro Detroit Armenian

Genocide Committee, in collaboration

with Facing History and

Ourselves, organized on March 25

the third educator’s workshop (in

Michigan) on the Armenian Genocide.

The Knights of Vartan, Detroit

Lodge, sponsored the project

initially conceived and sponsored

by Edgar Hagopian, local businessperson,

and his Hagopian Family


Richard Norsigian, a member of

the committee as well as a principal

in the South Lake School District,

coordinated the event with the

help of Kim Meade, Macomb Social

Studies Consultant. Educators

representing 13 school districts attended

the March 25th workshop

held at the Macomb Intermediate

School District offices.

Facilitor for the workshop Dr.

Mary Johnson, Senior Historian

for Facing History and Ourselves,

used text and video to present a

background on the “universe of

obligation” and segued into the

history of the Armenian Genocide.

Educators using the provided

resource materials were asked to

participate by posing scenarios and

voicing their ideas and opinions on

the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians

at the hands of the Ottoman

Turks from 1915-1923, and the response

at that time from the international

community. Dr. Johnson

then introduced guest speaker Dr.

Gerard Libaridian, who holds the

Alex Manoogian Chair in Modern

Armenian History at the University

of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr.

Libaridian also served as advisor

to Armenian President Levon Ter

Petrossian from 1991 to 1997.

Participants were reminded

of the Second Annual Armenian

Genocide Essay Competition open

to all Michigan Middle and High

School Students, sponsored by the

Hagopian Family Foundation with

cash awards for both the winning

student and the instructor.

The Metro Detroit Armenian

Genocide Committee members are

Edgar Hagopian, Edward Bedikian,

Ray Boujoulian, Corinne Khederian,

Paul Kulhanjian, Richard Norsigian,

David Terzibashian and Madeline


“The Armenian Genocide - a genocide

that is not reflected in our history

books and that on April 24,

2009, represents 94 years later, even

though 42 states and numerous foreign

governments have recognized

it, remains unacknowledged by the

U.S. Government and the successors

to the Ottoman Turk perpetrators,”

stated Mr. Hagopian.


Let us know what’s on your mind.

Write to us at

The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009 7


Sipan Armenian School honored by Armenia’s Ministry of Education

PARAMUS – On March 15, at

the annual fundraising event of Sipan

Armenian School, Mrs. Louisa

Janbazian, president of the school

Board, announced that the school

received an Honorary Award from

Mr. Spartak Seyranyan, the Minister

of Science and Education of the Republic

of Armenia, for its legacy of

educating and nurturing the young

Armenian generation with the Armenian

Spirit, and for the 30th Anniversary

of its founding. Mrs. Janbazian

added that the school has

earned this award because of the

hard work and the dedication of the

teachers and especially the principal,

Mrs. Arpi Kevorkian, who teach

the Armenian children to learn and

love the Armenian language and

our rich cultural heritage.

She also thanked the Board members,

the guests and the donors for

their continued support for the

school, and praised the founding

members (Armenian Evangelical

College Students Association of

Beirut, Lebanon) some of whom

are still on the School Board. Thirty

years ago, as new emigrants from

Lebanon here in New Jersey, this

group had the vision to create an

environment, outside of the home,

where Armenian children could

come together to learn their Armenian

language and history.

Finally, she thanked James and

Maral Sahagian, who graciously

hosted this fundraising event at

their home in Airmont, N.Y., where

the guests spent a lovely afternoon

and enjoyed a delicious Lenten

luncheon. The proceeds from this

event, as well as the generous donations

from friends and supporters,

will help the school to continue

with its noble mission.

The Sipan Armenian School,

which meets on Friday evenings at

the Armenian Presbyterian Church

of Paramus, NJ, has Pre-Nursery to

seventh grades.


Some of the teachers and Board members of the Sipan School.

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8 The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009


J. Michael Hagopian’s documentary The River Ran Red to be

screened at Englewood Public Library April 23

ENGLEWOOD – In observance

of the 94th anniversary of the Armenian

Genocide, the Cultural

Committee of St. Thomas Armenian

Apostolic Church in Tenafly

will present an award-winning 2008,

60-minute documentary, The River

Ran Red, by award-winning filmmaker

Dr. J. Michael Hagopian

on Thursday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m.

in the Englewood Public Library’s

Mackay Room. The program is free

and open to the public.

The River Ran Red is the epic

search for survivors of the Armenian

Genocide along the Euphrates

River, which snakes from the Armenian

Plateau in Turkey to Syria.

From his archives of 400 testimonies

of survivors and eyewitnesses,

documentarian Dr. Hagopian

weaves a compelling story of terrifying

intensity and resounding

warmth. The search concludes with

the discovery and testimony of the

last three survivors, among several

thousand, who had been stuffed

into a burning cave in the forbidden

desert of Der Zor.

“If I succeed in translating to the

viewer the experience and the pathos

of those Armenians who were

deported from their homes and

made it to the Euphrates River only

to witness the worst kind of bloodshed,

then I accomplished what I

set out to do,” said Dr. Hagopian,

who wrote and produced the film.

A resident of Thousand Oaks,

Calif., Dr. Hagopian’s hunt for

survivors took him to 13 different

countries on five continents over a



Looking for bright, mature, multi-lingual (Armenian/French/English)

individualwho is well organized and pays attention to detail.

Must be computer savvy and have strong planning and problem

solving skills.

Potential for advancement to FT Administrative Assistant.

Contact the Armenian American Health Professional Organization (AAHPO)

at 201-546-6166 or

period of four decades. He recorded

such compelling accounts as the

priest who returns to his birthplace

and meets the man who killed his

father and other family members,

and people who reported seeing

hundreds of bodies floating down

what they described as the bloody

waters of the Euphrates River.

The River Ran Red, the final film

in Hagopian’s Witnesses Trilogy

on the Armenian Genocide of 1915,

had its premier at the Arpa International

Film Festival last October

24 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood,

Calif. – four days after Dr.

Hagopian’s 95th birthday.

“We are so pleased to have had

this opportunity to show Dr. Hagopian’s

documentary,” noted Sylvia

Minassian, Arpa Film Festival

Founder. “He is an amazing man.”

Dr. Hagopian was honored with

the Arpa Lifetime Achievement

Award and the Armin T. Wegner

Humanitarian Award in 2006. He

also is the recipient of Jewish

World Watch’s “I Witness” Award

for dedicating his professional life

to chronicling the history of the

Armenian people and commemorating

victims of the Armenian


Dr. Hagopian himself is a Genocide

survivor. As a young boy, he

was hidden in a well in a mulberry

grove to escape Turkish marauders

and later fled, with his family, to

the United States, where he eventually

earned a PhD from Harvard

University in 1943.He started collecting

film footage about Armenians

early on in his 60-year career

as a documentary filmmaker. He

established the Armenian Film

Foundation in Thousand Oaks in

1979 with the help of several community

leaders. He has made over

70 educational films; 17 of those

are about the Armenian people,

including The River Ran Red, and

the definitive film on the Turkish

massacre of Armenians in 1915, The

Forgotten Genocide.

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

or call 1.800.ACS.2345.

Paint the Town Purple in

celebration of Relay For Life on

May 1, May Day For Relay.


The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009 9


Armenian Relief Society centennial celebrated in New York

by Florence Avakian

NEW YORK – It is an organization

that has served Armenians

worldwide tirelessly for 100 years,

with 18,000 members in 223 chapters

in 26 countries. On Saturday,

March 28, the Armenian Relief Society

of the Eastern United States

celebrated the hundredth anniversary

of this remarkable organization

at the Yale Club in New York


Among the more than 200 people

present from across the United

States, were several guests of honor,

including the Prelate of the Eastern

Prelacy Archbishop Oshagan

Choloyan, Armenia’s envoy to the

United Nations Amb. Armen Martirossian,

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo

(D.-Calif.), and twelve Eastern region

ars members who have given

dedicated service for more than 50


Warmly welcoming the attendees

was the chairperson of the

Centennial Banquet Committee,

Sonia Bezdikian. Following

the singing of the American,

Armenian, and ars anthems by

Hooshere Bezdikian Kaligian,

Archbishop Choloyan gave the

invocation, and remarks were

shared by the chairperson of the

ars Centennial Committee Angele

Manoogian, chairperson of

the ars Central Executive Vicky

Marashlian, and ars Eastern Regional

Executive Board treasurer

Ani Attar.

A video presentation was shown

detailing the history of the organization,

and the sacrifice of the

thousands of Armenian women

who have devoted their lives to

the service of the Armenian people

during the past 100 years.

Twelve outstanding


A high point of the evening came

when 12 of the 115 women who

have been members of the ars for

more than 50 years were honored

with plaques. They include Arpine

Brajcovich, Anahid Dadoyan,

Elizabeth Hagopian, Marie

Karagullian, Alice Karjian, Arshalouys

Kazanjian, Helen Parnagian,

Arax Sarajian, Lucine

Der Ohanesian-Sarian, Arev

Sarkissian, Anais Tcholakian,

and Berjoohi Yessaian.

“Destiny scattered our nation all

over the world, and everywhere

we went we established schools,

churches, and national organizations

such as this one,” Amb. Martirossian

said in his remarks. “The

wisdom, compassion, and foresight

of the founders of the ars

found a fertile soil in this great

country. Relations of the Armenian-American

organizations with

the political institutions of the

U.S. acquired a special meaning

and importance after September

21, 1991. The U.S. Congress has

been steadfastly rendering political

and financial assistance to Armenia

since that very first day of

our independence.”

Wishing the organization future

success, the ambassador said, “The

centennial of the Armenian Relief

Society is a great event not only

here in the United States, but is

also duly acknowledged in Armenia.”

A congratulatory message

from diaspora minister Hranush

Hakobyan was also read.

A congresswoman’s


Delivering the keynote address,

Ms. Eshoo poignantly paid tribute

to her Armenian roots, saying

they had instilled in her “devotion

to family, belief in the value

of hard work, charity, community,

and faith.” She recounted that 100

years ago, Edgar Agnouny founded

the ars in New York “to provide

educational and humanitarian

aid to Armenians throughout the


Ms. Eshoo pointed out that ”in

the subsequent century, the ars

Soloist Hooshere


(standing, second

from left) and

other guests at

the centennial


has become an important and essential

source of assistance to Armenians

in need of a safe haven,

a chance at an education and a

better life, all the while preserving

the identity of Armenians, often

against those who would deny our

very existence.

“I am proud to be an Armenian.

I am proud to be an Armenian

woman,” she declared to thunderous

applause. “Over the years, the

ars has been one of the world’s

leading women’s organizations, an

extension of our capacity for love,

cooperation, and good works. You

are building a better world, and you

are training future leaders.”

A member of the congressional

Armenian caucus, and an original

co-sponsor of House Resolution

252 affirming the U.S. record on the

Armenian Genocide, Ms. Eshoo recalled

that President Obama during

his campaign had promised that as

president he would recognize the

Armenian Genocide. “The time is

ripe for the government of Turkey

and the United States to put an end

to the lie and face the truth about

the Armenian Genocide,” she concluded

to a standing ovation.

The unique evening of celebration

concluded with the Prelate offering

the benediction, and again

voicing strong support and congratulations

to an outstanding organization

for its devoted 100-year

service to Armenians around the


10 The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009


Nectar Munro’s second-grade class at St. Gregory Armenian School. Photos: Gregory Lima.

St. Gregory Armenian School principal Margrit Hamparsoumian.

The ten classes of Armenian

St. Gregory

Armenian School

in White Plains is a

positive force

by Gregory Lima


large sense every church is a school,

some more than others. The beautiful,

expansive church of St. Gregory

the Enlightener in White Plains, New

York, started as a school even before

it had its own altar as a church.

It started when a group of Armenians

who had moved to the

northern suburbs of New York City

sought a more local place to worship

and to teach their children

to speak Armenian. They found

Fr. Karekin Kasparian, then the

dean of the St. Nersess Seminary,

recently arrived in the area, who

happily obliged by setting up seminars

and classes on the Armenian

spiritual and cultural heritage

along with Armenian-language

classes for adults and for children.

Soon the group became a parish

and Fr. Karekin became its pastoral

priest. Over time the means were

found to raise a church that from

the outset would make very ample

provision for the school that was

already in existence. Today, some

10 years after the consecration of

the Church of St. Gregory the Enlightener,

the original number of

classrooms has doubled.

Lydia Ochoa.


Dikran Kochian.

Ani Mekenian.

Caroline Mardirossian.

Christina Chevian.

Armenian as a second


Over the many years when Armenian

was widely spoken at home

among the immigrant communities,

it was regarded as the mother tongue

and taught as a first language. With

generational assimilation, however,

Continued on page 11

Ani Ozsolak. Second-grader Talia. Christopher Mardirossian.

The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009 11


The ten classes of Armenian

Continued from page 10

it became in fact a second language,

and in many cases the forgotten

language, although it was not easy

to recognize it as such. The loss of

language threatened the profound

loss of cultural identity and with it

Turkish genocidal triumph over the

dispossessed survivors.

The recourse was to tie language

instruction to the institutional

longevity and organizing power of

the Armenian Apostolic Church in

America; to teach Armenian as a

second language, and to be serious

about it. To be serious about it meant

to separate it from Sunday school,

giving it its own independent space

and validated academic curriculum.

It also meant replicating as closely as

possible family instruction through

direct, personal, one-on-one teacherstudent

participation in small classes,

and further, to locate and employ

the best pedagogical, peer-reviewed

teaching techniques. It also helped

to call on the cultural resources of

the community.

The result as seen in the St. Gregory

Armenian School is ten classes

of Armenian every Saturday

morning. Each class is tied to the

equivalent location of the children

in the public school system, the

children placed in nursery, pre-kindergarten,

kindergarten, then first

through seventh grades. Moreover,

the children stay comfortably together

through the grades creating

enduring, interactive friendships.

They take a child at any age, place

him or her in the grade appropriate

to the age, the teacher making the

accommodating adjustments.

According to Margrit Hamparsoumian,

the school principal,

starting at the earliest age is

preferable. That is why they include

teaching Armenian at the nursery

level. But at each age the children

have personal strengths that can

be called upon to make learning

the language natural, stimulating,

and fun. There have been some excellent

results at all grades.

A clustered archipelago

Each of the classes has a distinctive

character of its own. Going from

one class to another is like visiting

separate islands in a clustered archipelago,

admiring the artwork in

one, listening to the recitals in another,

watching a group dancing, or

nodding approval at the melodious

harmonies of the choral voices in

others. The children are kept busy.

Much of the learning is through action

and interactions that are akin

to group play.

Each grade level has its own teacher,

and where necessary, two. The

variation in teacher personalities

creates different class atmospherics.

In some classes the teacher has an

overwhelming presence and one can

get the impression here that spring

has come and every seed must burst

into bloom, and if force of will can

make it happen, it will. Another

might have an autumnal feeling,

a time of plenty where we simply

reach out and gather the already

ripened fruits. Some of the teachers

have their own children in their

class. As 6th-grade teacher Mari

Yapoujian explained, “If I ask my

children to come here, I must do my

part also. I may be the teacher, but I

find I learn with them, not only by

preparing the class but in the class.

They have better memories than I

have. They become my teachers too.”

Not everyone is delighted to be

there, and there are some you cannot

keep away. As they grow older

some can rebel against their parents’

insistence they attend class. Asking

one such very young lady what

she would rather do, she answered

“Sleep,” which she seemed to manage

exactly where she was. Until it

was time to dance. Then the sleepy

girl turned into a dynamo. There

was also the boy who had finished

all the grades and still came back. He

was drawn by the pleasure of speaking

Armenian, the cultural activities,

and the friends he had made.

Drawing on the


Language and culture create each

other until there is a fusion that it

may be impossible to separate. The

children may be learning the language

but it is successful only to the

extent they are learning and directly

participating in Armenian culture.

One of the strengths of this Armenian

school is its ability to call upon

Armenian cultural resources in the

New York metropolitan area. A good

example of this is Rita Kahvejian

of New Jersey’s Shushi Dance

Group and Khoren Mekanejian,

composer and choirmaster.

There is a special pleasure in seeing

children in full costumes rehearsing

their parts in an Armenian play. Or

others in rigorous dance lessons,

where only perfect posture in all

body parts is acceptable, along with

precisely choreographed steps. Or

seeing the children rise to and meet

the challenge as Armenian music

fills the auditorium. Nor is the satisfaction

less when visiting Shant

Mardirossian’s history class and

seeing the students in the physical

act of handling coins of the realm

and imagining how they were used

in the different historical periods.

In one of the classes there is a

poster-sized photograph of Ervand

Kochar’s great statue of the

epic hero David of Sassoon. The

mighty stallion’s rear hooves

stand on a small pedestal that

represents current Armenia in the

mind of the sculptor. The horse as

it prances forward covers a much

larger area beyond Armenia. Kochar

saw the horse as representing

the whole of the Armenian

people, most beyond current

national borders. David’s sword

is not pointed at a single enemy.

It is behind him, ready to swing

in every direction. He is poised

against a surrounding multitude.

This is a brilliant statue that says

Armenia, its culture and spiritual

values, and what it means in the

lifeblood of its people will stand

and fight for its place in the world.

St. Gregory’s Armenian School is

a positive force in that continuing


12 The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009


Looking to the next generation in Armenia: agbu focus 2009

honors Hye Geen Pregnant Women’s Centers

Some of the hundreds of mothers and children in Armenia who have benefited

from the agbu Hye Geen Pregnant Women’s Centers.

CHICAGO – Since 2001, each

agbu focus weekend has paid

tribute to a specific agbu program

that has touched the lives of

young Armenians. Looking to the

next generation in Armenia, agbu

focus proudly honors agbu Hye

Geen by dedicating its 2009 fundraising

campaign to benefit the new

Pregnant Women’s Center in Talin,

Armenia. The Talin Center will be

the third of its kind in Armenia and

the first in that city. agbu focus is

a biennial weekend event designed

for young Armenian professionals

from all over the world to congregate

and share their international

perspectives, as well as provide a

venue to showcase notable contributions

and achievements made by

agbu’s diverse youth-oriented programs.

Building on the impressive

achievements experienced during

the premiere weekend in New York

in 2001, agbu focus has since united

more than 1,500 young Armenians

from cities around the globe,

with weekends hosted in New York

(2001, 2007), Montreal (2003), Miami

(2005), and now heading west

to Chicago. Additionally, well over

$125,000 has been raised for many

agbu programs, including Generation

Next, the Scholarship Program

and the New York Summer Intern


From July 16-19, 2009, focus will

welcome hundreds of Armenians

to Chicago for this unique celebration.

Rooms have been reserved at

the Westin Michigan Avenue Hotel

and a special discounted rate

is available for reservations made

only through agbu beginning in

mid-April. Plans have also been

set to host the Gala Evening, the

highlight of the focus weekend, at

the Art Institute of Chicago’s new

modern wing, which is set to open

this summer.

Established by the agbu Hye

Geen Committee of Los Angeles

in response to the country’s high

infant mortality, lack of nutrition

and the shortage of resources for

potential mothers, the first Hye

Geen Pregnant Women’s Center

opened its doors in Gyumri in

2002 with the encouragement of

the Republic of Armenia’s Minister

for the Protection of Women and


Two years later, a second center

in Vanadzor was opened. This year,

the Hye Geen Committee plans

to open its third center in Talin,

which is in desperate need of help,

as many villages in the region are

poor and practically abandoned.

These community-based health

resource centers provide critical

pre-natal care to pregnant women

who often suffer from malnutrition,

lack the funds for proper medical

care, and have little access to accurate

health information. Expectant

mothers who gather daily at the

centers benefit from vital medical

exams, a congenial social atmosphere,

individual meetings with

counselors, nutritious meals, and

vitamins provided by Hye Geen.

Center participants are recommended

by local clinics and spend

4-5 hours a day at the facilities.

Meals are prepared and served by

the women themselves in order to

encourage good nutrition habits

which are taught by the trained

center staff. Each center has three

local employees on staff, including

a social worker, who work with the

women to ensure that their babies

are born healthy.

Various medical personnel are

invited to the centers periodically,

or as required, to monitor each

woman’s progress and needs. The

superintendent of the centers,

Nara Sahakian, who is a lecturer in

psychology at Yerevan State University,

travels from Yerevan for

weekly visits to each center and ensures

that each facility is operating

at its utmost.

To date, hundreds of healthy babies

have been born to the mothers

who have participated in the programs

at the agbu Hye Geen Pregnant

Women’s Centers.

agbu focus believes that every

child born in Armenia deserves a

chance at a healthy life unfettered

by preventable medical issues.

Honoring agbu Hye Geen’s latest

project, focus has launched a largescale

pre-event fundraising effort

to ensure that the Talin Center will

open with all the resources it needs

to carry out its mission of serving

the pregnant women of Armenia.

Since 1994, agbu Hye Geen in

Southern California has worked to

preserve and honor achievements

of Armenian women, provide a

forum for them throughout the

world, promote their role in family

and society through research, education,

and advocacy, and provide

overall support to empower Armenian

women as carriers of the Armenian

cultural heritage.

Established in 1906, agbu is the

world’s largest non-profit Armenian

organization. Headquartered

in New York City, agbu preserves

and promotes the Armenian identity

and heritage through educational,

cultural and humanitarian

programs, annually serving some

400,000 Armenians on five continents.

connect: 1-212-319-6383 x128.

Visit us at the new

The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009 13


Calendar of Events

Edward D. Jamie, Jr. Funeral Chapel, LLC

208-17 Northern Blvd. Bayside, NY 11361

Tel. 718-224-2390


Serving the Armenian Community Since 1969

Edward D. Jamie, Jr.-NY&NJ Licensed Funeral Director



RUM SERIES - Remembering

the Forgotten: The Untold Story

of Clergymen Lost to the Genocide.

The second forum features

Yeretzgeen Joanna Baghsarian’s

remarkable story of how

a group of her students took a

proactive role in remembering

these forgotten martyrs. There

is no charge for the evening, but

RSVP is requested by email to

events@armenia or

by telephone at 212-689-7810.




7:00 P.M. Fordham Law

School, Amphitheater, 140 W.

62nd St, NYC. Admission: $12.

AASSSG 2009 Honoree, Andrew

H. Tarsy, Awards given to Krieger

Essay Contest winners. visit, e-

mail kalayjiana@aol.comor call

201 941-2266.


organized by the ARS NY Erebouni

& Mayr Chapters Walk to

raise funds for Holy Martyrs &

St. Illuminator’s Day Schools/St.

Sarkis Saturday School. Regisration

1:00pm @ St. Sarkis Armenian

Apostolic Church Douglaston,

Queens/Walk begins

2:00pm for approx. 4 miles. Participation

Fee $25. Further info:

Hasmik Israelian — 516-330-

5290 or Nayda Voskeritchian





WE WERE” about Armenians

coming to USA in 1920. 8PM

in the Auditorium of Armenian

Church of the Holy Martyrs 209-

15 Horace Harding Expwy in

Bayside. Adults $20 – Children

$10 under age 12. Refreshments

following the performance. For

tickets call the church office at

718-225-0235 or Lolita Babikian

at 347-742-4015.



view the comedy/drama “Big

Story in a Small City,” on Thursday,

at 7:00 pm. Wine and cheese

will be served following the film.

Suggested donation is $5. For

more information, please email or call

212.686.0710. The Krikor and

Clara Zohrab Information Center

is located at 630 Second Avenue

(at 34th street) New York,

New York.


DINNER-DANCE. St. Illuminator’s

Armenian Day School, Friday,

7:30 p.m. at the Armenian

Center 69-23 47th Ave. Woodside,

NY. For information call





by the Armenian Medical Fund.

$125. For information call Nancy

Zoraian, 908-233-7279.



New York Armenian Home

(Flushing, NY) to be held at

Harbor Links Golf Course, Port

Washington, NY, starting at

7:30 pm. Featuring Varoujan

Vartanian and Band and Antranig

Armenian Dance Ensemble.

Donation: $150.00 per person.

Black Tie Optional. For more

details, please call NYAH: (718)



NER DANCE hosted by the

“Friends” at Russo’s on the Bay,

featuring Addis Harmandian

and his Band. Cocktails 7:30

pm. Dinner 9:00 pm. Donation:

$ 150. For Reservations please

call, school office: (718) 225 4826,

Negdar Arukian: (718) 423 4813.





Flushing, NY. Celebration to

be held at Harbor Links Golf

Course, Port Washington, NY.

Featuring Varoujan Vartanian

and Antranig Armenian Dance

Ensemble. Details to follow or

call NYAH, (718) 461-1504




QUET.Sts.Vartanantz Church,

Ridgefield, NJ. Donation: $50 pp

- for info/reservations call 201




CULTURE” A Cultural Festival

Under the Auspices of Dr. Hranush

Hakobyan, Republic of Armenia

Minister of Diaspora, Organized

by Hamazkayin Eastern

USA Regional Executive, Featuring

Alla Levonian from Armenia

and Babin Boghosian & Ensemble

from Los Angeles, With the

participation of Antranig Dance

Ensemble of AGBU, Akh’tamar

Dance Ensemble of St. Thomas

Armenian Church, Yeraz Dance

Ensemble of St. Sarkis Church,

NJ Hamazkayin Nayiri Dance

Group & Arekag Children’s

Choir & Dhol Group. SUNDAY,

NOVEMBER 15, 2009. 4pm. Felician

College, 262 S. Main St.,

Lodi, NJ. Donation: $75, $50, $35,

$25. For more information or

tickets please contact: Hamazkayin

@ 201-945-8992 or







3PM, North Andover High School,

Route 125, North Andover, MA.

Concert by Arlina Ensemble of

Armenia. Complimentary admission.

Reception to follow.




Armenians worldwide on


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the armenian


annual rates

U.S.A.: First Class Mail, $125; Periodicals Mail, $75

Canada: $125 (u.s.); Overseas: $250 (u.s.)





Female Armenian-American

available for part- time nanny

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14 The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009


Liver transplant spurs national Knights of Vartan commander

by Tom Vartabedian

WATERTOWN, Mass. – Haig

Deranian is truly a knight in shining


Ten years ago, he was at death’s

door before a liver transplant saved

his life. A donor stepped forward

when the situation became critical

and gave him a new lease.

Today, he’s the national commander

of the Knights of Vartan,

an organization that dates itself

back to 451 c.e. when Vartan Mamigonian

led the surge that preserved

Christianity for Armenians.

Deranian doesn’t carry a sword.

He has no shield. His only weapon

is the Armenian spirit and he wears

it proudly.

“It was not my time and I was

blessed by God,” he says of the

transplant. “God decided whether

I would live or die. I have a great

deal of faith which was part of my


Little is revealed about his life-ordeath

struggle back a decade ago,

just the way Deranian would prefer.

He’s not an individualist and wants

no purple heart for his survival. He

puts his organization before himself.

“I don’t know who the donor was,”

he says. “There’s no question organ

transplantation is a miracle in


But talk Knights of Vartan and

Deranian is all action. If he did have

a sword, it would be Excalibur. And

if this Knight ever came alive, well,

it’s as close to a Robin Hood scenario

as you can get.

His Sherwood Forest is the diaspora.

The mission is equality among

all Armenians everywhere.

Armenians need to unite with

one voice,” he points out. “I believe

Haig Deranian. Photo:

the Knights of Vartan is the perfect

organization that can cross all lines

to get things done. My involvement

and ultimate success are more of a

team effort. I might be in the right

place at the right time and was always

trying to make a difference

with my life.”

My late pastor, Rev. Vartan

Kassabian, was a Knight as well

as an arf member, the leader of

a church as well as an entertainer.

He was the consummate Armenian

who would rob Peter to pay Paul.

The former chairperson of our

Armenian National Committee of

Merrimack Valley is another Knight.

When Joe Dagdigian isn’t attending

meetings, he’s involved with the

arf Lowell Gomideh as well as the

Cosmic Ray Division in Armenia. In

fact, he joined the Knights to gain

added clout for the crd.

Deranian is also trying to make a

difference. With a membership that

has 23 lodges throughout the United

States and Canada, along with a

body of more than 3,000 Knights

and Daughters, it’s Deranian who

remains the catalyst.

The 67-year-old has been a Watertown

resident for the past 55

years. He attended local schools before

graduating from Northeastern

University. He has a wife (Donna

Pino) and three children (Gregory,

Jason, and Jennifer) and is

president and ceo of a company

called Jad Imports, an importer of

lighting products, and Deran Lamp

& Shade Company, manufacturer

and distributor of portable lighting


He has taught Sunday School at

St. James Church in Watertown

since 1997 and has a list of credentials

the length of your arm with

the Knights of Vartan. No need to

A community regroups after its pastor’s death

repeat everything, Suffice it to say,

he’s made the Armenian community

his priority.

Two years ago, Deranian chaired

the New England Pontifical visit of

His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos

of all Armenians.

He has helped deliver school supplies

to destitute schoolchildren in

Armenia, promoted hygiene and

sanitation in Armenia, sponsored

and renovated schools, and distributed

scholarships. Two of my ayf

children were K of V recipients.

According to one report, $19

million has gone to school projects

in Armenia. For every dollar

the brotherhood raises, the World

Bank matches $9.

This July, the City of Boston will

be converted into a metropolis for

Knights from every corner of the

country. More than 400 members

are expected to converge at the

Westin Copley from July 1 to 5.

Had he been alive, Der Vartan

would have played a key role as

commander of the Arakadz Lodge

of Merrimack Valley. In the entire

history of this organization,

no cleric has ever assumed such

a leading role and the reason why

he joined runs parallel with others

who’ve taken an initiative.

They wanted to make a difference.

“We believe that the preservation

of our racial, religious, and cultural

heritage is our sacred obligation,”

Deranian points out. “However we

achieve that means is up to us.”

Haig Deranian is alive today because

he had God on his side. He’ll

never dispute that. Nor will he ever

contradict the work of his organization,

much less the interaction of

Armenians everywhere, regardless

of political or fraternal affiliation.

For that, he is to be admired.

by Tom Vartabedian

Weeks after his death, a community

continues to mourn the loss of

its beloved pastor.

The passing of Der Vartan Kassabian

March 12 has sent the Merrimack

Valley reeling with aftershock

and cast parishioners from

St. Gregory Church into a bereaved


It’s not something anyone can

forget overnight – or after an eternity.

But like he would have wished,

grief must be replaced by healing

and the congregation must persevere.

If anything, this pastor always

preached vitality and encouraged

his flock to settle for nothing


As Sunday School students come

to grips with reality, several are

looking to the church for strength.

The priest who once humored them

with a casual Sunday sermon is no

longer there.

He taught them well. Hopefully,

the lessons will guide them toward

greater maturity.

Local genocide-commemoration

committees will miss his sturdy

presence at events where prayers

will mourn his loss. If anything,

they will remember the man for his

oratorical brilliance and the knack

for always finding the right words

in a dire situation.

Two years ago, when vandals destroyed

some genocide billboards

around Greater Boston, Armenians

everywhere were aghast.

Could this be another vile Turkish

prank Such vandalism made

the Boston papers with pity.

As the Armenian public criticized

the act, Der Vartan found a positive

side. In an invocation he delivered,

he told the audience that such acts

were “a blessing in disguise.”

“The publicity we received from

this caught the eye of every sympathetic

reader and underscored

nine decades of intolerance by our

people toward Turkey,” he pointed

out. “You can’t buy this kind of

press. They did us a favor.”

With his pearls of wisdom, Der

Vartan was like a firefly on a moonless

night, casting certain radiance

where there was none.

The elderly continue to grieve.

Each Sunday he would regale them

with words of inspiration, whether

it was from the altar or during a

coffee hour. Shortly after his father’s

death, Mgo walked into an

Armenian School class and sat with

the younger students.

His place, he felt, was with them

as words of encouragement flowed

from his mouth. A year ago this

time, his essay on genocide recognition

took first prize. As another

contest took effect, he urged the

students to enter, get involved,

make a difference in their church,

much the same way his father had


As another phase of a renovation

project takes place inside the

church, there seems to be greater

initiative than ever to get the work

accomplished in his memory. A better

tribute couldn’t be possible.

The Easter season took on greater

significance this year as in the past

with the death of Christ resurrecting

an entire Christian nation. In

some ways, the same could be said

for Der Vartan’s demise.

Life after death.

Visiting clergy continue to do

their part until a replacement is

named. Every promise has been

made by the hierarchy to find a

suitable pastor. To walk in his

shoes would be a daunting task for

any cleric.

Meanwhile, a congregation has

been enamored to carry on the

work he so delegated to others.

Jesus Christ died two centuries

ago. Presidents like Abe Lincoln

and John F. Kennedy are gone. Our

rich, classical composers, Bach,

Beethoven, Mozart set their own


Are they really dead Are not

their words and music still heard

Der Vartan had no illusions of

grandeur, yet he was grand in his

own humble, charismatic way. The

man some predicted would never

make a good priest was fit to be a

prince of his church.

It isn’t the quantity of life – the

number of years – that matters, but

rather the quality, how that life was

lived. Der Vartan lived his 51 years

exceptionally well.

In an age of takers, he was a giver.

Like the coin of life, his life was

dedicated to two sides, his family

and his work. For that, he leaves

Der Vartan


behind a rich legacy we have all

grown to appreciate.

He took the time to love and

laugh – to serve and enjoy countless

friendships. He took the time

to dream, play and reflect a little

more than we ordinarily would.

Der Vartan didn’t need a clock

in his timeless journey, or a schedule

to maintain. He killed time by

working it to death.

What you do for yourself unfortunately

dies with you. But what

you do for others lives on after

you. A man such as Der Vartan will

never die in the eyes of a grateful


The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009 15


16 The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009





Lake Khanchal

Patara Khanchal 1997

+ Satkha



M. Karakhach




M. Aghrikar

¸Didi Khanchal




Bughdashen (Gorelovka)

M. Madatapa



M. Dali


Swamp of Byurakn



M. Achkasar

The mosque at the center of this photograph is across the river and the border in Halimjan, whereas the buildings in the foreground are in Armenia. Photos: Tatul Hakobyan for the Armenian Reporter.

M. Lorasar

3008 2889

M. Parakh





M. Yerakatar


M. Ashotskar


M. Gaylakar



M. Tsurtav










M. Karanik







M. Tchokhak



M. Sevsar

Res. of

Arpi Lake




Metz Sepasar




Pokr Sepasar +

M. Ashotsk

M. Kaputkogh




+ Hartashen



Swamp of Zarishat






M. Sepasar


P L A T E A U o f A S H O T S K



Moks (Ibish)

M. Amasia



Swamp of Sghnakh











Pokr Sariar





M. Tsulasar


M. Kaghamakhut



Metz Sariar



+ Krashen




+ +








Jajur Pass.


Dilaver Meghrashat



Mayisian +


Marmashen Mon. +












M. Kapanak

Kumayri Fort. +









Akhurian Karnut Res.

After years of isolation, the ancient capitals of

Yervandashat and Bagaran are now open to visitors

There are many

historical sites

in Yeraskhadzor,

where the Arax and

Akhurian rivers


by Tatul Hakobyan


Armavir province, Armenia – The

residents of Bagaran wake up at

the crack of dawn every morning to

the voices of the muezzin from the

neighboring village of Halimjan.

The two villages are separated by

the Akhuryan river, which serves

as the Armenian-Turkish boundary.

“Of course it disturbs us,” said

Gevorg Margaryan, the head of

Bagaran village.

Bagaran is one of the oldest settlements

in Armenia. It was founded

by King Yervand, the last of the Yervandunis,

in the 3rd century B.C.E.

It was here that King Yervand, or

Orontes, transported pagan idols

from Armavir, constructed pagan

temples, and appointed his brother

as high priest.

For centuries – actually until

1920 – Bagaran was spread along

the right and left banks of the

Akhuryan and also on the left bank

of the Araks River.

“Our forefathers crossed the

Akhuryan twice, once in 1917 and

for the last time in 1920, never to

return,” said Mr. Margaryan.

At the beginning of the 20th century,

Bagaran had about 800 residents.

To escape from the Turkish

massacres, the residents of Bagaran

crossed the left bank of the

Akhuryan River. When the first

Armenian republic was created in

1918 and the territories expanded,

the Bagarantsis returned to the

right bank. At that time, Bagaran

was part of the district of Surmalu.

After the loss of the republic,

the Western Armenian regions of

Surmalu and the region of Kars,

along with the rest of the territories

of Western Armenia, became

part of Turkey.

The apricots are


“Today the village has 610 resident.

Apricots grow very well here. We

are primarily employed in agriculture

and dairy farming,” the village

head explained.

After the fall of the Yervanduni

Kingdom, Bagaran lost its shine

and splendor and for almost a

thousand years is not mentioned.

In the 9th century, Bagaran is once

again mentioned and the first king

of the Bagratunis, Ashot I, proclaimed

Bagaran the capital of the


It was only a few years ago that

one had to get special permission

from Armenia’s national security

and border forces to travel to the

oldest capitals of Armenia, Bagaran

and Yervandashat. But today,

that checkpoint has been removed

and all those who wish to go and

visit these glorious sites, including

diaspora Armenians and tourists,

can now do so.

Before traveling down to Bagaran

and Yervandashat, it is necessary

to stop at a certain distance and

look at the breathtaking scenery

from above. This is the Yeraskhadzor

Valley, where the Araks and

Akhuryan rivers mix together.

Yervandashat is only one kilometer

away from Bagaran. It was

the last capital of the Yervanduni

Kingdom, taking over from Armavir.

The city, which is spread over

the two banks of the Araks River,

used to have a vibrant population.

Yervandashat was destroyed in the

4th century C.E. by the forces of the

Persian King Shabuh.

Today, Yervandashat is a village

of 825 residents. Since the collapse

of the Soviet Union, the village

has only ever had one village head,

Hovan Avetisian.

“I have been the village head since

1991 and I don’t belong to any political

party. Those who live in Yervandashat

are natives to this village,

but we also have residents from

Verin Sasnashen and Sarnaghpyur

of the region of Talin. The people

here grow fruit trees and keep cattle

– cows and sheep. The village is

about 4,000 hectares but only 10

percent of it is used in agriculture,”

Mr. Avetisian said.

The village head recalled how in

Soviet times, Yervandashat was a

very closed-off place. To come here

one needed to go through several

government departments to get

the necessary permission. After

Armenia’s independence, diaspora

Armenians expressed great interest

in visiting Bagaran and Yervadashad.

However, these villages continued

to remain difficult places to

visit, once again tied off because of

the different papers one needed to


“In 2001, during the ceremonies

commemorating the 1700th anniversary

of the adoption of Christianity,

initially there was an intention

of including these two villages

in the formal program of activities

because there are many historic

sites in the two historic capitals

at the point where the Araks and

Akhuryan rivers meet. There is the

fortress of Queen Parantsem, the

grave of Gevorg Marzpetuni, which

is right on the banks of the Araks

River, but on the Turkish side,” Mr.

Avetisian explained.

For two years, a group of archaeologists

have been working in Yer-



Sosker t

vandashat and they have already

discovered remains from the palace

of King Yervand, right on the +



banks of the Araks.

K arakhan

Kechut +

“There is a program + being + developed

with the U.N., so that some of


Lake Kechut

the homes in the villages will


+ have

Poldr van

the ability to accept Korek guests, tourists

and diaspora Armenians M. Argina and to


welcome them with freshly baked


lavash from the tonir,” Mr. Oghuz Avetisian


Gyulveran + Bashgetikler


+ +


The village head is convinced + +



Bagaran and Yervandashat represent

a great historical value. There-


M. Yerablur

fore today, when there is no longer



any restriction or difficulty + in visiting

this region, which is only



kilometers from Yerevan, it will A N no


Ani Cathedral


doubt be a place of great Maghasberd interest

for tourists.


K alus



Where the Araks

and Akhuryan

and Armenia

and presentday


– meet. Armenian

Reporter map ©

2009 Armenian

Reporter LLC.















Ar tagers


Artagers Mon. Halimjan

+ Bagaran



Geghiart Canyon





³íßáõï Tavshut


+ Shorag yal





+ Hak



Hin Argina



T ikhnis Yerazgavors +



Argina Mon.







Par val







Shirakavan +





Karmirvank Mon.



K armir vank

Nor Kyank



Hayreniats ARTIK



+ +





Haritch N







Hari M




Pemzashen Mon.







+ St. Arakelahimn Mon

+ Jrapi



Horomos Mon.


Haykadzor +





Dzit'hankov +



Hogevank Mon.


An ancient khatchkar or cross stone +




the side Nor of Artik the road. +


+ +











M. Sevsirt

+ +



Yereruyk Mon.






+ Shgharshik



Areg +



+ Irind


M. Metz Arteni


Gyalto 2047


+ Verin Sasnashen



Davtashen +

Nerkin Sasnash

Satanidar Settl.



Ghabaghtapa +


+ Ashnak




Ar tavut


M. Tek







M. Yeghnasar






Lake Bughdashen









Yervandashat M. Karmirblur



+ +







Selav Mastara



Surb Mari (Surmalu)




Lake Madatapa

Shirak Ch.





































M. Kechut


Karakhach Pass.


Armavir Great Channel


Nor Armavir















Nor Kesaria Shenavan

Nor Art


Berkashat +



Nerkin Arabkir


C havush










The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009 17


In five years, Armenia, Iran to be connected by rail

If this ambitious



Armenia could have

a passage through

the ports of the

Persian Gulf

by Tatul Hakobyan

YEREVAN – High-ranking officials

from Armenia and Iran are giving

assurances that in five years’ time

there will be a railroad linking the

two countries. According to preliminary

calculations, the railroad

will stretch for approximately 470

kilometers, with 410 of those on

Armenian territory. The total cost

of this undertaking is expected to

run about $1.2 billion.

An agreement will be signed by

Armenia and Iran sometime this

month when President Serge

Sargsian is expected to be in Tehran

for an official visit. On April 3

Armenia’s minister of transportation,

Gurgen Sargsian, and Iran’s

transport and communications

minister, Hamid Behbahani,

signed a memorandum of understanding

in this regard.

Armenia, which is currently

under blockade from the west by

Turkey and from the east by Azerbaijan,

had a rail link with Iran during

the Soviet era. The line began

in Yerevan and continued along the

banks of the Araks River, through

Nakhichevan in the Azerbaijani

republic, stretching all the way to

Julfa. From there the railroad cut

across the Araks River by bridge to

Jolfa station in Iran. From there

was connected to the Iranian railroad

grid. This was the flattest and

shortest route: 200 km from Yerevan

to the Iranian border.

Mountainous terrain

With passage through Nakhichevan

blocked, the new rail link will have

to be built across high mountain

ranges – through the provinces of

Vayots Dzor and Syunik. The exact

route through Armenian territory

has not yet been mapped out. At a

press conference with his Iranian

counterpart, Mr. Gurgen Sargsian

said it would be preferable to have

the railroad run from the basin of

Sevan toward Jermuk. Built during

the Soviet era, there is today a

working railroad from Yerevan all

the way to the western basin of Sevan,

the city of Vardenis. The portion

of the railroad to be built on

Iranian territory must run to the

city of Marand.

Ministers Sargsian and Behbahani

said that the railroad will be

built in three stages. In the first

stage, technical and financial studies

will be carried out. This stage will

require three months. The second

stage will be determining the route

of the railroad and the drafting of

maps. The third stage will involve

the actual construction. The ministers

foresee that this project will

take up to five years to complete.

The sides expect to secure financing

for this project through large

banks. “Negotiations for financing

have already begun with the World

Bank and the Asian Development

Bank,” Minister Sargsian said.

If the construction of this ambitious

railroad becomes a reality,

then Armenia will not only be connected

to its neighbor Iran through

a rail link, but will be able to have

transportation routes all the way to

the Persian Gulf and through this

Argina Mon.

Horomos Mon.

Khoshavank Mon.





Kaputkogh fort.

Yereruyk Mon.


Vahramaberd fort.

Marmashen Mon.

Kumayri fort. GYUMRI





Satanidar - paleolithic



Haritchavank Mon.

Hogevank Mon.


Amberd fort.

Tegher Mon.

have routes to neighboring regions

and states in Central Asia, the Middle

East, India, and China.

Armenia’s railroads belong to a

Russian company. The full management

of Armenia’s railroad, lately

renamed the South Caucasian Railway,

was given to Russian Railways

for a period of 30 years. Since 2001

the Armenian railroad has been

a profitable operation, primarily

transporting cargo from Armenia

to Georgia all the way to the Black

Sea ports of Batumi and Poti and


Russian Railways promised to

invest $570 million in Armenia’s

railways. It has already stated, however,

that it will not finance the Armenia-Iran

initiative. The Russians

will use Azerbaijan’s territory for

their railway communication with


A geopolitically

significant project



Monument complex






Lmbatavank Mon.






Metzamor - metallurgical

and observatorian complex

(4-3 th. B.C.)




Saghmosavank Mon.

Ohanavank Mon.









Abel Aghabegians, a well-known

economist and academician said

last October that the fundamental

issue surrounding the construction

of the Armenia-Iran railroad would

be whether the sides would be able

to guarantee the required amount

of cargo transport to justify the

cost. He suggested that perhaps it

would have preferable to renovate

and shorten the distance of the Armenia-Iran

automobile highway by

building a few tunnels at a fraction

of the cost. Mr. Aghabegians said

that the cost of building this railroad

could skyrocket to $2 billion because

it would have to be built across

treacherous territory. He hinted

that perhaps the geopolitical significance

of the Armenia-Iran railroad

outweighs its economic benefits.

During the Soviet era, Armenia

had several rail links with Azerbaijn.

Cargo and passenger trains operated

between Yerevan and Baku

(this route passed along the banks

of the Araks River all the way to


























Khor Virap










Kecharis Mon.








Sanahin Mon.




Haghpat Mon.














Kirants Mon.

Makaravank Mon.


national park



Geghard Mon.


Havuts Tar Mon.

St.Stepanos Mon.





lake Parz




Lastiver rock

Goshavank Mon.


Sevan Mon.


national park

Geghi fort.

l a k e



Sulem karavansaray


Varagavank Mon.



Noravank Mon.


SEVAN national park



Julfa, then back through Armenian

territory at Meghri, and back once

again into Azerbaijan) and Ijevan

to Baku. The Yerevan-Kapan line

also passed through the territories

of Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan.

The Yerevan-Baku and the Ichevan-

Baku lines carried 80 percent of

Armenia’s cargo.
















Tsakhats Kar Mon.

Hermon Mon.











St.Gevorg Mon.

Vanevank Mon.

Karmirvank Mon.

Darashamb Surb

Stepanos Mon.


Gndevank Mon.

Hazarabyurats Mon.








Makeniats Mon.

Surb Khach Mon.




Hreshtakapetats Mon.



Amenaprkich Mon.

Amenayn Srbots Mon.

Yernjak fort.


Tzaghkotsavank Mon.


Charekavank Mon.


Tanahat Mon.

Surb Nshan



Tzara Astvatzatzin Mon.



Astvatzatzin Mon.


St.Tovma Mon.


Levonaberd fort.

Shoghavank Mon.





(4 th. B.C.)


Vorotnavank Mon.

Tatev Mon.


Dadivank Mon.

Halidzor fort.










Baghatskar Mon.

Arakelots Mon.

Tztiternavank Mon.

Goris and



Bgheno Noravank Mon.

Kajkert Mon.

Khatravank Mon.

Gandzasar Mon.

Astvatzatzin Mon.

Yeritsvank Mon.

During that period, Armenia

also had rail links with Turkey at

the Gyumri-Kars line, which like

the other rail links to Azerbaijan,

are no longer in operation because

of the 20-year-old blockade. The

Yerevan-Tabriz rail line has also

been under blockade because a

portion of that line passes through












Horekavank Mon.

Yeghishe Arakyal

Gyulistan fort.


MRAV mnt


Sarsang res.





Kachaghakaberd fort.









Krvaberd fort.

Dzoravank Mon.




Vankasar Mon.

Amutegh Mon.




Shushi fort.



Mayraberd fort.

"We and our Mountains"

Katarovank Mon.

Tovmasaberd fort.

Gtchavank Mon.

Aghjkaberd fort.

Azokh cave




Khudaperin bridges


Armenia’s and Nagorno-Karabakh’s railways. The borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan are closed. The only operating international rail link is with Georgia. Armenian

Reporter map © 2009 Armenian Reporter LLC.


Amaras Mon.



Nakhichevan. For the past 17 years,

Armenia also hasn’t had rail connection

with Russia because a portion

of that rail line passes through

separatist Abkhazia in Georgia.

That rail line, which is known as

the Abkhazian railroad, has been

under blockade by the Georgians

since 1992.


18 The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009



the armenian


A test of Turkey’s professed goodwill

The extra-large and extra-bold headline could have been, “Obama, in Turkey, affirms the

Armenian Genocide.” The subheads would have noted the Turkish and Armenian reaction.

During his visit to Turkey, President Obama did not speak explicitly of the Armenian

Genocide, although he did confirm that his views on the subject, which are “on the record,”

have not changed. It is unfortunate that he did not take the opportunity to share his views

with his Turkish hosts, as “close friends” – just as he shared his views on difficult topics like

Turkey’s accession to the European Union with his hosts in the European Union earlier in

the week, “as close friends of both Turkey and Europe.”

What Mr. Obama did say, however, was significant.

First, he expressed hope that the Turkish and Armenian people “can move forward

and deal with a difficult and tragic history.” This can only be taken to mean that the

Turkish people must come to terms with the facts of the Armenian Genocide. These

facts include the state’s organized effort to annihilate the Armenian people, as well as

heroic tales of Turks, Kurds, Americans, and others helping save lives. Unfortunately,

President Abdullah Gul, with Mr. Obama at his side, did little to take that process forward.

He put forth the classic – and patently dishonest – version of history espoused by

Turkish state historians.

Second, Mr. Obama told the Turkish parliament, “the United States strongly supports

the full normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia.” He said “an open border

would return the Turkish and Armenian people to a peaceful and prosperous coexistence

that would serve both of your nations.”

This message differs from ritual calls for reconciliation. It is an explicit call for Turkey to

open the border with Armenia, which it closed unilaterally 16 years ago. By calling for “full

normalization,” Mr. Obama is also asking Turkey to finally agree to establish diplomatic relations

with Armenia – which Armenia has all along been willing to do.

It now remains to be seen how Turkey will respond to Mr. Obama’s clear – and entirely

reasonable – call for action. It will be a test of the goodwill professed by the Turkish authorities.

The soccer ball

Responding to a question posed by the Armenian Reporter’s Tatul Hakobyan, President Serge

Sargsian of Armenia on April 10 insisted that the ball is now in Turkey’s court, “and if we are

talking about soccer diplomacy, then we must state that the ball cannot constantly be on one

side of the field and each soccer match has a predetermined time frame.”

The current round of Armenian-Turkish talks started with an invitation to a September

2008 soccer match in Yerevan. Mr. Sargsian has agreed to a reciprocal invitation from Mr.

Gül for the Armenia-Turkey match in Kayseri in October 2009. The question is whether he’ll

go over an open border, with the new Armenian ambassador to Turkey in tow. f

Easter greeting from Archbishop Hovnan Derderian

Burbank, Calif. – “Christ is Risen from the

dead, Blessed is the Resurrection of Christ”

The Resurrection of Christ our Lord, which

provides spiritual strength in our lives as

Christians, is the ultimate expression of

Divine Love for humanity. This glorious triumph

of Christ over death graces us continually

with a renewed understanding of our

Christian faith. This biggest miracle of all enables

us to transform our God-given life into

a renewed, deeper spiritual life. The Resurrection

is the powerful presence of Almighty

God in our lives.

The glorious Resurrection of Christ our

Lord is the reawakening of the Church. Indeed,

the ineffable divine power of Christ’s

Resurrection is difficult to understand in

mere words or logic, but could be experienced

in the spiritual life of each and every faithful

and the life of the Church. The Resurrection

empowers us to live the Word of God in our

daily lives and come closer to God.

“Christ is Risen from the dead, Blessed is the Resurrection

of Christ”

By proclaiming that Christ is Risen from

the dead we reject the deeds of darkness in

our lives and turn our lives toward the empowering

Light of God. Our forefathers have

lived with this Faith and have taught us to

live a life pleasing to God; a life that upholds

the Christian faith, protects the sanctity of

family, builds houses of worship and schools.

This faith is complemented with our dedication

to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin

and Armenia, and above all, our country the

United States of America.

The mystery of the blessed Resurrection of

Christ our Lord ought to be reflected in the

life of society. Inspired by the victorious Resurrection

we are called to become the good

hands of Almighty God with a strong vision.

If humanity has lost the vision of peace, the

main reason is human greed and disrespect

to our fellow human beings. The global financial

crisis that societies all over the world

are experience is but one dimension of this.

As expressed by the newly elected head of

the Russian Orthodox Church, His Holiness

Patriarch Kyril: “Today, decisions have been

affected by attributes such as greed, loss of

control over consumption, a bid to enrich

oneself by all means and have as much as

possible… The crisis began when people forgot

true value.”

The blessed Resurrection of Christ our Lord

impels us to live a miraculous life, to create

and to illuminate the souls of humanity.

I believe in the resurrection of the body

“Christ is Risen from the dead, Blessed is the Resurrection

of Christ”

May the miracle of the Resurrection of

Christ enrich our personal and communal

life, so that we may put on the new person in

Christ and walk with God, becoming co-helpers

of God’s creation and to bring up our children

with the mystery of the sanctified life.

May the miracle of the Resurrection of

Christ grant us the vision to become the

living Church through the preaching of the

Word of God, and working hard for the revitalization

of the Church.

Our faith in the Resurrection of Christ implies

that we all are the living stones of the

Church, thus we are challenged to begin a

new life in making God the destiny of our life

and above all to see the new life beyond the

horizon, in the hand of God.


Bishop Manuel Batakian

New York – “Since we have become one with

him in dying as he did, in the same way we shall

be one with him by being raised to life as he was”

(Rom 6,5).

Our Christian faith commands that we believe

not only in the Resurrection of Christ

but in our own resurrection as well. At first

glance we sense that it is not so easy to profess

such a faith. Indeed it is different - and

natural - to believe in the Resurrection of

Christ, given that He is God, the Lord of life

and death, whose power has no limit, and it

is yet another thing to believe in the resurrection

of a human being, who by definition

is mortal, therefore subject to annihilation, if

not spiritually, then at least bodily.

And yet, every time that we profess the

Creed, we proclaim publicly that our resurrection,

soul and body, is an essential part of our

faith. But to what extent we are convinced

of it, in practical terms, when we are making

that profession, that is another question.

We cannot doubt God’s ability to keep

eternally immortal the souls He himself

created as immortal. But is it required for

Him give the same privilege to the body,

whuxh came from dust and will return to

dust, as we read in the Scriptures

It is normal and logical that from time to

time the issue of the resurrection of the body

comes into our minds, especially when we,

as Christians, are preparing to celebrate the

Resurrection of Christ, because these two realities

are indissolubly linked to one another.

If we believe that Christ has risen, we cannot

ignore or deny that we too will rise .

And the reason is evident, and founded on

the word of Christ himself. Either we accept

the words of Christ completely, or we do not.

Now, we hear him saying : “I am telling you

the truth... Do not be surprised, the time will

come when all the dead will hear the voice

of the Son of God and will come out of their

graves; those who have done good will rise

and live, and those who have done evil will

rise and be condemned (John 5, 25-28).

Yet there is a great temptation in taking

these words of Christ, and thus the meaning

of our Resurrection, in a metaphoric or

symbolic sense, as if to say: yes, there is a

resurrection of mankind, there is also a second

life, but in spirit, not in body. The spirit is

holy, the body is sinful. The first deserves to

survive, not the latter.

This doubt, or distrust, arises in the minds

of some for these reasons:

First, can we reasonably expect that God

gives life back to us mortals So doing. in

some way, we are even doubting God‘s power.

We see in the Holy Bible the manifestation

of Almighty God from the first moment

of creation: Scripture is a uninterrupted

succession of miracles. These miracles take

on a pivotal role in the earthly mission of

Jesus. The healing of the sick, the multiplication

of bread, the calming of storms, the

raising from the dead... what signs or proofs

of divine power can there be stronger than

these He who created the world from nothing,

who raised from death not only others

by also Himself, should He not be able to

create all his creatures again

The second argument is that it is difficult

to imagine what form or shape our body will

take in coming to life again.: will it have the

same physical characteristics, the same intellectual

and spiritual qualities as it has in the

present life

The theologians describe in different ways

what our bodies will be like in a second life,

confessing nevertheless that no one can fully

know the exact reality, because the only

source of our knowledge, the Holy Scriptures,

does not give us any information about it.

God certainly wants to keep the mystery

alive until our encounter with him.

Following their logic, biblical scholars

imagine the raised bodies as being endowed

with the highest qualities, even corporeally,

because the souls will join these ‘glorified’

bodies and become one with them. This conviction

is shared by St. Augustine who says

that we will be in heaven ‘as we are’, we will

keep our identity, but in sublime, perfect proportions.

We will find ourselves in a universe

where we will see God face to face, without

any intermediary or interpreter.

It is impossible to separate the Resurrection

of Christ from our own. Christ did not

triumph over death for Himself but in order

to save us from the clutches of death. St.

Paul is categorical on this point: if Christ

did not rise from the dead, our entire faith

would be disrupted and reduced to nothing.

And our earthly life would turn to an existence

without goal and meaning.

The resurrection of Christ is neither a legend

nor an illusion. It is an irrefutable reality

sealed by the blood of myriads of witnesses.

It is at the same time the foundation of our

hope that we will share his glory thanks to

our own resurrection.


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The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009 19


You are witnesses of these things

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian

New York – He said to them, “These are my

words which I spoke to you, while I was still with

you, that everything written about me in the

law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms

must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds

to understand the scriptures, and said to them,

“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer

and on the third day rise from the dead, and

that repentance and forgiveness of sins should

be preached in his name to all nations, beginning

from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these

things.” (St. Luke 24:44-48)

The new life

After the bitterness of winter, after the

self-restraint of Lent, after the intense emotions

of Holy Week, one encounters Easter

with a sense of relief. Resurrection Sunday

is, after all, the soaring finale to a harrowing

story - the happy ending we’ve been waiting

for. Ahead of us, we might feel, lies a bright

horizon, free of troubles, where everything

will be set right.

This is not just a matter of our own perception:

the gospels affirm that something

profound and final occurred in the drama of

Christ’s death and return to life. “The earth

did quake, the rocks rent, the graves were

opened,” we read; “the saints which slept

arose, and coming out of their graves after

his resurrection, went into the holy city, and

appeared to many” (Mt 27:51-53). Even the

righteous dead arise, to testify to the magnitude

of what has occurred. One can hardly

imagine a more “final” statement. Where

could the story possibly go from there

Yet, as we know, the story did go on - and

not just as a continuation of Scripture. The

story continued in history. We inhabit its latest

page, and from our vantage we can see

that the resurrection of Jesus Christ - assuredly

the most important and wondrous turning

point in history - was not history’s end. In

a scene of piercing sadness, Jesus warned his

followers not to make the mistake of thinking

that his sufferings would spell an end

to troubles for mankind. Staggering to the

cross, trailed by a company of wailing women,

Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters

of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep

for yourselves, and for your children.... For

if they do these things to a green tree, what

shall be done to the dry” (Lk 23:29-31).

In such words, one sees that Christ’s life

and passion, while serving redemptive purposes

all their own, were at the same time

encapsulations, concentrations, of the human

condition overall. What was once the

lonely burden of mortal man - the misery

of every person who has suffered injustice,

who has seen his friends desert him, his

loved ones endangered on his account, his

world reduced to ashes - all of these troubles,

were shared, embraced even, by our

Lord in his journey to the cross. In Jesus,

the blessings of life surely take on greater

meaning for us, as glimpses of a kingdom

yet to come; but his words leave no doubt

that the sorrows of human living will never

cease to be ours, as well.

As Armenians, we instinctively know this

- and we have certainly lived it. We saw the

blessed evangelization of Armenia; but also

a costly defense of the first Christian nation

at Avarayr. We saw the flowering of a distinctive

Armenian culture and identity; but also

knew exile and subjection to alien powers.

We welcomed a new political reality which

would allow us to advance in society; but we

also endured the Genocide.

Yet if our experience and theology comprehend

this aspect of Christ’s sacrifice, they

comprehend a larger meaning, as well. To

be sure, the resurrection does not promise

us an easy life, free of troubles. But it does

promise that the monotonous cycles of security

and suffering, of prosperity and poverty,

are not in the end meaningless. The world

will remain a mix of blessings and afflictions,

as it always has; but in Christ, there really

will be a final state of peace, where “God will

wipe away every tear,” and all things will be

made new again (Rev 21:4-5).

Even for the disciples who lived alongside

Jesus, these things were difficult to understand.

We are told that Christ had to “open

their minds” to help them grasp what they

had seen. But having done so he also charged

them with the duty of remembering, and of

acting on that memory. “You are witnesses of

these things,” he told them.

He tells it to us, too. Every year, in our Easter

celebration, we see the miracle of Christ’s


Karekin II


the ritual

washing of

the feet in


on Great

and Holy




resurrection re-enacted, re-lived, before

our eyes. We see life emerge from the grave,

hope emerge from despair. We are reminded

of that final, peaceable kingdom, where our

hearts will find rest; and of the painful sacrifice

that purchased it for us.

We are reminded, too, that a foretaste of

God’s kingdom exists here on earth, in the

Church our Lord established. Especially in an

anxious, uncertain time, the church needs to

be The Church: it needs to nourish its mission

as a witness - it needs to act as a witness to

Christ’s resurrection. We will have a chance to

do so again, when we sing our Easter greeting:

Krisdos haryav ee merelotz! Orhnyal eh harootiunun

Krisdosee! Christ is risen from the

dead! Blessed is the resurrection of Christ!

This year, let us sing these words with

the conviction of those who first saw our

risen Lord, who touched his wounds, and

responded to the miracle of his resurrection.

For in the deepest sense, we, too, are

witnesses of these things.


Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan

New York – ...we have been buried with him

by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ

was raised from the dead by the glory of the

Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

-Romans 6:4-5

Christ’s eternal presence in the world and

in our hearts became humankind’s possession

because of His Resurrection. The first

witnesses to that Resurrection were His disciples

and followers. They transmitted to us

what they saw to which they gave witness

with dedication and faith, and for which they

paid with torture and martyrdom.

The miracle that we try to understand

on Easter is considerably above the human

mind and logic. When we believe and live

accordingly, then a new person is born within

us, who enters into a new life and a new

way of life with Christ. The most convincing

statement is made by the Apostle Paul when

he says, “If we have been united with him in

a death like his, we will certainly be united

with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans

6:5). Our defeat of sin mysteriously occurs

with our baptism, after which as a new creature-this

time as a faithful Christian-we live

enjoying the grace that one day will take

us to our resurrected life. Our life is the

grace given to us by God and our salvation

is God’s expressed love. Salvation is not our

own doing; it is the gift of God. (Eph 2:8)

Therefore, this new life has a message

for us. First, it is our prime duty to be

cleansed internally. This takes place when

we kill sin in us, for which our Lord sacrificed

His life. As long as we remain in sin,

we remain slaves of sin through out desire,

our greed, our ego which repels us from all

humankind created in our image. On the

contrary, we must go to all, have compassion

and love, serve and help them, so that

the sinner in us will not rule, but rather

Christ Himself. “For we are what he has

made us, created in Christ Jesus for good

works, which God prepared beforehand to

be our way of life” (Eph 2:10).

Second, after destroying the sinner in us,

it is our duty to gain new life. In order to

gain that life, we must sacrifice our life, if

necessary, just as Christ sacrificed His life

to give us new life. There is no greater proclamation

than that of the Apostle Paul, “For

to me, living is Christ and dying is gain (Phil

1:21). Blessed are those who can gain that life,

a life filled with love, enlightened by sacrifice

and enriched by service.

May Christ’s miraculous Resurrection be a

message and reminder to us all that in order

to live with Him we must completely cleanse

ourselves, destroy sin, in order to be worthy

of salvation, His grace, new life, and our

unity with Him.

Christ is risen from the dead. Blessed is the

resurrection of Christ.


The resurrection of our Lord brings renewal to our lives

Archbishop Moushegh


La Crescenta, Calif. –

“Christ is risen from the dead!

He trampled down death by death,

and by His resurrection He granted life to us.

Glory to Him for all ages. Amen.” (Hymn)

The enlivening spirit of rebirth and renewal

resonates throughout the world once again

as we Christians prepare to celebrate Christendom’s

greatest and most important feast,

the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord Savior

Jesus Christ, and join together to exclaim

“Christ is risen from the dead! Alleluia.

Come ye peoples, sing unto the Lord! Alleluia.”


The Resurrection of our Lord brings to us a

profound message of rebirth and renewal. It

starts with death, the crucifixion and entombment

of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, and ends

with life, the Glorious Resurrection on Easter

Sunday. It is the conquering of death and the

dawn of a new life, a reassurance that good

will always triumph and hope will abound.

It is very fitting that Easter comes in

springtime, a season marked by the blossoming

of life when the dark, harsh winter ends

and the sun shines bright again. We witness

the workings of nature with the death of the

old and the birth of the new. As we too undergo

this natural cycle of life, we will not

be facing an end, but beginning a new life, a

rebirth into a new state, for the Resurrection

gives us this promise, “He saves us through

the washing of rebirth and renewal by the

Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously

through Jesus Christ our Savior, so

that, having been justified by His grace, we

might become heirs having the hope of eternal

life” (Titus 3:5-7).

One need not die physically to experience

resurrection. The broader message of the

Resurrection is that after pain and suffering

comes redemption and hope. Many times

in life we are overcome with obstacles, but

these obstacles are just steps, passages to

achieving enlightenment. Jesus Christ had

to die on the cross to be resurrected, as St.

Peter proclaims, “Blessed be the God and Father

of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according

to His abundant mercy has begotten us again

to a living hope through the resurrection of

Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3-4).

The promise of the Resurrection raises us

from the depths of our darkest hours by giving

us freedom from our burdens, granting

us strength, and hope for a renewed heart, a

renewed soul, and a renewed life.

Dear faithful,

Easter is an awakening; a time of revitalization

and rejuvenation.

It is a spiritual rebirth, a journey towards a

higher purpose that starts internally within

ourselves when we accept Jesus Christ as our

Savior with an open and pure heart, a journey

whose significance cannot be overstated for

in the words of our Savior, “Most assuredly, I

say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot

see the kingdom of God” (John 3:1-3).

The Easter message is for all mankind. It is

a transformative message that is needed now

more than ever in a world that has become

more despondent. The Resurrection of our

Lord is a miraculous gift that restores faith to

the faithless and gives hope to the hopeless;

it allows us to pass from death to a life, from

despair to optimism, and invites us to be reborn

to be worthy of His abundant blessings

and promises.

Two thousand years ago Jesus brought

His Light to the world. That light still shines

brightly as a call to faith, love, and hope and

it is just as, if not more, inspiring and meaningful


For centuries, our ancestors not only comprehended

the mystery and awe of the Resurrection

they lived it through their faith

and deeds, thus renewing the life and spirit

of the Armenian people and nation.

As His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the

Great House of Cilicia, has proclaimed 2009

the “Year of the Youth”, let us heed this call

to pay special attention to the needs of our

youth. Let us impart to them the uplifting

and life-giving message of the Resurrection

and commit ourselves to their spiritual

nourishment and development not just during

this time but throughout the year. Let

us bridge our youth to our religious and national

heritage and through them, and for

them, renew and reinvigorate our mission for

the survival and prosperity of our Church

and nation.

Let us reflect on the Easter tidings of love,

hope, faith, and renewal, reaffirm our faith,

and undergo spiritual rebirth and revival to

live a richer and deeper quality of life.

Emboldened by the message of the Resurrection,

let us “put on the new man who is

renewed in knowledge according to the image

of Him who created him” (Col. 3:10), and

allow the good tidings of this glorious Feast

to lift us to new life and new heights.

With these sentiments, let us pray for

the Lord to “Create in me a clean heart, O

God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”

(Psalms 51:10).

We extend our best wishes to our Clergy,

Executive Council, Delegates, parish representatives,

educators, sister organizations,

our faithful parishioners, and to all those

who labor for the splendor of our Church and

nation, and join you in proclaiming,

“Christ is risen from the dead.

Blessed be the Resurrection of Christ.” f

20 The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009

The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009

The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009

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