National, International, Armenia, and Community News and Opinion

reporter.am

National, International, Armenia, and Community News and Opinion

The Aravod

band goes

forth

See story on page C3 m

Seeing the

world in red,

blue and

orange

See story on page 10 m

Celebrating St.

Sarkis with salty

cookies and

horse amulets

See story on page 17 m

Eastern U.S. Edition

Number 100

February 7, 2009

the armenian

reporter

Construction on the Arzni-Shamiram waterway, Jan. 29, 2009. Photo: Armen Hakobyan for the Armenian Reporter.

U.S. Millennium Challenge

program is rebuilding

Armenia’s waterways

Five-year infrastructure program is at halfway mark

Visit us at the new reporter.am

See story on page 1 m


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009


Number 100

February 7, 2009

Community

Armenian artists to join Global Soul 2009

Storyteller Alidz Agbabian and

musician Arto Tuncboyaciyan will

join artists from around the world

on February 26, when Jewish

World Watch will host Global Soul,

an evening of music, culture, and

genocide awareness at the Skirball

Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

The event will honor Rabbi M.

Schulweis, co-founder of JWW, for

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip

Erdogan’s public squabble with

Israeli president Shimon Peres was

welcomed in Turkey and the rest of

the Middle East, but created anxiety

in Israel and the United States.

Turkey has been warned that

“next time” Jews and Israelis “might

not come to Turkey’s aid or equivocate

quite so much on the issue” of

Commentary

Erdogan’s verbal assault pits Turkey against Israel

Community

Armenia

congressional resolutions on the

Armenian Genocide.

But Abraham Foxman of the Anti-

Defamation League told the New

York Times that the league had not

changed its opposition to the Armenian

Genocide bill in Congress.

Emil Sanamyan reports.

See story on page 18 m

In conjunction with Army Day, which is celebrated every year in Armenia on

January 28, a three-day photo exhibit-competition titled, “The Tricolor in My

Eyes,” was held in Yerevan. Photo: Babken Arzumanyan.

See story on page 10 m

With the recent Russian-Ukrainian

row over natural gas, the Nabucco

gas pipeline once again came to the

top of the agenda, with the European

Union continuing to support

the project as a way to diversify its

energy sources. Over the last several

years, pipelines extending from

the Caspian Sea toward Europe

have bypassed the shortest possible

route – through Armenia and

One of Hovhaness Toumanian’s

best known tales, “Paregentan,”

written in 1911 has been enchanting

Armenian children for generations.

In this week’s issue, Betty

Community

Hovhannes Toumanian, “Paregentan”

his lifetime of activism and innovation,

and will celebrate the accomplishments

of JWW during its

first five years.

“I am very happy to be presenting

stories and songs from the

Armenian oral tradition at Global

Soul 2009,” said Ms. Agbabian.

See story on page 8 m

AMAA has raised over $9 million in capital campaign

The Armenian Missionary Association

of America has been celebrating

its 90th anniversary over the past

year. Founded in 1918, the AMAA

was created to serve the physical and

spiritual needs of people everywhere,

both in the United States and abroad.

Last October 18, during the 90th Anniversary

Banquet, Executive Director

Andrew Torigian announced

Community

Armenia and regional energy projects

the public launch of the “Together,

we can build miracles” multiyear

capital campaign. Since fundraising

commenced for this endeavor in August

2007, over $9 million, approximately

two-thirds of the total goal,

has already been committed by leading

supporters of the AMAA.

See story on page 7 m

Nagorno-Karabakh – because both

Azerbaijan and Turkey have been

opposed to Armenia’s participation

in regional projects.

Tatul Hakobyan takes an in

depth look at the complexities surrounding

the Nabucco gas pipeline

scheme, speaking to four leading

Armenian experts.

See story on page 3 m

Panossian-Ter Sarkissian adapts this

classic Toumanian tale for the Armenian

Reporter.

See story on page 17 m

the armenian

reporter

U.S.-funded construction of

Armenia’s waterways proceeds

Five-year

infrastructure

program is at

halfway mark

by Armen Hakobyan

Funds raised in

Dubai for ARF

activities

Leaders of other

parties among

donors

by Tatul Hakobyan

YEREVAN – Benefactors from a

range of organizations joined traditional

constituents in pledging $5

million in support of the Armenian

Revolutionary Federation’s political

activities in Europe (including

Russia), in the Middle East, and

in international organizations, at

a gala benefit held February 2 at

the Intercontinental Hotel-Festival

City Hotel in Dubai. Funds raised at

the event, presided over by Aram I,

Catholicos of the Great House of

A construction crew renovates the badly damaged Arzni-Shamiram canal. Photo:

Armen Hakobyan for the Armenian Reporter.

YEREVAN – Winter is not an optimal

time for construction. However,

the seasonal slowdown in

construction doesn’t apply to Millennium

Challenge Account-Armenia,

which continues with a hectic

work schedule. “For us 2009 is a

very important year. Up until now

we have been taking all the preparatory

steps: studying the projects,

designing them, checking everything.

And now we have started

the construction work full force.

In 2010–11, according to the project,

we must be entirely engaged

in construction,” chief executive

officer Ara Hovsepian said in an

interview with the Armenian Reporter.

Mr. Hovsepian noted that the

U.S.-sponsored five-year project

began its tenth trimester in January,

which means it has reached

its halfway mark. Even in difficult

weather, then, the renovation and

rehabilitation of a 4.2-kilometer

section of the main Arzni-Shamiram

water canal, which began on

January 19, continues. (See story

on page 16.)

“From January to March we are

going to work on the main Arzni-

Shamiram canal, plus, we are going

to restore the engineering structures

of the other canals,” Mr. Hovsepian

said.

The U.S. Millennium Challenge

Corporation’s compact with Armenia

is conditional on Armenia’s

continued eligibility in three major

categories, one of which is democratic

governance. After Armenia’s

presidential election last February,

and the suspension of civil liberties

during a 20-day state of emergency

in March, the corporation signaled

that the program may be suspended

or canceled.

In fact, the corporation in June

halted funding for a major 273 kilometer

roads work contract. The

Armenian government responded

by allocating $16.8 million of its

own resources to proceed with the

initial phase of the road program.

But the corporation has continued

to disburse funds for other parts of

the Armenia compact. Thus, on December

12, 2008, MCA-Armenia requested

approximately $6.8 million

to cover its expenses for the first

three months of 2009. The corporation

in Washington has disbursed

the funds.

“We are engaged in the technical

implementation of the project

and the technical implementation

must be separated from the political

activities, which are taking place

in parallel,” Mr. Hovsepian said.

MCA-Armenia has “a set daily plan

Continued on page 16 m

Armenian advocacy efforts in Europe

and Mideast get $5 million boost

Dubai is the venue for ARF advocacy fund raising.

Cilcia, and attended by hundreds

of supporters, surpassing the proceeds

from previous quadrennial

fundraising banquets held in Geneva

in 2001 and in Paris in 2005.

The Armenian Cause is the shared

agenda of Armenians regardless of

country of residence and political

affiliation, Catholicos Aram said.

Report Card

The MCC funded the complete

restoration of a 24.5-kilometer

section of the Armavir-Isahakian-Gyumri

road at a cost of $4.5

million. The project began in November,

2007 and the road was

put into operation at the end of

December 2008.

Six kilometers of inter-community

irrigation networks

were renovated and restored in

four communities in the Ararat

and Armavir provinces at a cost

of $300 thousand.

As part of the “From Water

to Market” project, 135 agricultural

loans amounting to $1.5

million were disbursed. In the

second phase of the project,

which is to be launched shortly,

$5.5 million in loans will be

made. For the third phase, another

$1.5 million in loans is

planned. To date about 20,000

farmers have received training

through the “From Water to

Market” project.

f

He welcomed the decision of the

Armenian government to continue

pursuing the universal affirmation

of the Armenian Genocide as part

of its foreign policy agenda.

Participants and donors included

Gagik Tsarukian, who heads the

Continued on page m


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009

National

Washington briefing

by Emil Sanamyan

New appointments:

Karabakh U.S. Rep.,

Armenia’s consul in L.A.

Robert Avetisyan has been appointed

the representative of the

Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR)

in the United States, taking over

from Vardan Barseghyan, the

press service of the president of the

republic reported this week.

Robert Avetisyan.

Mr. Barseghyan, who served in

the United States since 1999, has

returned to Stepanakert to become

Karabakh’s deputy foreign minister.

Mr. Avetisyan has been counselor

at NKR’s Office in the United States

since the beginning of 2008. From

1999 on, Mr. Avetisyan has worked

for the Foreign Ministry in Stepanakert.

Sources familiar with the rotation

told the Armenian Reporter

last week that Grigor Hovhannisyan

will replace Armen Liloyan

as Armenia’s consul general in Los

Angeles. Since 2006, Mr. Hovhannisyan

has been executive director

of the Shushi Revival Fund, chaired

by the mayor of Yerevan. (See the

Community pages for events honoring

Mr. Liloyan for his service.)

Power, McFaul to join

Obama White House

Outcry at commissars’ reburial

Armenia furious

over move as some

of the communists

were Armenians.

by Magerram Zeinalov in

Baku and Gegham Vardanian

in Yerevan

The Baku authorities’ removal of

a monument commemorating 26

murdered communists, who included

Armenians, and the reburial

of their remains, has sparked fury

in Armenia.

The 26 Baku commissars were

honored as martyrs by the Soviet

government, which reburied them

in a central Baku park in 1920, having

brought them back from Central

Asia where they were murdered

by the Bolsheviks’ British-backed

rivals.

But independent Azerbaijan has

had an ambiguous relationship to

the commissars, only two of whom

were Azeri, and many blame them

Magerram Zeinalov is an independent

journalist. Gegham Vardanian is an

Internews editor.

Samantha Power.

for involvement in Armenian pogroms

against their ethnic kin in

1918.

They were reburied for the second

time on January 26 with Jewish,

Muslim, and Christian religious

leaders in attendance.

“Having a monument to the 26

commissars, who were mainly Armenians

in the very center of Baku

is the same as if there was a monument

to the SS in the middle of Tel

Aviv,” said Khikmet Gadzhizade,

a former ambassador to Russia and

a senior member of the Musavat

party, which is in opposition to the

government but which supported

the removal.

“The people who were buried there

were participants in terror against

the population of the country, and

guilty of the death of thousands of

Azerbiajanis,” he said.

In fact, only eight of the commissars

were Armenians, the rest having

been Georgians, Jews, Latvians,

and Greeks, besides two Azeris.

But their leader Stepan Shahumian,

a communist legend and ally

of Bolshevik leader Lenin, was Armenian,

casting an ethnic light on

the group as a whole.

They ruled Baku between March

and September 1918, when the city

was taken over by the communists’

Samantha Power, a Harvard professor

and a strong supporter of

U.S. recognition of the Armenian

Genocide, will serve as senior director

for multilateral affairs in President

Barack Obama’s National

Security Council, The Associated

Press reported on January 29.

Ms. Power, 38, was a senior advisor

to the Obama campaign and

member of the president-elect’s

transition team. In her new capacity

she will work on U.S. policy initiatives

in international organizations

on transnational issues such

as human rights. Ms. Power was a

recipient of the Armenian National

Committee of America (ANCA)’s

Freedom Award last September.

Stanford professor and Russia

expert Michael McFaul has been

appointed senior director for Russia

(and presumably other former

Soviet republics) in the National

Security Council, the National Interest

online reported on February

4.

In congressional testimony last

September, Mr. McFaul, 44, urged

a policy of “re-building” democracy

in Russia. Prior to the Russian-

Georgian war, Mr. McFaul told

Russia Today TV that Ukraine’s

and Georgia’s membership in NATO

was “inevitable,” even though it

could take decades.

Obama administration

announces foreign

travel plans

Heeding a longstanding tradition,

Barack Obama will make his first

foreign trip as president to Canada,

on February 19, a month after inauguration,

spokesperson Robert

Gibbs said last week. Other countries

he is expected to visit in the

first two to three months of his

presidency are Mexico, the United

Kingdom (for the April summit on

the financial crisis) and a yet-to-bedetermined

Muslim country.

But Mr. Obama’s immediate priorities

are said to be domestic.

Vice President Joe Biden is set

to play a prominent role on foreign

policy matters in the meantime. He

will be in Germany for the annual

Munich Security Conference, February

6–8, focusing on Russia, Iran,

and Afghanistan.

Mr. Biden is expected to deliver

a keynote address outlining the

new administration’s foreign policy

priorities. He may also use the opportunity

to talk with Russia’s First

Deputy Prime Minister Sergei

Ivanov as well as the president of

Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and

other foreign leaders. Iran will be

represented by Parliament Speaker

Ali Larijani.

political enemies, forcing Shaumian

and his colleagues to flee. They

headed to Astrakhan in southern

Russia but were diverted to what

is now Turkmenistan, where they

were shot.

“Shahumian . . . gave his life in

the first place for today’s Azerbaijan.

And now this degradation of

his memory is complete madness,”

said Ruben Tovmasian, first secretary

of Armenia’s Communist

Party.

“We see this act as the worst kind

of vandalism from Azerbaijan. They

are trying to destroy everything

connected to Armenia. And what’s

more, now they are even starting

to destroy the remains of Bolshevism.”

Mr. Tovmasian said he had spoken

to Azerbaijan’s communists

about the reburial to register his

protest, and they shared his anger.

f

From Institute for War & Peace Reporting.

See the full story at http://www.

iwpr.net/

For more on Stepan Shahumian and

the Baku Commissars, see Ronald Grigor

Suny, The Baku Commune, 1917–18:

Class and Nationality in the Russian

Revolution.

9-11 remembrance wall at Manas air

base in Sept. 2008. Photo: Air Force.

According to an Armenian Reporter

source, Armenia’s President

Serge Sargsian will also attend

the Munich conference, while Azerbaijan

and Georgia are sending foreign

ministers.

It is so far unclear to which

country Secretary of State Hillary

Clinton will visit first, but with

other top officials crowding Europe

and the Middle East, media reports

suggest a trip to East Asia.

U.S. squeezed by Russia

in Central Asia, by Iran

in space

Russia offered massive financial incentives

to Kyrgyzstan, apparently

on the condition that its government

close a U.S. air base on its territory,

news agencies reported. The

base, which takes up a portion of

the Kyrgyz capital’s main airport,

has been there since December

2001, serving to facilitate the delivery

of supplies to U.S. forces in

Afghanistan.

Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek

Bakiyev announced the closure of

the base during a visit to Moscow

this week. Concurrently, Russia announced

a $2 billion aid and loans

package to the country.

Senior U.S. officials were apparently

assured as recently as two

weeks ago that the base would stay

open, and are still hoping to use the

facility for the anticipated “surge”

in U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

At the same time Russian and

Kyrgyz leaders promised to continue

to cooperate with the United

States on stabilizing Afghanistan,

which has seen an increase in

insurgent attacks in the last few

years.

Meanwhile, Iran marked the

30th anniversary of its Islamic

revolution by launching its first

domestically built satellite into

space. U.S. officials expressed concern

over the launch, since the

same technology can also be used

to deliver missiles.

According to RFE/RL, President

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said

Iran’s growing presence in space

is aimed at “expanding monotheism,

peace, and justice.” Iran has

previously launched its satellites

through the Russian and Chinese

space programs.

f

Iran launches a

satellite.

ARF: Javakhk activists not ARF members

Sarkis Hakobjanian and Grigor

Minasian, arrested last month

in Georgia’s Armenian-populated

Javakhk province, are not members

of the Armenian Revolutionary

Federation (ARF), the party’s

Yerevan spokesperson Giro

Manoyan told the Armenian Reporter

this week.

“The ARF does not have organizational

structures in [Samtskhe-

Javakheti] and that means there

are no ARF members there; neither

of those arrested is an ARF

member,” said Mr. Manoyan.

This newspaper identified the

two individuals arrested on espionage,

weapons, and conspiracy

charges as ARF members, citing

published media reports.

Mr. Manoyan nevertheless

criticized the arrests as politically

motivated. He suggested they

were an attempt to divert public

attention away from the Georgian

government’s domestic problems

– including the opposition’s increasingly

vocal calls for Mikheil

Saakashvili’s resignation – and

an effort to “intimidate Javakhk

circles seeking to defend their

constitutional rights.”

“Just before the August war [in

South Ossetia], a similar scenario

was played out in Javakhk, with

shootings, police killings, and arrests

[of Vahagn Chakhalian

and his relatives and associates],”

Mr. Manoyan recalled. “I believe

the expectation then was to provoke

a violent reaction, thus giving

[the Georgian government] a

pretext to crush the local people’s

will. It is very much possible that

there will be further arrests in the

region.”

Mr. Saakahvili has repeatedly

dismissed opposition calls for

early elections. This week, he appointed

Nika Gilauri as Georgia’s

fourth prime minister in fourteen

months.

Mr. Gilauri, 33, has been one

of the longest-serving cabinet officials

since Mr. Saakashvili took

office in 2004, having held energy

and finance portfolios. Mr. Gilauri

replaced Grigor Mgaloblishvili,

35, who cited health reasons for

his departure. Opposition leaders

alleged the health problems arose

after Mr. Saakashvili personally

assaulted his prime minister.

On February 5, the Institute for

War and Peace Reporting (IWPR)

cited a lawyer for the two arrested

men as saying the charges

stemmed with Mr. Minasian’s

and Mr. Hakobjanian’s interaction

with individuals believed to

be Russian intelligence operatives.

f


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009

International


Can Armenia be part of regional energy projects

Nabucco is seen as

one of Europe’s best

hopes for limiting

its dependence on

Russian gas

by Tatul Hakobyan

40 o 42 o 44 o 46 o 48 o 50 o

41 o Sukhumi

Vladikavkaz

Khankala

Makhachkala

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

BLACK SEA

Poti

Kutaisi GEORGIA

Derbent

TBILISI

Batumi

Akhalkalak

39 o

Trapizon

Gyumri

Kars

Gandzak

Erzurum

ARMENIA L.Sevan

YEREVAN

KARABAKH

TURKEY

5165

M. MASIS

STEPANAKERT

NAKHIJEVAN

37 o

Kapan

Nakhijevan

Mush

YEREVAN – Over the last several

years, pipelines extending from

the Caspian Sea toward Europe

have bypassed the shortest possible

route – through Armenia and

Nagorno-Karabakh – because both

Azerbaijan and Turkey have been

opposed to Armenia’s participation

in regional projects. Their opposition

to these projects – including

the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline

and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum

gas pipeline – has come about in

the absence of a final resolution of

the Karabakh conflict.

A “solution” for Azerbaijan and

Turkey entails a return to the status

quo ante, which Armenia has

categorically opposed. Former Foreign

Minister Vartan Oskanian,

putting aside diplomatic language,

once openly stated that Armenia’s

involvement in regional projects

would come with a price tag, which

was Nagorno-Karabakh, and Armenia

would never pay that price.,

The five-day war of August 2008

illustrated that Georgia, which was

seen by the West as the safest transit

country for transporting Caspian

energy, is not a very stable state.

Europe is opposed to transporting

Caspian energy through the two

other routes – a northern route

through Russia and a southern

route through Iran. The concern is

that Russia will use oil and gas as a

political weapon.

With the recent Russian-Ukrainian

row over natural gas, the Nabucco

gas pipeline plan once again came to

the top of the agenda. The European

Union continues to support the project

as a way to diversify energy sources,

European Commission President

Jose Manuel Barroso said in a

video message to the participants in

a Nabucco summit held at the end of

January in Budapest.

“We remain excessively vulnerable

regarding gas delivery to the European

Union and other neighboring

countries. So Nabucco must continue

to move ahead,” Mr. Barroso said.

The Nabucco pipeline, which will

cost more than 8 billion euros to

build, is planned as a way to transport

natural gas from the Caspian

region to Austria. Construction is

expected to begin in 2010 and to

finish by 2014. The pipeline will

have a maximum capacity of 31 billion

cubic meters per year. Nabucco

shareholders are the Austrian OMV,

Hungarian MOL, Bulgarian Bulgargaz,

Romanian Transgaz, Turkish

Botas, and German RWE, with a

16.7 percent stake each.

Euronews, reporting on this issue,

did not exclude the possibility

of Nabucco passing through the

territories of Nagorno-Karabakh

and Armenia.

The main sources of gas for the

Nabucco pipeline are expected to be

Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. The

second stage of the Shah Deniz gas

field in the Caspian shelf of Azerbaijan

will be coming on-stream in

2013. There is an agreement for 8

bcm of natural gas per annum with

further expansion. Turkmenistan

would provide for Nabucco 10 bcm

of gas annually, which could be

transported through Iran or across

the Caspian Sea via the planned

Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline.

The Nabucco gas pipeline project

is not a political issue for Azerbaijan,

but a commercial one, Azerbaijan’s

President Ilham Aliyev said

in an interview with the Hungarian

media, ITAR-TASS reported. “Azerbaijan

supports the project, but its

role in the project is not known

– whether it will be transitory country

or gas supplier,” Mr. Aliyev said.

“Perspectives of the project are

important for Azerbaijan. The

country can partake in many other

projects and on this base it will

make a decision which gas pipeline

is more realistic,” he added, noting

that existing gas pipelines connect

Azerbaijan with Turkey, Georgia,

Iran, and Russia.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU

commissioner for external relations

and European Neighborhood

Policy, during a January 19–22 visit

to the Caucasus, was to “strongly

focus on energy issues and the EU’s

interest in the development of a

southern gas corridor to bring gas

from Azerbaijan and Central Asia

to the EU,” according to her office.

Reinhard Mitschek, the managing

director of the Nabucco

pipeline, told RFE/RL, “the prospects

for the Nabucco gas pipeline

are excellent. Gas consumption in

Europe will increase in the coming

years and decades. At present,

there are three main sources of

gas for Europe – one is Russia, the

second is the North Sea, and the

third is North Africa,” he said. It is

estimated that Europe would need

150–160 billion cubic meters more

gas annually by 2020 and the Nabucco

could provide 31 billion cubic

meters of this need.

On January 19, Turkish Prime

Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

stated that Turkey may withdraw

from the Nabucco project if the

country’s EU accession talks remain

blocked. However, later that same

day he stated that Turkey supports

the Nabucco pipeline and would

never use it as a weapon in political

disputes. “We don’t want to live in

heat when others are freezing,” Mr.

Erdogan said to Mr. Barroso, the

European Commission President,

during a joint press conference in

Brussels.

Mr. Barroso said, “I really believe

that we have here a great field for

cooperation between Turkey and

the European Union. The EU has a

very important market for energy,

Turkey is a crucial country for transit,

also because of its geography,

and I think that there is a win-win

situation here.”

In some European nations, there

is a sense that Russia is a direct

L.Van

threat to the Nabucco project, and

that the Kremlin will do everything

in its power to be the main gas supplier

for Europe.

Top Russian representatives have

expressed doubts as to the feasibility

of the EU-favored pipeline.

“Nabucco could be a monument to

great ambitions and actions not

thought through properly,” Viktor

Zubkov, Russia’s first deputy

prime minister said in Budapest.

Mr. Zubkov is also chairperson of

the board of directors of the gas giant

Gazprom.

Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s ambassador

to the EU, said his country

was not against Nabucco. The

only difference between Nabucco

and the South Stream gas pipeline

from Russia to Turkey via the Black

Sea, he said, is that in the case of

Nabucco “there is no gas to fill the

pipe,” ITAR-TASS reported.

Armenian perspectives

Sevak Sarukhanyan of the Yerevan-based

Noravank Foundation

is an expert in energy issues. He

thinks that there will be no a gas

pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey

passing through Armenia.

“Even if Armenia and Azerbaijan

solve the problem of Nagorno-

Karabakh, they can’t create a real

climate of trust in bilateral relations

during the coming years. In

this case, any kind of expensive

and strategic project like a pipeline

construction can’t be realized between

the two nations,” he told the

Armenian Reporter.

Sergey Minasyan, political scientist

with the Yerevan-based Caucasus

Institute, said, “Theoretically,

of course, it is possible, in particular

if we take into consideration

Georgia’s communication risks after

the five-day war. Besides, the

current phase in Armenian-Turkish

relations also raises certain

hopes. Nevertheless, on the other

hand, the principal and only obstacle

is Azerbaijan’s stance. It is

unlikely that Baku will give its approval

and it seems pointless to

wait if there is no strong external

pressure. If the pressure comes

only from the West, then Baku always

has the opportunity to lean

toward Russia. The latter would be

only too happy to be able to torpedo

the construction of the gas

pipeline in this way,” he said.

Masis Mayilian, president of the

Public Council for Foreign and Security

Policy, based in Stepanakert,

and former deputy foreign minister

of Karabakh, notes that the only

IRAN

CASPIAN SEA

AZERBAIJAN

Bitlis

Van

L.Urmia

Ahar

40 o 42 o 44 o 46 o 48 o 50 o

obstacle is the absence of political

will in Azerbaijan’s leadership.

“And here the efforts of the interested

parties are necessary to

convince the Azerbaijani establishment.

Turkey and other interested

countries can persuade Azerbaijan

to withdraw from its baseless

political ambitions. Whatever the

choice of route for the pipeline, the

investors must consistently push

Azerbaijan’s administration to not

use the profits from Nabucco to

finance a new military aggression

against the Nagorno-Karabakh

Republic. In that case the investors

in the project will bear partial

responsibility for the catastrophic

results of a possible war since, instead

of increasing the well-being

of the region’s population, the profits

gained from their investments

would be used to finance Azerbaijani

aggression,” Mr. Mayilian told

the Armenian Reporter.

From an economic point of view,

running the pipeline though Karabakh

and Armenia is very profitable,

as it is the shortest route, Mr.

Mayilian added.

“Apart from that, it is the safest

and, from a political point of

view, the smartest route, since for

one of the leading players in the

region, Russia, it will be easier to

‘digest’ the fact that Nabucco passes

through the territory of its strategic

ally Armenia, than the Georgian

route,” he said.

Armen Manvelian is an expert

on Caucasian pipelines and a political

scientist with the Yerevan-based

Azg daily. He told the Armenian

Reporter that the true opportunities

of the Nabucco project and the

discussion around it do not correspond

to each other.

“First of all, to date it is not certain

what gas will flow through this

pipeline. If it is Azerbaijani, then

Azerbaijan does not have sufficient

capacity. Apart from that, when

the volume of gas consumption in

Europe is taken into consideration

(about 500 billion cubic meters per

year), it becomes clear that it cannot

have a significant effect on the

market. As far as Central Asian gas

in concerned, then constructing

a gas pipeline under the Caspian

Sea is also highly improbable, and

so the only real alternative for the

Nabucco project can be Iranian gas.

However, in this case there are different

obstacles: U.S.-Iran relations,

Turkey’s stance, the Kurdish issue,

etc,” Mr. Manvelian said.

What is the price, if any, that Armenia

would have to pay for the

BAKU

41 o

39 o

37 o

The Nabucco

project would

take natural gas

from Erzurum to

Austria. Some of

that gas would

come from the

Baku-Tbilisi-

Erzurum pipeline,

which runs in the

same corridor

as the Baku-

Tbilisi-Ceyhan

oil pipeline.

But additional

capacity

is needed.

Additional gas

could flow from

Turkmenistan

or Azerbaijan

through a new

pipeline. The

route shown

through

Karabakh

and Armenia

is among

the options.

Armenian

Reporter map.

gas pipeline to pass through Armenia

and Karabakh

“Truly the price can only be

Karabakh, but just like both expresidents

of Armenia: Levon Ter-

Petrossian and Robert Kocharian,

likewise Serge Sargsian also

will not take that step,” Mr. Minasyan

told the Armenian Reporter.

If the gas pipeline passes though

Armenia, then it is not we who have

to pay them, but they who must

pay us, said Mr. Manvelyan.

“For example the Baku-Ceyhan

pipeline annually brings Georgia

about $50 million in income. In

other words, it does not make a significant

difference to that country’s

economy. Instead that country has

found itself in the middle of a competition

between the West and

Russia with all the consequences

arising from it. The dream of small

states, that they might achieve serious

political clout through such

pipelines, is an illusion. This is a

game in global politics, where the

rules of the game are dictated from

outside and are changed at the

will of the powerful states. And

so, states like Georgia and Armenia

never have the chance to win in

this game; they are constantly the

losers. In other words, it is necessary

to consider whether or not it

is worth it to put our heads on the

block,” Mr. Manvelyan added.

Mr. Mayilian also took the position

that Armenia and Karabakh

need not pay a price.

“If Nabucco passes through the

Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and

Armenia, then all participants in

the project will benefit from that,

and Azerbaijan more so. That country

will get a new chance to export

its energy resources to Europe with

a new, alternative route, which,

apart from being economically

profitable, will allow Azerbaijan to

be politically independent under

stable conditions,” he said.

Besides, Mr. Mayilian thinks the

Nabucco project is very profitable

for Karabakh and Armenia, since

they will gain new allies for securing

peace and stability in the region.

“This group of allies includes investors

in the project, gas exporters,

transit countries, and, finally, the gasconsuming

European countries. Geographically

there are several countries

situated between Central Asia

and Europe. We are not even talking

about the fact that from a political

point of view, the United States is an

interested party in Nabucco’s success,

and therefore, in the stability of the

Southern Caucasus.”

f


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009

International

Armenian advocacy efforts get $5 million boost

n Continued from page

Prosperous Armenia Party, and

Ara Abramyan, who heads the

Union of Armenians of Russia.

Acknowledging the diversity

of the participants in the event,

Hrant Markarian, representative

of the ARF’s governing Bureau, said

the Armenian Cause united people

regardless of their political beliefs.

The Armenian Cause “has united

all of us. Practical work, which is

above day-to-day issues and differences,

has united us. Work, which

is geared to empowering Armenia

and Armenians, to accumulating

and organizing our collective

power, to becoming a factor to be

reckoned with in the world,” said

Mr. Markarian.

Offices in Washington, Brussels,

Moscow, Beirut, and Tbilisi “coordinate

and marshal the efforts of

Armenians and our friends toward

elevating Armenia’s political stature

internationally, securing economic

assistance to Armenia, defending

the rights of the people of

Nagorno-Karabakh, bringing about

international recognition and condemnation

of the Armenian Genocide,

and countering Turkish and

Azerbaijani anti-Armenian propaganda,”

he said.

The Armenian Reporter’s Tatul

Hakobyan asked Giro Manoyan,

director of the ARF Bureau’s Central

Hai Tad and Political Office in

Yerevan, for more details.

Tatul Hakobyan: Why did the

event take place in Dubai

Giro Manoyan: The fundraising

in Dubai was the third such event.

The first was held in 2001 in Geneva;

the second in 2005 in Paris.

The goal of these events was and

is to raise funds for the ARF’s Hai

Tad (Armenian Cause) political activities

in Europe (including Russia

and the CIS) and in the Middle East.

The locations of these events have

been chosen taking this fact into

consideration. The last two events

were held in Europe and it was

time to hold one in the Middle East.

Dubai was chosen for practical purposes,

taking into consideration

the fact that a significant number

of the invitees were from Armenia,

the Middle East, and the Russian

Federation, and visa and flight arrangements

for them are easier to

Dubai.

TH: So the event did not take

place outside Armenia so that official

Yerevan could deny being part

of the effort to secure universal affirmation

of the Armenian Genocide.

(Prime Minister Erdogan of

Turkey claimed just last week, “The

Armenian diaspora is plotting,” but

“the current administration in Armenia

doesn’t take part in this.”)

With Armenia and Turkey engaged

in high-level talks, fundraising in

Armenia for the Armenian Cause

could be viewed badly by Turkey.

Was this a consideration in choosing

Dubai

GM: The ARF holds a lot of its

partywide events – world congresses,

youth camps, Hai Tad Committees’

conferences – in Armenia for

obvious reasons. But these fundraising

events, as I said before, are

specifically for Hai Tad–related

political activities in the diaspora,

specifically Europe and the Middle

East, and the ARF Bureau has decided

to hold these events in the

diaspora.

But, to demonstrate to everyone

that these activities are not only

supported by Armenians in the

diaspora, but also by Armenians

from Armenia, since the 2001 fund

raising, businesspeople from Armenia

as well as from Russia and

Ukraine have been invited. The Geneva

event was the first time ever

that businesspeople from Armenia

Catholicos Aram I offers a blessing at the start of the gala fund raiser.

donated to a project being realized

in the diaspora – in this case, to

the establishment of the Hai Tad

office in Brussels. Furthermore,

the former and current presidents

of Armenia, Robert Kocharian

and Serge Sargsian, have supported

these events. In this year’s

case, the president not only sent a

congratulatory message to the participants

in the event, but one of

his brothers, Levon Sargsian, was

seated at the head table. Finally, at

the event in Dubai, Hrant Margarian,

the chairperson of the ARF

Bureau publicly thanked President

Sargsian for his support, “without

which we would not have the success

that we have.”

President Sargsian

told the Armenian

community in Zurich,

“establishment of

relations with Turkey

does not mean

forgoing the Genocide.”

All this was and is done publicly

and if the prime minister of Turkey

is not aware of the role that official

Yerevan plays in Hai Tad activities,

including but not limited to Genocide

recognition, then I think he

either has a poor intelligence-gathering

service (after all, all of this

is public information) or what he

says about Armenia and the diaspora

not working together in their

efforts for Genocide recognition is

wishful thinking. I tend to believe

it is the latter. Technically speaking,

what Erdogan said regarding

Armenia-Turkey negotiations and

his take on the role of the diaspora

came a day or so earlier than the

event in Dubai and the publishing

of President Sargsian’s message,

which, by the way, is dated January

26, that is before the Sargsian-Erdogan

meeting. Anyway, after their

meeting in Davos and our event

in Dubai, President Sargsian addressed

the Armenian community

in Zurich, where he reiterated that

“establishment of relations with

Turkey does not mean forgoing the

Genocide; establishment of relations

with Turkey does not mean

subordination of our national interests

to some other issues.”

What the Turkish prime minister

wants to read from all of this is his

prerogative, but we should at least

be careful not to fall in the traps he

sets for us.

TH: The $5 million raised is an

unprecedented amount. Which

activities and programs will this

finance

GM: I want to stress that the five

million raised will be our budget for

the next four years for Hai Tad political

activities in the Middle East

and Europe, including the Russian

Federation and the CIS. Obviously,

we will try to translate more financial

means into more public relations

and political dividends for

the Armenian people and Armenia,

widening the scope and geography

of our activities.

Pursuing international and Turkish

recognition of the Armenian

Genocide and Armenian rights;

raising the issue of Turkey’s responsibility

in the Genocide; paying

closer attention to the situation of

“Turkish Armenians”; countering

Turkish denial and Azerbaijani anti-

Armenian activity and propaganda;

garnering support for the recognition

of Artsakh’s right to self-determination;

defending the rights

of the Armenians in the Javakhk

(Samtskhe-Javakheti) region of

Georgia; supporting Armenia’s integration

into Europe and its closer

cooperation with Middle Eastern

countries: these are the major

items on our agenda. More direct

and individualized advocacy with

parliamentarians and high-ranking

functionaries in European states

and structures; more relations

with European and Middle Eastern

media, think tanks, and academic

circles are the accents we will be

adding to our existing activities.

I wish to stress that although the

five million is an unprecedented

amount for our activities, it still is

much less than what Turkey and

Azerbaijan spend in these same regions

against Armenian interests.

We have been able to counter their

anti-Armenian policies by spending

much less, because the added

component, the multiplying factor,

to our financial means is the active

support and participation in Hai

Tad activities by our communities,

as organizations and as active citizens

of the countries they reside in.

We will focus more on developing

further this capability of our communities.

TH: What percentage of pledges

were you able to actually collect

from the previous two fund-raising

events in Paris and Geneva

GM: Following the first fundraising

dinner in Geneva, around

78 percent of the pledges were actually

collected (total pledges in U.S.

dollars and euros were $1,017,660);

and following the fund-raising dinner

in Paris, around 75 percent of

the pledges were collected (total

pledges were $1,746,062.50). Since

our budgets are primarily based

on the pledges, the difference was

provided by the ARF Bureau. I

have solid grounds to believe that

this time we will be able to collect

Giro Manoyan.

even a larger proportion, if not all

of the pledges.

TH: Can you tell us the names of

the people who made large contributions

in Dubai

GM: Before giving any names,

let me give you general figures. A

total of 240 donors pledged the

$5 million. The smallest amount

pledged was $5 thousand. Of the

$5 million pledged, almost half

is by benefactors from Armenia,

around 12 percent is from supporters

in the Russian Federation and

the rest, around $2 million, is from

supporters in the Middle East and

Europe.

Almost half the

money pledged is from

Armenia.

The names of the donors will be

published shortly.

TH: It was a little surprising that

people representing other political

powers, like Gagik Tsarukian,

made pledges to the activities of

the ARF Hai Tad. Is it possible to say

that the ARF is no longer the only

political party in Armenia pursuing

Hai Tad

GM: The ARF has never considered

Hai Tad to be its monopoly.

Especially in our Hai Tad activities,

we have always had the financial

and moral support of a large segment

of our communities. A lot of

the members of our Hai Tad committees

(Armenian National Committees

in North America), and

some of the staff of our ANC offices

have been supporters of the

ARF, but not necessarily members

of our party. And especially financially,

a large portion of Hai Tad

donations has come from non-party

members.

Just to give you two examples:

When in 1944 the Armenian National

Committee was formed in

New York, a total of $165,000 was

raised by the community. And the

latest ANC of America telethon in

May 2006 raised $2.7 million, with

the participation of thousands of

community members. The fact that

businesspeople from other political

parties in Armenia and the leader

of another advocacy organization

based in the Russian Federation

have participated in our fundraising

efforts only demonstrates how

widespread the support is for our

goals and trust in our efforts are.

We have always been in favor of

more segments of our society getting

involved in Hai Tad activities,

as long as more does not mean more

bickering, but means more concentrated

and coordinated effort.

TH: Has the time not yet arrived

for funds raised for Hai Tad to be

directed toward the repopulating

of Karabakh’s liberated territories

GM: I am afraid, as a nation we

are even late in raising funds to

support a population increase in all

of Artsakh – and for us NKR and

the “liberated territories” should

all have the same status, all are Artsakh

– but the population increase

is an issue that no single political

party or charitable organization

can handle on its own.

This is an issue that requires state

planning and a pan-national effort.

Several years ago, the ARF Bureau

undertook to bring together all major

religious, charitable, and political

structures and organizations in

Armenia and the diaspora to focus

on this most pressing issue, but unfortunately

at the last moment the

gathering fell apart for obvious political

reasons. Since then we have

tried to cooperate with different

charitable organizations and other

structures to help plan and raise

funds for this issue. We also have

Artsakh Fund committees working

toward this goal. Last but not least,

the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund

is the pan-national structure coordinating

efforts toward developing

Artsakh as well. Furthermore,

in Artsakh, we have tried to have

our party members be in charge of

the implementation of programs in

this sphere to hold them accountable

by the party as well.

In short, this is not just a financial

issue. Primarily it is a national

security issue, which demands political

will, and it is at the center of

our attention. After all, $1.25 million

annually for rehabilitation is

really not that much of a financial

resource for this goal. Finally, our

advocacy efforts all over the world

are also aimed at supporting the Armenian

people’s right to Artsakh.

With all the good intentions we

all have, we should not mix everything

up. Population increase in

Artsakh and the Republic of Armenia

is of utmost urgency and we are

trying our best to make progress.

At the same time, we are the leading

organization pursuing Hai Tad

political activities worldwide, and

enjoy the trust and support of a

large segment of our society, both

in Armenia and the diaspora. All

finances raised by us through public

fundraising will be used for the

stated aim for which they were

raised.

f

Missing credit

An uncredited photograph of the

Armenian Writers’ Union building in

Yerevan that accompanied an article

by Aram Arkun about the union

(Jan 10) was taken by Mr. Arkun.


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009 5

Community

Mass-media panel provides networking opportunity

by Alene Tchekmedyian

BURBANK – “Mass Media in

the Armenian Community” was

the title of a panel discussion organized

by the Armenian National

Committee and held at Woodbury

University on January 31.

Co-organized by the ANC Professional

Network (anc-pn) and the

Woodbury University Armenian

Students Association, the panel

was the first event in the anc-pn’s

Professional Panel Series, which

aims to connect Armenian students

with professionals of specific

fields.

The panelists were Maria Armoudian

of KPFK (90.7 FM, Pacifica

Radio); Paul Chaderjian of

the Armenian Reporter and reporter.

am ; Ara Khachatourian , editor

of Asbarez Daily ’s English-language

section; and Harry Vorperian ,

general manager of Horizon TV.

With the panel representing the

television, print, radio, and electronic

arenas, the event provided

a diverse forum to discuss trends

in journalism, the impact of the

Armenian-American media on the

community, and the future of news

consumption.

While there were divergent views

as to whether Armenian media

qualify as “mass” media, the panelists

agreed that Armenian media

serve as a catalyst for political activism

and social change. “Just because

we are Armenian, we are inherently

political,” Mr. Khachatourian

averred as he described what

he viewed as the growing power of

the Armenian media in influencing

decision-making and public perceptions

of issues pertaining to the

Armenian Cause.

Turning to community activism,

Mr. Khachatourian noted that large

media firms, including the Los Angeles

Times and the New York Times,

some years ago stopped characterizing

the Armenian Genocide as a

mere allegation; he credited strong

Armenian-American community

activism for this change.

Mr. Khachatourian found it “remarkable”

that a media outlet

“would reverse its editorial policy

in the face of a government that

won’t.”

Mr. Chaderjian said the core

functions of the Armenian-American

media are to perform the

public service of providing vital

news, helping the community set

collective social and political agendas,

providing entertainment, and

helping continually shape and

preserve the Armenian cultural

identity.

Ms. Armoudian, who volunteers

her time to host the progressive

talk show “Four PM” on kpfk, encouraged

aspiring journalists to

question the status quo and become

agents for social and political

change. Ms. Armoudian said one of

the main reasons she joined Pacifica

Radio was what she called the

“dumbing down” of the American

mass media - and specifically news

dissemination and analysis. She

said complacency, “political correctness,”

and shallow entertainment

increasingly have replaced

substantive, thought-provoking

journalism.

The panelists acknowledged the

financial difficulties facing the owners

of print media outlets- noting

the woes of the Tribune Company,

which publishes the Los Angeles

Times and the Chicago Tribune ; they

said, however, that it is up to the

journalists of tomorrow to revolutionize

newsgathering, through

nonprint media such as the Internet.

While the economic downturn

and shifts in news consumption

have hurt conventional journalism,

Mr. Chaderjian said, today’s

aspiring journalists have access

to novel and diverse ways to tell

a story. “I envy people who want

to get into media today because

all of the doors are open,” he explained.

“Twenty years ago, I didn’t

have access to cameras or editing

programs; it was a whole different

landscape.”

As he spoke of the evolving

needs and preferences of local

Armenian television audiences,

Mr. Vorperian mentioned certain

changes which he hopes to implement

at Horizon TV, such as introducing

English-language programming

in order to tap into the 18-25

age bracket. That age group “probably

doesn’t watch Armenian TV

stations,” he said. Mr. Vorperian

went on to extend an “open invitation”

to aspiring journalists,

encouraging them to pitch story

Petroleum geologist George Chilingarian honored

Panelists Ara

Khachatourian,

Harry

Vorperian, Maria

Armoudian, and

Paul Chaderjian

at the Jan. 31,

2009, event,

“Mass Media in

the Armenian

Community.”

Photo: Nora

Yacoubian

ideas and potentially have air time

on Horizon.

Students wishing to pursue a career

in journalism were informed

of freelancing and internship opportunities

through the panel discussion.

In addition, a representative

of Hamazkayin introduced a

$5,000 scholarship opportunity

for graduate students in the fields

of literature, journalism, or theater/film

studies. Details about the

scholarship can be found at hamazkayin.net/news/2008_Hamazkayin_Scholarship.php.

Raffi Kassabian, anc-pn

Board member, said he thought

the panel discussion provided inspiration

to aspiring journalists

and an opportunity for social networking.

“The goal was achieved

today because so many students

showed willingness to learn from

the experiences of media professionals,”

he explained.

by Shahane Martirosyan

TUJUNGA – Born in Tbilisi,

Georgia, to an Armenian father

and a Russian mother, Professor

George Chilingarian grew up in

Russia and Iran, where his father

was the shah’s physician.

Iran is also where Prof. Chilingarian,

as a civil and petroleum engineer,

discovered several oil fields,

which the Iranian government has

named after him. Considered one

of the world’s foremost petroleum

geologists, Prof. Chilingarian has

published 61 books and hundreds

of articles on geology, petroleum

engineering, and environmental

engineering. He is a recipient of the

Lomonosov Gold Medal from the

Russian Academy of Sciences, the

White Elephant Medal from the

King of Thailand, and the Knight of

Arts and Sciences Medal (Russia),

among others.

Now retired - he taught at the

University of Southern California,

his alma mater - Prof. Chilingarian

has set out to explore the possibility

of finding petroleum in Armenia.

His idea is postulated in his most

recent book, co-authored with former

Armenian geology minister

Ashot Karapetyan.

Prof. Chilingarian has provided

much assistance to Armenian institutions,

the American University

of Armenia (aua) in particular.

Last October, at the opening of the

aua’s Paramaz Avedisian Building,

he was to be honored with a gold

medal bestowed by Armenia’s Ministry

of Education and Science, in

aua President Emeritus Mihran Agbabian notes some of the accomplishments

of Professor George Chilingarian, center, as aua President Harutune Armenian

looks on, in Tujunga, Calif., Jan. 25, 2009. Photo: Shahane Martirosyan

recognition of his contributions to

the university as well as the educational

and scientific development

of Armenia. However, Prof. Chilingarian

was unable to attend the

ceremony.

The story had a happy ending

on January 25, when Haroutune

Armenian, president of the AUA,

and his wife, Sona, hosted a luncheon

at their hilltop home in Tujunga,

California, to present the

gold medal to Prof. Chilingarian.

The event was attended by some of

Prof. Chilingarian’s closest friends

and family as well as a number of

dignitaries, including Honduran

Consul General Vivian V. Panting

Galo and Armenian Consul General

Armen Liloyan.

Let us know what’s on your mind.

Write to us at

letters@reporter.am

Mr. Liloyan told the Armenian Reporter,

“The Armenian government

has great respect for the diaspora’s

scientists, because their work is so

crucial to the future of our government

and the sciences.”

In his welcoming remarks, Prof.

Armenian commended Prof. Chilingarian

for his contributions to

the aua. Prof. Chilingarian “brings

honor to Armenia,” he said.

Next to speak was Prof. Mihran

Agbabian , the first president of

the aua. Prof. Agbabian noted

some of Prof. Chilingarian’s great

accomplishments as a geological

engineer and commended the honoree

for his generous support of

the aua. At the end of his remarks,

Prof. Agbabian invited Mr. Liloyan

to present the gold medal to Prof.

Chilingarian.

After joyfully accepting the award,

Prof. Chilingarian made a powerful

yet entertaining acceptance speech,

in which he expressed gratitude

to Armenia, Prof. Agbabian, Mr.

Liloyan, President Serge Sargsian ,

and the Armenian Ministry of Education

and Science. Prof. Chilingarian

also mentioned his late uncle,

Rouben Darbinian, longtime editor

of Boston’s Hairenik newspaper,

whom he credited with inspiring

him to always honor and support

the Armenian homeland.

Before concluding his remarks,

Prof. Chilingarian presented Mr.

Liloyan with a copy of his latest

book as a gift for Armenia’s president.

In addition, the honoree

invited Iranian-American painter

Perri Amini to present to the consul

general a portrait of President

Sargsian. Ms. Amini had been commissioned

to create the portrait

especially for the occasion. The

attendees watched intently as the

artist unveiled a watercolor piece

depicting Mr. Sargsian alongside

the Armenian flag. Ms. Amini

noted that, as she had grown up in

Esfahan, she had many Armenian

friends and it was an honor for her

to paint a portrait of the president

of Armenia.


6 The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009

Community

MY NAME IS

ARMEN

Solitary confinement

by Armen

D. Bacon

I did something slightly shameful

this weekend. And before I make

my public confession via this column,

let me tell you that I’ve already

placed myself under house

arrest for the action. I am home

alone, in solitary confinement, and

doing time for my crime. Here is

how it all unfolded.

The week started out just fine.

Early to bed, early to rise, I went to

work anticipating a rather normal,

uneventful week. But as is typical

in my world of work, there was a

flood of unexpected meetings, assignments,

and, of course, deadlines.

I quickly sacrificed my daily

gym workouts and lunch hours,

living on protein bars eaten at my

desk. By Friday afternoon, I was

pretty well spent.

The one lunch date I protected

this week was with a dear friend

of mine who is a well-known, local

television personality. But even

those few precious moments were

interrupted by a fan who insisted

on approaching our table to say

hello and then kept talking until

our lunch hour was essentially over.

We both left feeling slighted and

frustrated. Being the good friend

that she is, she called me later in the

day so we could rehash the episode

and conjure up a survival strategy

for next time. During our conversation,

we also acknowledged the

need to be better stewards of the

friendship, even if that meant going

under cover in order to finish a

sentence. The conversation evolved

into thoughts about this chapter

of life - wasn’t it supposed to be

calm and serene, less harried and

chaotic After all, we’d been career

women most of our lives. Was life

ever going to slow down

There was a deafening pause on

the other end of the phone. Her

tone of voice shifted to a whisper.

I was about to be on the receiving

end of top-secret information

- something she confessed, that she

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 armendbacon@aol.com.

has never told a soul. After securing

her permission, I’m about to

share it with the world.

When life’s little interruptions

escalate to the point of causing

personal havoc and occasional

meltdowns, here is what works for

my friend, Beth. Quite simply, she

goes into hiding. It’s a self-imposed

seclusion designed exclusively to

reclaim one’s lost self. And she

promises me that it works every

time. Here’s how it’s done. She

quickly and quietly, without any

fanfare, cancels all weekend plans,

no matter how enticing they might

be. This includes (dare I say) her

family. She finds refuge in the confines

of her own five-star personal

cave - her home. For the next 48

hours, she places herself, quite

happily, under house arrest. That

means no outings for any reason

whatsoever. To hear her describe

the experience, you would think

she was off on some exotic island,

vacationing and living the good life.

Well, in a way, she is. As the saying

goes, there’s no place like home.

She dared me to give it a try. Of

course, I couldn’t resist. Like most

of my weekends, this one was overbooked

from the get-go. I had a

baby shower for a friend, a Super

Bowl party, plans for dinner at a

new Peruvian restaurant, and an

endless series of errands to run on

Saturday. I was hopelessly overprogrammed.

I could feel the silent

alarm sounding, my own heart

pounding, delivering the proverbial

SOS signal that this weekend

might be the perfect time to jump

ship and step off the treadmill of

life - even if only for 48 sneaky,

slightly deceptive, luxurious hours.

Here I go.

This morning the blinds are lowered,

the phone is ringing but I am

not answering it, and I’m happy

to report that I have effectively

worked through the guilt factor

that gnawed at me for the first two

hours of my unscheduled and uncluttered

day. In just a few hours,

I have seen the light of day and

I am breathing new life into this

spirit of mine. I’m actually starting

to feel like my old self again.

I am alive and well, enjoying my

emancipation proclamation. The

day is all mine and I can do whatever

I please. That means nothing

or everything. Of course I will do

something, but without hurry. I

just poured myself a second cup of

coffee and it is almost noon and I

am still in my sweats. I am relishing

the mundane as I prepare to sort

through my own thoughts on this

quiet, beautiful day. As for the bills

and groceries and everything else,

they will just have to wait. After all,

I have banished my former self and

am serving a 48-hour sentence in

solitary confinement.

My name is Armen and I’m sorry

I can’t take your call right now.

Armena’s Consul General Armen Liloyan with Ashkhen Pilavjian and Abp. Moushegh Martirossian at an event hosted by

Mrs. Pilavjian, Jan. 29. 2009.

Armen Liloyan honored for service as

Armenia’s consul general in Los Angeles

GLENDALE – As Armen Liloyan,

the consul general of Armenia, prepares

to end his term and return to

Armenia, the Armenian-American

communities of the Western United

States are honoring him for his

active service.

The arf Central Committee organized

a farewell reception at

Phoenicia Restaurant in Glendale.

It was attended by Archbishop

Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate,

Catholicosate Central Executive

member Khajag Dikijian , Prelacy

Executive Council Chair Dr. Garo

Agopian , Armenian Catholic and

Evangelical Church leaders, and

members of various community organizations.

In his remarks, Archbishop

Mardirossian commended

the consul general’s service and

wished him success in his future

endeavors.

The Prelacy in turn held a farewell

reception for Mr. Liloyan on

January 29, at Pacific Dining Car in

Santa Monica. The event, hosted

by Ashkhen Pilavjian, was attended

by Prelacy Council members,

Mr. Dikijian, arf Bureau

member Dr. Viken Hovsepian,

ARF Central Committee Chair Mr.

Avedik Izmirlian, leaders of the

Armenian Catholic and Evangelical

Churches, and friends.

The Prelate and attendees

thanked and commended the consul

general for his service, and

especially for his collaboration in

Armenia-diaspora matters during

his term.

Mr. Liloyan thanked the Prelate

and the Armenian community of

Los Angeles as a whole for what he

described as their cordial relations

and cooperation during his term.

The consul general spoke highly of

the “commitment and contributions

of the Armenian community

of California to its homeland,” expressing

confidence that Armenia-diaspora

relations will only get

stronger with each passing year.

At the conclusion of the reception,

Archbishop Mardirossian presented

the consul general with a

memento.


Gueststour

newly unveiled

computer lab

at agbu High

School Pasadena.

agbu High School Pasadena unveils

computer lab, new van for athletic programs

PASADENA – On January 23,

parents, students, teachers, administrators,

and School Board

members celebrated the opening

of the agbu High School computer

lab and the presentation of a new

van to the school’s Athletic Department.

The computer lab, which features

15 state-of-the-art computers, was

established with a donation by

Shahan and Shooshig Ohanessian

. Following a ribbon-cutting

ceremony, the guests toured the

lab, where Vice-principal Talin

Kargodorian presented a plaque

to the donors in appreciation of

their commitment to the school.

“It is with parents’ support that we

will continue to strive and make

this institution a model Armenian

magnet school,” said Ms. Kargodorian

in her remarks; she went on

to thank everyone for their continued

dedication.

Afterward the attendees made

their way to the parking lot to witness

a ribbon-cutting ceremony for

the school’s new van. Coach Vic

Karapetian was handed the keys

to the vehicle, which will be used

to transport students to and from

various athletic games and field

trips. The purchase of the van was

made possible by the fund-raising

efforts of the school’s Parent Support

Group and the Fathers’ Club.

The vehicle was bought jointly with

the agbu Pasadena/Glendale Chapter,

which will use it for its scouting

program.

The two ceremonies were followed

by a reception at the Boyajian

Hall, hosted by the Parent Support

Group.

Established in 2006, agbu High

School Pasadena is a coeducational

institution with 104 students in

grades 9-12, serving the Armenian

community of the San Gabriel Valley.

It is affiliated with agbu Manoogian-Demirdjian

School (Canoga

Park, California).

connect:

agbuphs.org

agbu.org


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009 7

Community

amaa gears up for Orphan and Child Care Luncheon and Fashion Show

Leslie Kevorkian and Caroline Tufenkian, co-chairs of the amaa Orphan and

Child Care Luncheon and Fashion Show, set for March 21.

LOS ANGELES – The Armenian

Missionary Association of America’s

(amaa) Orphan and Child Care

Luncheon and Fashion Show, produced

by Nordstrom, will be held

on Saturday, March 21, at the Beverly

Hills Hotel.

Marilyn Bezdikian, who is in

charge of coordinating the fashion

show and whose efforts resulted in

Nordstrom’s support of the event,

said, “The models are so eager to

participate and the outfits are so

charming that we are going to have

an absolutely lovely show for all

our guests.”

The theme for this year’s luncheon

is “Children Helping Children

Through Hope and Joy,” reflecting

the fact that, by participating in

the fashion show, talented children

in Los Angeles help raise funds for

disadvantaged children in Armenia.

“You should see their smiles

and eagerness when we explain to

them the mission of the amaa and

how their presence and their input

helps disadvantaged children of all

ages in Armenia,” said Caroline

Tufenkian, who, along with Leslie

Kevorkian, is co-chairing this

year’s event.

“They are truly touched and

overwhelmed by emotion, especially

when they look at photos

of children in Armenia who are

in such need,” added Lori Muncherian,

one of the West Coast

co-chairs.

This year’s silent auction will

offer many gift items from Armenia,

hand-painted works of

art, rare crystal and porcelain

pieces, from Lalique to Baccarat,

jewelry and gift baskets, a

night stay at a five-star resort in

Monarch Beach, a hotel-and-golf

package at a resort in Carlsbad,

two-day spa packages at a luxury

hotel in Westlake Village, and

various event tickets.

Nicole Nishanian , silent auction

chair, said the response to requests

for donating auction prizes

has been overwhelming, though

not surprising. “All our donors

know that the funds raised from

this event reach a child in his or her

hour of need in a land that is far

away from Los Angeles but never

too far from our hearts and minds,”

Ms. Nishanian noted. Like Leslie

Shahinian, who is assisting in the

coordination of the silent auction,

Ms. Nishanian said she believes

that “bidding for these brilliant

items [in the auction] will be intense

and passionate, driven by the

motivation to give to our children

in Armenia.”

According to Maro Yacoubian,

chair of the child-sponsorship

amaa has raised over $9 million in capital campaign

drive, financial contributions are

already being received. “Although

we are all living in special economic

times, and are at times frightened

by what may be around the

corner, realizing that the children

in Armenia are also frightened is

encouraging supporters to make

donations, to reassure [our young

beneficiaries] that we are here for

them and we will not forget them,”

Ms. Yacoubian said.

In 2008, funds raised by the

amaa Orphan and Child Care

Committee facilitated nearly

3,000 scholarships and supported

20 kindergartens in Armenia and

Karabakh, summer and day camps

for more than 6,000 children and

teenagers, as well as several art

and sports programs. Joyce Stein,

national co-chair of the committee,

explained that “the funds go

directly to the benefit of the needy

children - nothing is spared and all

efforts are made to reach out to everyone

who is in need.”

connect:

1-213-509-4337

PARAMUS – The Armenian Missionary

Association of America has

been celebrating its 90th anniversary

over the past year.

Founded in 1918, the amaa

was created to serve the physical

and spiritual needs of people

everywhere, both in the United

States and abroad. To fulfill this

worldwide mission, the amaa

maintains a range of educational,

evangelistic, relief, social service,

healthcare, church, and childcare

ministries in 22 countries around

the world.

Last October 18, during the 90th

Anniversary Banquet, Executive

Director Andrew Torigian announced

the public launch of the

“Together, we can build miracles”

multiyear capital campaign. Since

fundraising commenced for this

endeavor in August 2007, over $9

million, approximately two-thirds

of the total goal, has already been

committed by leading supporters

of the amaa.

Embarking on this campaign

represents the legacy of the amaa’s

achievements. It is an opportune

time for the association to expand

its programs in order to satisfy

the growing needs of the people it

serves and continue providing accessible

community services.

amaa Executive Director Andy Torigian with Elsie Kashishian Haig at her home

in Los Angeles. Mrs. Kashishian Haig and her children are adding to their

endowment fund at the amaa.

“Together, we can build miracles”

campaign priorities include:

opening the doors to a new cultural

center and church in Yerevan;

developing newly purchased

property in Gyumri to serve as

a community center and church;

expanding the Khoren and

Shoushanik Avedisian Elementary

School in Yerevan into a middle

and high school; commencing

renovations to summer camps;

restoring a five-story building at

Haigazian University in Lebanon;

and helping the Charlotte and

Elise Merdinian School in California

achieve its goal of expanding

into a high school.


connect:

www.amaa.org

1-201-265-2607

Karl Samuelian, Esq., with amaa Executive Director Andy Torigian and Board

member Dr. Nazareth Darakjian at Max’s Restaurant in Sherman Oaks, Calif. Mr.

Samuelian and Dr. Darakjian have endowment funds with the amaa.

amaa Executive Director Andy Torigian with Stephen Lazarian, President

Emeritus of the Armenian Gospel Mission, at Mr. Lazarian’s office in Pasadena,

Calif. They explored ways in which they can help indigent people in Armenia.

Let us know what’s

on your mind.

Write to us at

letters@

reporter.am

BABYSITTER/CAREGIVER

My name is Gayane.

I am a loving, caring, energetic

person. Bilingual in Armenian and

Russian. I have many years of

experience and I am currently

looking for a full-time job I have

references to provide.

If you are interested in contacting

me please call (347)776-7281


8 The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009

Community

Armenian artists to join Global Soul 2009

LOS ANGELES – Storyteller

Alidz Agbabian and musician

Arto Tuncboyaciyan will join

artists from around the world on

February 26, when Jewish World

Watch (jww) will host Global Soul,

an evening of music, culture, and

genocide awareness at the Skirball

Cultural Center. The event will honor

Rabbi M. Schulweis, co-founder

of jww, for his lifetime of activism

and innovation, and will celebrate

the accomplishments of jww during

its first five years.

“I am very happy to be presenting

stories and songs from the Armenian

oral tradition at Global Soul

2009,” said Ms. Agbabian. “Listening

to the messages of the other

performers is very important for

me. . . . What a great opportunity

to experience our mutual humanity

through art.”

Since its inception, jww has made

great strides in mobilizing the Jewish

community in Los Angeles as

well as the public at large to crusade

against genocide and human-rights

violations throughout the world.

In addition, jww has engaged in

significant outreach to interfaith

and ethnic communities in Los

Angeles, including the Armenian

and Cambodian communities. In

partnership with the Armenian

community of Los Angeles, jww

led the Jewish community to recognize

the Armenian Genocide by

hosting a Jewish-Armenian Shabbat

Dinner and Service to observe

the 92nd anniversary of the Armenian

Genocide, in 2007.

Also that year, jww gave its

first “I Witness” Award to two Armenians

scholars, filmmaker J.

Michael Hagopian and historian

Richard G. Hovannisian, who

have dedicated their professional

lives to chronicling the history of

the Armenian people and commemorating

victims of the Armenian

Genocide.

A mosaic of cultures in

solidarity

With an abiding commitment to

honor communities that have endured

genocide, Global Soul will

highlight a multicultural gathering

of musicians, storytellers, and artists.

Underscoring the message of

“global conscience,” the participating

artists will bring to the audience

their unique sounds and stories,

infused with both traditional

and modern-day rhythms.

The performers will include

Hmong hip-hop/tropical artists Delicious

Venom; reggae/Afro-beat

singer Dynamq, “the Sudanese

Child”; Afro-beat vocal and percussion

ensemble Adaawe; African storyteller

Masanhko Kamsisi Banda;

gospel singer Paula Bellamy;

Goodness, an a cappella ensemble

from Pepperdine University; and the

Debbie Allen Dance Academy.

Major conference planned on Armenia

and Armenians in international law

“I am participating in Global Soul

to honor the people who lost their

lives because of their identity and

their religious beliefs,” said Mr.

Tuncboyaciyan. “Global Soul will

bring us together for a greater understanding

of one another.”

Global Soul will be an intergenerational

event, with interactive

activities specifically designed for

teen engagement. Individuals will

be able to make a video postcard

asking President Obama to make

the ongoing genocide in Darfur

a priority of his administration;

send email to elected officials; or

design their own advocacy postcards.

“With Global Soul, we want guests

to be inspired and energized by the

wonderful performances while gaining

a better understanding of the

cultures that are being or have been

destroyed by the cruelty of genocide,”

said Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug, executive

director of jww. “We hope

this event will inspire and motivate

our guests to become more active in

the fight to combat genocide around

the world. In the five years since its

founding, Jewish World Watch has

achieved significant success within

its three mission goals: education,

advocacy, and refugee relief. As we

continue to grow, we look forward

to working with the community to

expand both the depth and reach of

our programs.”

In response to the murder of

400,000 civilians and the displacement

of nearly 2.5 million people

in the Sudan, jww chose Darfur as

its first advocacy-campaign cause.

Since its inception, jww has mobilized

grassroots support through

synagogues and the community at

large, and allocated more than $2

million in direct assistance to the

people of Darfur.


connect:

GlobalSoul.org

From ancient Rome

to modern Yerevan

ANN ARBOR – The Armenian

Studies Program of the University

of Michigan is organizing a major

international conference on “Armenia

and Armenians in International

Treaties,” which will be held

on the campus of the University

of Michigan, Ann Arbor, March

18–21. The conference will cover

instruments of international law

over 2,000 years. Twenty-four

scholars from Armenia, Europe,

South America, and the United

States will cover treaties and

agreements from the ancient Roman

and Persian empires to the

Arab Caliphates; Byzantium, the

Mongol Empire, Italian city-states,

and Muslim and Crusader states

in the Middle Ages; the Ottoman,

Safavid and Russian empires, and

European states and Turkey in

early modern and modern history;

and Russia, Kazakhstan, and

international organizations since

Armenia’s independence in 1991.

The conference will be webcast

live and can be viewed through the

Armenian Studies Program website.


connect:

umtv-live.rs.itd.umich.edu/asp/

asp013009.asx

Primate participates in Joint Commission for Theological

Dialogue between Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches

NEW YORK– Archbishop Khajag

Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese

of the Armenian Church of America

(Eastern), attended a meeting in

Rome this week of the Joint International

Commission for Theological

Dialogue Between the Roman Catholic

Church and Oriental Orthodox

Churches.

The five-day meeting, which

began on Tuesday, January 27, focused

on the “exercise of communion

among the churches in the

first five centuries.”

The meeting also was devoted to

the examination and approval of

an agreed statement on the “Nature,

Constitution and Mission of

the Church,” which describes broad

areas of consensus among the participating

churches regarding fundamental

ecclesiological principles,

and outlines areas that require further

study.

This first agreed theological report

of the Roman Catholic-Oriental Orthodox

dialogue is considered a major

achievement by the participants.

Joining the delegation from the

Roman Catholic Church were representatives

of the Oriental Orthodox

“family”: the Armenian, Coptic,

Syrian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, and

Malankara (Indian) churches.

On Friday, January 30, members

of the commission met with Pope

Benedict XVI. The Pope spoke of

the “communion through the grace

of the Holy Spirit” that unites the

Roman Catholic and Oriental Orthodox

Churches. “We all have a

duty to work for the manifestation

of that essential dimension of the

church to the world,” the Pope said.

“The very fact that the dialogue has

continued over time and is hosted

each year by one of the several

churches you represent is itself a

sign of hope and encouragement.”

Archbishop Barsamian shared

with Pope Benedict the warm wishes

of His Karekin II, Catholicos of

All Armenians, as they recalled the

Catholicos’s most recent visit to

the Vatican last May. Pope Benedict

sent his warm greetings to the

Armenian pontiff.


Visit us at new reporter.am

Tapestry depicting the Battle of Vartanantz by Grigor Khanjian. The tapestry is

located at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

Vartanantz Day activities planned

at New York’s St. Vartan Cathedral

Fr. Haigazoun

Najarian, Arthur

Kubikian will speak

NEW YORK –Participants in this

year’s Sts. Vartanantz Day observance

at New York’s St. Vartan Armenian

Cathedral will enjoy an evening

of inspiring words and soulful

music during the commemoration,

which will take place on Thursday,

February 19, 2009.

The day’s events have been organized

under the auspices of the

Eastern Diocese of the Armenian

Church of America, with the participation

of the Knights and Daughters

of Vartan Mid-Atlantic Region.

Beginning at 6:00 p.m., a Festal

Divine Liturgy will be celebrated

in the St. Vartan Cathedral. The St.

Vartan Cathedral Choir, under the

direction of Maestro Khoren Mekanejian,

will sing the sacred music.

The Vartanantz activities will continue

at 7:30 p.m., with dinner in

Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium

of the Diocesan complex. This

will be followed by a program featuring

remarks and a special performance.

The Very Rev. Fr. Haigazoun Najarian,

Vicar of the Diocese, and Dr.

Arthur Kubikian will be the two

main speakers for the event.

“The importance of Vartanantz is

its uniqueness in being the first battle

in which a people fought to defend

their Christian faith,” said Dr.

Kubikian. “The historian Yeghishe

[who documented the Vartanantz

war] might say that the Armenian

nation survived because of its link

with the spiritual, its yearning for

the eternal, through the teachings

of the Armenian Church.”

He added: “There are still many

challenges facing the Armenian

nation—in the diaspora and the

republic, but also at the family and

personal levels. What is asked of

us—as privileged Armenian-Americans—is

to inspire a new generation

to undertake a path of united service

in the spirit of the Vartanank.”

The evening will also feature

a special musical program by the

“Shnorhali Chorale,” a vocal ensemble

from the Holy Martyrs Armenian

Church of Bayside, N.Y.

The donation for the Thursday,

February 19 Vartanantz dinner and

program is $25 for adults; $10 for

children under twelve. The Divine

Liturgy and the subsequent activities

will be held at the Diocesan Complex,

630 Second Avenue (corner of 34th

Street) in New York City. For additional

information, call the Diocesan

Center at (212) 686-0710.


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009 9

Community

atp Organizes ‘Tree City Armenia’ Competition in Six Rural Villages

WATERTOWN, Mass. – Armenia

Tree Project (atp) initiated a

“Tree City Armenia” competition

to encourage the care of decorative

and fruit trees planted in six villages

in the Kotayk, Armavir, and

Aragatsotn regions. The competition

was proposed by atp Executive

Committee member Moorad

Mooradian and modeled after the

Tree City usa program of the Arbor

Day Foundation.

After assessing the needs and

conditions in Artashar, Irind,

Karmrashen, Nor Artamet, Tsakhunk,

and Zoravan, atp began

partnering with families in the villages

by planting decorative and

fruit trees at dozens of community

sites. The program was designed to

encourage the villages to grow and

nurture the atp trees, in competition

with one another to achieve

the best results.

Several fruit trees were distributed

to each family in 2007 and

two more trees were given to each

family in 2008. The participating

villages achieved remarkable survival

rates of 96-98 percent, which

serves as an example for other villages

and communities to follow in

the future.

After visiting the planting sites

to monitor the results, the winners

Artworks invited for

Toronto exhibit on genocide

TORONTO –Artwork for Remains

to be Seen, an exhibit on

genocide, may be submitted until

February 27, the International

Institute for Genocide and Human

Rights Studies (iighrs) has

announced. Visual artists living

in North America and working in

installation, new media, painting,

photography, sculpture, video, and

works on paper are invited to send

submissions. All work accepted

for exhibition must be an original

work of the artist and must address

the issue of genocide, the

guidelines state. This topic may

be engaged, explored, and interpreted

from any or all angles that

analyze the universal questions

relating to human rights and their

gross violation.

of the “Tree City Armenia” competition

were announced during a

ceremony at the atp office in Yerevan

on December 11, 2008.

atp Community Tree Planting

program manager Anahit Gharibyan

opened the program with a

heartfelt welcoming speech, during

which she emphasized the important

role of the participating communities

in developing Armenia

and building a better future for

the next generations. “Since these

communities achieved such unexpectedly

high results, we decided to

rejuvenate the orchards by providing

more new fruit trees,” stated

Gharibyan. “It was difficult for atp

to decide which village would take

first prize because all of the communities

took exceptional care of

the trees.”

atp Yerevan Director Mher

Sadoyan congratulated the community

leaders from the winning

villages and pledged to continue

working with them in 2009. “We

would like to continue our collaboration

by aiding those communities

with the fewest resources, especially

by greening public sites,”

said Sadoyan.

The first prize went to the head of

Artashar Village in Armavir, which

achieved a seedling survival rate of

Submitted artworks will be reviewed

and curated by Rhonda

Corvese, a Toronto-based independent

curator whose projects often

evolve in response to situations

where she strives to challenge the

role of the curator, the artist, and

the audience in the presentation

and engagement of contemporary

art. Her recent projects include cocurating

ScotiaBank Nuit Blanche

2007 and curating Iris Haussler’s

The Legacy of Joseph Wagenbach.

Notifications will be sent by

April 6 for the two-week exhibition,

which opens May 28 at Lennox

Contemporary in downtown

Toronto.


connect:

www.genocidestudies.org

soar-la receives

contributions in

memory of Robert Paul

98 percent. “Artashar has a population

of 1,800 and unfortunately

the standard of living is not very

high,” explained Mayor Manvel

Ohanian. “Growing trees seemed

impossible, so we are thankful to

atp for establishing a community

tree planting program here. All of

our residents did their best to take

care of the trees, so I am very proud

to receive this wonderful prize. It

belongs to every family and every

single resident who grew beautiful

trees on barren land. Personally for

me this moment is very exciting

and inspiring.”

All six contestants received Certificates

of Excellence for their

work in re-greening their communities

while also advancing socioeconomic

growth in their regions.

All of the village sites are now ready

for sponsorship by atp donors,

since they have become models for

further investment.

Since 2004, atp’s ctp program

has been collaborating with 15 villages

and 5,572 families have received

apricot, wild apple, peach,

and pear trees. In 2008, residents

at 115 sites in Armenia with trees

planted by atp benefited from

a harvest of more than 500,000

pounds of fresh fruit. Already

19,458 trees have been planted by

1,620 families as part of atp’s “Tree

City Armenia” program.

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

ATP worked with

villages in the

Kotayk, Armavir,

and Aragatsotn

regions to plant

thousands of

apricot, wild

apple, peach, and

pear trees as

part of its “Tree

City Armenia

competition

tiered initiatives are tree planting,

community development to reduce

poverty and promote self-sufficiency,

and environmental education to

protect Armenia’s precious natural

resources. For additional information,

visit the web site www.armeniatree.org.


Edward D. Jamie, Jr. Funeral Chapel, LLC

208-17 Northern Blvd. Bayside, NY 11361

Tel. 718-224-2390

Website: www.jamiejrfuneral.com.

Serving the Armenian Community Since 1969

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

LOS ANGELES – Robert Paul

died on December 7, 2008. His

family asked that donations in his

memory be made to SOAR-LA, the

Los Angeles chapter of the Society

for Orphaned Armenian Relief.

“Mr. Paul’s friend’s and family’s

contributions towards his memorial

totaled more than $4,700 and

will be used towards the purchase

of needed humanitarian supplies to

directly benefit Armenia’s orphans

who live in one of Armenia’s 14

orphanages,” said Peter Abajian,

president of soar-la, “On behalf

of the Board of Directors I would

like to extend my appreciation to

the Paul family for their belief in

our mission.”

Mr. Paul was born in 1927 in Menado

in the Dutch East Indies. He

led a very interesting life. He was

held in a Japanese prison camp for

four years during the Second World

War, when the Japanese invaded the

Dutch East Indies. After the war, his

family moved to the Netherlands,

where he finished school and joined

the Dutch military. He moved to the

United States in 1962 and in 1964

married his wife Kathleen.

Mr. Paul visited Armenia 13

times and had a terrific passion for

assisting families and children in

Armenia.

Robert Paul is survived by his wife,

Kathleen, sister, Yvonne, four children,

and numerous grandchildren.

soar-la is the Los Angeles chapter

of soar us, a national nonprofit

organization based in Philadelphia.

Established in 2006, soar and

its affiliates work to raise needed

funds and humanitarian supplies

to support Armenia’s orphanages

and the more than 1,200 children

they serve.


connect:

soar-us.org


10 The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009

Armenia

Seeing the world in red, blue and orange

The “Tri-Color in My

Eyes” photo exhibit

kicks off in Yerevan

by Maria Titizian

YEREVAN – “We want society

to begin loving the yerakyun (tricolor),”

Arpi Dilanchian, member

of the Armenian Revolutionary

Federation’s Youth Organization,

says. “It is one of the symbols of

our statehood and we have to learn

to appreciate its value.”

In conjunction with Army Day,

which is celebrated every year in

Armenia on January 28, the ARF’s

Youth Organization held a threeday

photo exhibit-competition

titled, “The Tricolor in My Eyes,”

which kicked off on February 2. The

exhibition took place at the prestigious

Gevorgyan Gallery in downtown

Yerevan.

The photo exhibit-competition

presented 43 original photographs

depicting the Armenian flag. “Everybody

sees the yerakyun differently,”

said another youth organizer

who added that the objective was

for people to start seeing the flag

differently and through their own

eyes. Pointing to one of the photographs

on exhibit titled, “Injecting

the Tricolor,” a young participant

wanted to highlight how differently

people perceive state symbols.

“Injecting the Tricolor,” submitted

by a young photography student

depicts an arm of a man painted

with blue and red veins with an

orange needle injecting something

into his arm. The organizers admit

that they were debating whether

or not to display it because they

weren’t sure how the public would

react. “It’s freedom of expression,”

a young woman interjected. “The

point of the exhibition is for people

to express how they see the yerakyun.”

Another photograph by the

same photographer was what some

of the more conservative members

of the organization called a ‘provocative’

picture of a woman with

cleavage, with red lips sipping orange

juice with a blue straw.

Most of the photographs on display

were from the Armenia-Turkey

World Cup qualifying soccer match

that took place in Yerevan on September

6, 2008, with Turkey’s

President Abdullah Gul in attendance.

That historic game not only

prompted many people in Yerevan

to view the tricolor differently but

city officials also began placing

the Armenian flag in key locations

throughout the city. It created an

unprecedented momentum in Yerevan.

People were waving the tricolor

flag and painting their faces

red, blue, and orange.

Some of the other photographs in

the exhibit were taken during April

24 commemoration ceremonies at

the Genocide Memorial Complex

Tzitzernakaberd and during youth

marches demanding Genocide recognition.

The young activists say that with

independence and statehood, Armenian

society’s appreciation for state

symbols like the coat of arms, the

national anthem, and the tricolor

were not automatic. Understanding

the value of statehood, the organizers

feel, still needs time to take root

in the country. With this photo exhibit

they hope to instill the love of

the yerakyun in Armenian society .

The organizers had invited several

university faculties to participate.

They had placed posters throughout

the city calling for submissions, and

they had used the Internet to advertise

for the event. Even though

they are a youth organization, the

Above: Multitasking. Vahe Khachatryan. Below: Tricolor buds. Njdeh Yeranyan

competition was open to everyone;

there were no limitations placed on

the age of those who wished to participate,

but the overriding majority

were indeed young people.

“One of the participants is a

young woman who is taking part

in an exhibition for the first time in

her life and was so excited. She told

us she would never have imagined

In second place, “Old Armenia.” Photo: Sarkis Virabyan.

being a part of something like this,”

Arpi explains.

During the three-day exhibit,

visitors to the gallery had an opportunity

to vote for their favorite

photograph. The first place

winner, “Power, Faith, Love,” won

30,000 AMD (about $100) depicting

three fists painted in red, blue,

and orange. The photo in second

place, “Old Armenia,” was awarded

20,000 AMD; it depicted an older

Above: A scene

from the

Armenia-Turkey

soccer match.

Photo:Vahe

Khachatryan.

Far left: The

first place

winner, “Power,

Faith, Love”.

Photo: Aram

Baghdasaryan.

Left: Third

place went to “I

am Armenian.”

Photo: Nayruhi

Markaryan.

Armenian with a tricolor scarf on.

Third place went to “I am Armenian,”

with a 10,000 AMD prize. It

showed a young girl on her way to

the Armenia-Turkey soccer match.

The ARF Youth Organization

says that they hope to turn this

photo exhibit into an annual event,

maybe even every three months

with a different theme each time

to encourage the young people

of Armenia to participate.


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009 11

Community

Armenian Sisters Academy hold Family Night Funtertainment

by Kayane Janjigian

Knudson

RADNOR, Pa. – Hectic schedules

and attention-grabbing electronics

pose a challenge for even the most

well-intentioned family members

trying to spend quality time with

one another in this trigger-finger,

fast-paced age. Fortunately, the

annual Armenian Sisters Academy

Family Night function reminds us of

how enjoyable the simplest of pleasures

are when spent with our loved

ones and friends. Thanks to Seran

Schug and George’s Dreshertown

Shop n Bag, the Parent Teacher

Council served a delectable filet mignon

dinner to over 200 attendees

on Saturday evening, January 24.

The full course dinner was only an

appetizer for what was dished up

the rest of the night.

Entertainment was provided by

the Montessori children, who delightfully

sang some favorite Armenian

and American songs. On the

heels of a presidential inauguration

promising change for American citizens,

the eighth-grade girls enacted

their own “change” to the usual

agenda for Family Night by choreographing

and performing their

unique rendition of an Indian Scarf

Dance. In the days before, they

chose to forego their prized recess

time to practice their creation, demonstrating

how a team can forge

Eighth-grade girls perform their version of an Indian Scarf Dance.

forward with fun and frolic for the

purpose of bringing jubilance to

others. When they concluded their

dance, they hopped off the stage to

teach the younger children the steps.

DJ Serop Buldukyan (’06) then alternated

lively Armenian favorites

with American hip-hop music, making

it impossible for anyone with

happy feet to sit still. Parents and

children filled the dance area with

high kicks and high spirits!

Families love to share in each other’s

birthday celebrations and Family

Night proved just that, as a beautifully

decorated cake was presented

to Principal Sister Louisa Kassarjian.

The glow from the candles and

the voices of young children sweetly

singing “Happy Birthday” infused a

warmth through the air well worth

inhaling. Additional desserts were

offered to satisfy any sweet tooth

and provided extra fuel for the energetic

dancers to keep their toes

tapping. Raffle prizes, coloring

stations and games allowed family

members to peruse and participate

as desired. ptc Chairperson Rita

A joyous celebration.

Ohanyan and her dedicated committee

ensured “quality family time”

for all who attended, as did the

many volunteers who helped with

set up, serving, and gift donations.

Family Night’s success in attracting

a high number of attendees was notable,

but its true triumph was in

delivering a forum where a family

could happily connect through the

basic pleasures of play, dance, feast,

and song, while exponentially enhancing

that joy with others doing

the exact same!


Abp. Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Eastern Diocese and President of the National

Council of Churches, and Raffi Balian, a member of the Legate’s Committee,

participate in a discussion at the Christian Churches Together meeting in Baltimore.

Archbishop Aykazian

attends annual meeting of

Christian Churches Together

NEW YORK – More than 100

leaders of churches and Christian

organizations nationwide gathered

in Baltimore from January 13 to

16, for the third annual meeting of

Christian Churches Together, an

organization founded in September

2001 as a forum to broaden and

expand fellowship, unity, and witness

among Christian churches in

the United States.

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian,

Legate of the Eastern Diocese

and President of the National

Council of Churches, represented

the Armenian Church of

America (Eastern). Raffi Balian,

a member of the Legate’s Committee,

accompanied Archbishop

Aykazian.

During the meetings, the church

leaders developed strategies to advocate

for combating poverty in

America.

Also under discussion was the

Middle East peace process, including

the plight of Christian communities

in the Near East.

On Thursday, January 15, the

church leaders met with senior advisors

of incoming President Barack

Obama and leaders from more than

20 Senate offices to discuss ways to

help the poor in America, and also

to help end violence in the Middle

East among all communities, including

the region’s Christians.

In the meeting with members of

the Obama Administration, Daniel

Shapiro, one of the president’s

senior Middle East advisors, asked

Archbishop Aykazian to speak

about the state of Christians in

the region. Archbishop Aykazian

discussed the shrinking number

of Middle East Christians and the

problems facing their communities.

He indicated that he would be

ready to assist the new administration

“to act as a bridge to the communities

in the Middle East.”

As the gathering closed, Archbishop

Aykazian was elected to the

Steering Committee of Christian

Churches Together.

Throughout the meeting, participants

gathered for worship

services in the range of traditions

represented in Christian Churches

Together, including the Orthodox,

Evangelical, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal,

historic Protestant, and

racial and ethnic churches.

According to Christian Churches

Together, a total of 43 denominations

are represented in the organization.


connect:

www.christianchurchestogether.org


12 The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009

Community

Videographer Roger Hagopian keeps history in the forefront

by Tom Vartabedian

LEXINGTON, MA – If you’re an

Armenian Genocide survivor living

in New England, you probably have

been approached by Roger Hagopian

to document your history.

If not, give it time. There’s only so

many hours in a day which is hardly

enough for this 59-year-old videographer

who’s bent on his mission.

Six DVDs tell the story of Armenians

in their hallowed state, from

the war years to the military, their

jobs, families, occupational hazards,

done to music, rare footage

and told in a stoic manner.

For the outside world, it’s an educational

tool, meant to be shared.

With Hagopian, it’s a little more

than that. It’s become his passion

to keep history alive and pass it forward

to future generations.

“It’s an honor and privilege to record

and preserve the oral histories

of these generations,” he points

out. “We must remember and appreciate

the struggle, sacrifice and

endurance of this breed of reluctant

heroes – the likes of which we

may never see again.”

The 7 th video is yet to come, a

work in progress that details the

lives of immigrant workers inside

the old Hood Rubber Plant in Watertown

where conditions raised

havoc with their general health and

mental state.

Among them was renown artist

Arshile Gorky, who originally came

from Van and occasionally stayed

at the Hagopian flat in Watertown.

“My father recalled they once went

to Nantasket Beach and Gorky came

out of the ocean looking like Jesus

Christ with a beard he was sporting

at the time,” said Hagopian. “He

was employed at Hood Rubber for a

short time and was fired for drawing

on the soles of shoes, often while

hunkering down on the rooftop of a

factory building.”

Such stories tend to manifest

themselves, providing a platform

for a man who cleans rugs for a living

and joins his wife Lynda at weekend

craft fairs as she sells her handmade

jewelry. It’s also an occasion

for Hagopian to peddle his videos

and hob-knob with people, something

he has no difficulty doing.

The video phase of his life began

in the mid-90s when Lynda noticed

in a Lexington paper that the local

cable access TV station was offering

courses in film production.

In walked Hagopian with a pile of

Armenian history books and told

them he wanted to create an Armenian

documentary. Out of it came

his first Armenian film.

Subsequently, it’s evolved into

using computer software that offers

editing and DVD production.

“I’ve always been a fan of historical

documentary films, especially the

work of Ken Burns,” he says. “My

focus is the genocide. In my own

way, I try to use the video medium,

specifically the oral history interviews.

Powerful imagery and music

enhance the project, leaving an

added impression upon the viewer,

especially non-Armenians, many

of whom are just now learning the

enormity of our suffrage as a nation.

I could not achieve such an effect

through the written word.”

Of all the survivors, none meant

more to him than his dad Hurire,

who was born in 1912 in Avantz

near Van. He recalls the turmoil

when his own father, who fought in

the Van resistance, was in the parliament

of the 1918-1920 Armenian

Republic and subsequently killed

in the ill-fated February 18 th Revolt

against the Soviets in 1921.

His proudest accomplishment

was not only documenting the

family’s history in Van, but arranging

for his father to be honored as

a Genocide survivor at the Massachusetts

State House during a 1999

commemoration – seven months

before his death.

“I’ve always been conscious of my

Armenian heritage,” he notes. “But

it was the realization that my father

did not have long to live that

prompted me to record his story and

expand upon it by putting it into historical

context through research.”

Another memorable survivor was

Peter Bilezikian, born in Marash in

1912. He witnessed and escaped the

death and destruction of the Armenian

community there.

“At the age of 97, Peter is an inspiration

to me,” says Hagopian. “He’s

a man of peace and goodwill. He

holds no animosity to the Turks and

acknowledges the peaceful coexistence

between Armenians and Turks

in his city up to the genocide. He is

full of enthusiasm and gratitude for

his life and family, especially his devoted

daughter Bethel Charkoudian.

I’m grateful to call him my friend.”

Hagopian names his filmmaking

venture Yeznig Film Productions

which has a separate identity from

his work cleaning carpets and upholstery.

One commands a modest salary,

the other no payment whatsoever.

Hagopian has a music degree from

UMass Boston. He and his wife, the

former Lynda Kechejian, are parents

of two sons, Rodger and Manuel.

Affiliations include: NAASR,

ALMA, Knights of Vartan, Armenian

Memorial Church and Middlesex

Canal Association. He’s one of five

Lexington Armenians participating

in the successful removal of the ADL/

No Place for Hate from Lexington in

2007.

“Growing up in a diverse inner city

neighborhood (Dorchester) shaped

my outlook on other groups in a

positive way,” Hagopian maintains.

“I gravitated toward the Jews and

the Greeks because of our commonalities

– the Greek food and the Jewish

experience with the Holocaust.”

When Hagopian left Dorchester

List of favorites

Music – Jazz

Entertainers – Pianist Errol Garner,

John and June Baboian

TV show – Reruns of “The 3

Stooges”

Movie – “Duck Soup” with the

Marx Brothers

Screen star – Sophia Loren

Hobbies – Jazz piano and trumpet;

model and real trains; nature

and historical hikes

American song – “Love” by Nat

King Cole. I used to sing it to Lynda

when we dated.

Armenian song – “Giligia”

Relaxation – A 3-to-4-mile run

Most embarrassing moment –

Any time I’m given credit for being

any more than what I really am.

If I could trade places with

anyone for a day – Documentary

filmmaker Ken Burns

Pet peeve – Those who ignore the

golden rule

Pet – Our cat Chessie, a railroad

kitten

Favorite spot in Greater Boston

– The Freedom Trail. I wrote a

poem about it as a kid.

Day trip – Walking the Marginal

Trail in Ogunquit, Maine, with my

in his teens, the process of yearning

and reminiscence began, hence

the videos. His love of music, especially

jazz, has struck up a connection

with Serge Tankian of the

band, “System of a Down,” and its

efforts to obtain Armenian Genocide

recognition internationally.

Support has come his way

through the Watertown Cultural

Council and Amaras Art Alliance

which promotes the rich cultures

of Armenian and American people

through performs, exhibits, lectures,

publications and travel tours.

Videographer/

historian Roger

Hagopian is

shown with his

collection of

DVDs, which

numbers six and

continues to gain

momentum.

wife Lynda

American book – “Flags of Our

Fathers” by James Bradley, an

account of the lives of six Marines

who raised the flag at Iwo

Jima

Armenian book – “Neither to

Laugh nor to Weep,” a memoir

of the Armenian Genocide by

the late Rev. Abraham Hartunian,

translated into English by his son,

my friend, the late Rev. Vartan

Hartunian

Athlete – Marathon runner, the

late Johnny Kelly, who ran into

his 80s.

Statesman – President John F.

Kennedy

Armenians – Vartan Mamigonian

and General Antranig

Proudest accomplishment

– Documenting the story of the

Hagopian family of Van, then arranging

to have my father, Hurire,

singularly honored as an Armenian

Genocide survivor at the

Massachusetts State House during

the 1999 commemoration – 7

months before his death

Quote – “Happiness is accepting

reality,” by my late uncle, Charlie

Changelian

One of his heroes is Dr. Carol

Ann Najarian, who coordinated relief

work in Armenia and together

with her husband George, built

and improved hospitals in Armenia

and Karabagh following the

earthquake in 1988 and the war

with Azerbaijan throughout the

1990s.

Another contemporary of his is

Apo Torosyan who, like himself, is

an independent filmmaker of subjects

such as the Armenian Genocide

and has enjoyed universal appeal

with his works.

Hagopian videos

recapture history

1. Journey along the Middlesex

Canal – An historical

account of the first major canal

in America (1803-1853), linking

Boston Harbor to the Merrimack

River. A town-by-town exploration

of the abandoned route and

remains of the old waterway with

its locks, lock tender houses, aqueducts

and culverts.

2. Journey of an Armenian

Family – The story of the Hagopian

family of Van, where 1,300 Armenians,

including Roger’s grandfather

Nishan, heroically held off

thousands of Turks and Kurds.

3. Memories of Marash

– Traces the ancient history of

the city, located in present Turkey,

through a series of massacres

from the late 1800s to 1923

through the genocide years and

final expulsion of the Armenian

community. The firm consists of

interviews with Armenian Genocide

survivors and experts on the

subject of Marash and Celicia

4. Our Boys – Armenian-

American World War 2 veterans

reflect upon the bombing of Pearl

Harbor, their induction into the

military and near-death experiences

during combat. Life on the

home front is also recalled by

women.

5. Victory at Van – An account

of the defense of Van

where the outnumbered Armenians

successfully drove off the

attacking Turks and Kurds, saving

over 30,000 people. Interviews

with survivors recount the

subsequent evacuation of Van

through imagery of the period

and scenes of the region today.

6. Memory Fragments from

the Armenian Genocide – Survivor

and eyewitness accounts of

the deportations and evacuations

enhanced through historical photographs

and period films.

Strangely enough, Hagopian

has never been to Armenia, except

in his dreams. His work, he feels,

keeps him in touch with Armenia

every single day.

“I believe that one individual in

a grass roots effort can accomplish

a lot,” he maintains. “Armenians

need to promote an awareness of

our story at whatever level we are

capable – whether it’s through oneon-one

conversation, public speaking,

classroom education, writing

books and creating documentary

films.”


POSITION SOUGHT

A vibrant 50-year old Armenian

woman looking for work

as either a babysitter or

caregiver for elderly.

Excellent Armenian cook.

Speaks Armenian & Russian.

Live in or live out in New York

or New Jersey.

Please call Elsa,

(347) 782-4811.

N. Lael Telfeyan, Ph.D., LCSW

Counseling and Psychotherapy

with Individuals, Families and Couples

Adults and Adolescents

140 West 97th St.

New York, NY 10025

By appointment 917-975-3109

24 Windsor Road

Great Neck, NY 11021

e-mail: nlael@aol.com


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009 13

Community

GALA DINNER & DANCE

PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT THE RENOVATION OF

ST. ILLUMINATOR’S

ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC CATHEDRAL

Under the Auspices of

His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate

Hosted by

Pastor and Board of Trustees of

St. Illuminator’s Armenian Apostolic Cathedral

Abp. Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate, Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, Pastor, the architect, and

Board members at the St. Illuminator’s Armenian Apostolic Cathedral

Gala dinner and dance to

support Eastern Prelacy

Cathedral renovation

NEW YORK – Pastor and Board

of Trustees of St. Illuminator’s

Armenian Apostolic Cathedral in

New York are hosting a gala dinner

and dance on Sunday, February 22,

at 5 p.m., to support the renovation

of the cathedral.

The cathedral sanctuary is being

renovated, and plans are under preparation

to restructure the entrance.

Varoujan Vartanian and his band

will provide the entertainment at the

event, which will take place at Terrace

on the Park in Corona, New York.

Calendar of Events

In preparation for the dinner,

the Prelate, Archbishop Oshagan

Choloyan, addressed the faithful

in a letter highlighting the history

of the cathedral and outlining

the renovations underway.

The Prelate wrote, “After all these

years that St. Illuminator’s Mother

Church has served our community,

the time has come when she

needs our support and assistance.

I request that after reading this

message, you reply with a generous

donation.”


Sunday, February 22nd, 2009 at 5:00pm

Terrace on the Park

(52-11 111th Street, Corona, NY)

Featuring

VAROUJAN VARTANIAN AND HIS BAND

Donation - $100.00 Students: - $75.00

For more information and reservations please call:

Cathedral Office: (212) 689-5880

Let us know what’s on your mind.

Write to us at

letters@reporter.am

New York

FEBRUARY 19 - STS. VARTAN-

ANTZ DAY at St. Vartan Cathedral,

630 Second Ave. (corner

34th St.), New York City. Under

the auspices of the Eastern Diocese,

with participation of the

Mid-Atlantic Knights & Daughters

of Vartan. Dinner & program

begin on Thursday evening, 7:30

p.m. in Haik & Alice Kavookjian

Auditorium (following 6:00 p.m.

Divine Liturgy). Main Speakers:

FR. HAIGAZOUN NAJARIAN,

and DR. ARTHUR KUBIKIAN;

includes musical program by

“Shnorhali Chorale” (of Bayside’s

Holy Martyrs Church). Donation:

$25 for adults; $10 for children under

12. For information call (212)

686-0710.

FEBRUARY 22 - GALA DINNER

& DANCE. Proceeds to benefit the

renovation of the St. Illuminator’s

Armenian Apostolic Cathedral. At

Terrace on the Park, 52-11 111th

Street, Corona, NY. Starting at 5:00

p.m.; Donation: $100.00 (students

$75). For information and reservations

call the Cathedral at (212)

689-5880.

MARCH 8 - MUSICAL ARME-

NIA, Sunday, at Weill Recital

Hall at Carnegie Hall in New

York City, featuring cellist David

Bakamjian and violinist Cecee

Pantikian. . Sponsored by the

Eastern Prelacy and Prelacy Ladies

Guild.

MARCH 15 - “MORTGAGE

BURNING” CELEBRATION BAN-

QUET at Saint Sarkis Church,

Douglaston, Queens. Sunday, at

1:30 pm. The Pastor and Board of

Trustees invite parishioners and

friends to join the Saint Sarkis

family in an afternoon Banquet

Celebration of this momentous

and joyful event in the Church

history. For information, kindly

contact the Church office at 718-

224-2275

MARCH 28 - SAVE THE DATE!

ARS Centennial Gala Banquet at

the prestigious Yale Club of NYC.

Details to follow. 718-961-9550.

APRIL 16 - QUARTERLY FO-

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@armenianprelacy.org

or by telephone

at 212-689-7810.

MAY 16- HMADS GALA DINNER

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.

New Jersey

FEBRUARY 7 - 50TH ANNIVER-

SARY DINNER DANCE OF STS.

VARTANANTZ CHURCH, Ridgefield,

NJ. Celebration includes

cocktails, Silent Auction & Open

Bar at the beautiful Rockleigh

Country Club, music by Varoujan

Vartanian, Ara Dinkjian, Harold

Hagopian. Donation: $150 pp.

Call church office at (201) 943-

2950 for reservations and information.

FEBRUARY 21 - PAREGENTAN

Dinner Dance sponsored by St.

Thomas Armenian Church. Corner

of Rt. 9W and East Clinton

Avenue, Tenafly NJ. Music by

MOSHE and Soloist. Includes variety

of “mezze” appetizers, filet

mignon dinner, desserts and soft

drinks. Saturday, Cash Bar available.

Performance by Akh’Tamar

Dance Ensemble of St. Thomas

Children’s Group. Adults $50 pp.

Children 11 and under $20 pp. For

reservations call: Sylva Torosian

at (201) 894-0143, Tanya Vartanyan

at (201) 941-6764, Shamiram

Hamparian (201) 265-7251, Rosine

Hovsepian at (201) 265-1275

or the Church Office

NOVEMBER 15 - “ONE NATION,

ONE CULTURE” A Cultural Festival

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 Lodi, New Jersey.

Donation: $75, $50, $35, $25.

For more information or tickets

please contact: Hamazkayin @

201-945-8992 or Paradon2009@

gmail.com

Greenwich,

Connecticut

JANUARY 1 - MARCH 1 - EXHIB-

IT - “WINDOW TO THE EXOTIC”

by HOVSEP PUSHMAN. Featuring

8 important master works from a

private collection. Abby M. Taylor

fine Art, 43 Greenwich, CT. For

more info. call (203) 622-0906 or

visit amtfine.art.com

Subscription Coupon

the armenian

reporter

annual rates

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

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

name

street

city/state/zip

AGAU SCHOLARSHIPS AVAIL-

ABLE

The AGAU Alumni scholarship applications

are available for NJHS

2009 Graduates. For application

please call President Irene Khorozian

(201) 262-4625. All scholarship

winners must attend the

June 28, 2009 scholarship luncheon

at the Landmark II in East

Rutherford, N.J.

Check Enclosed OR Charge My:

Mastercard Visa Amex Discover

Exp.

mail coupon to: armenian reporter

p.o. box 129, paramus, nj 07652

or

fax coupon to (201) 226-1660

(credit card orders only)


14 The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009

Community

Peter Balakian discusses the new edition of his Black Dog of Fate

by Lola Koundakjian

NEW YORK – It used to be

nearly impossible to find an English-language

book, published by a

major house, that dealt with personal

memories interwoven with

the topics of the Armenian Genocide,

the emigration of survivors,

or Armenian freedom fighters. The

tide has changed thanks in part to

Peter Balakian ’s groundbreaking

work, Black Dog of Fate. Continuously

in print since 1997, with 23

editions, it has been translated into

Armenian, Dutch, German, Greek,

and Turkish.

[Today the firmly established

genre includes recent books such

as Skylark Farm by Antonia Arslan

(English translation from

the original Italian, published

in 2007), The Knock at the Door

by Margaret Ajemian Ahnert

(2007), My Grandmother: A Memoir

by Fethiye Cetin (U.S. edition

published in 2007), Marie-Antoinette

Varténie Arzoumanian-

Bédanian ’s Traverse Mère de Dieu

- Marseille (published in French

in 2003), and Nancy Kricorian ’s

Zabelle (1999) and Dreams of Bread

and Fire (2004).]

This month, Basic Books, a division

of the Perseus Books Group,

published an expanded, tenth-anniversary

edition of Black Dog of

Fate , with two additional chapters.

Recently I caught up with Mr. Balakian

during his winter break in Europe,

for a conversation about the

new edition.

When asked about his expectations

regarding public reaction to

the book, Mr. Balakian said he had

none. “I was just happy it was published,”

he noted.

Embraced as a modern classic,

Black Dog of Fate was awarded

the PEN/Albrand Prize for Memoir,

was a New York Times Notable

Book for 1997, and recognized as

Best Book of the Year by the Los Angeles

Times , Publishers Weekly, and

Library Journal . Publishers Weekly

called the book “A prose masterpiece

by an acclaimed poet,” and

the Philadelphia Inquirer hailed it as

“a landmark chapter in the literature

of witness.”

Author Chris Bohjalian said

that when he read the book, he saw

in it echoes of his own childhood.

In 1997, New York Times reviewer

Dinitia Smith wrote that authors

such as Carol Edgarian , Leslie

Ayvazian , Mark Arax, and film

director Atom Egoyan , in addition

to Mr. Balakian, have “at the heart

of their work . . . a search for justice

and acknowledgement.”

It is therefore gratifying to learn

that Mr. Balakian’s book is now

taught at numerous U.S. colleges,

universities, and secondary schools.

“Students and teachers are using it

in the classroom fairly consistently,”

Mr. Balakian said, adding that students

send him emails and letters

as they write reports on the book

and the Armenian Genocide. He

A revised edition of Peter Balakian’s

Black Dog of Fate: A Memoir includes two

new chapters.

said that they ask good questions,

and that it is rewarding to be in

dialogue with them.

Asked about current front-page

stories about genocides around the

globe and how the citizens of the

world and their leaders react when

they read such news, Mr. Balakian

said he believes that “the general

population knows more about the

concept of genocide today than ever

before,” due largely to genocides in

the Balkans, Rwanda, and Darfur

in the past decade. “Certainly some

heads of state and governmental

organizations, at least in Europe

and perhaps here - and we’re hopeful

with the Obama administration

on human-rights issues - are realizing

that they must make stopping

genocide a priority. Whether this

will happen remains to be seen.”

In its December 7, 2008 issue,

the New York Times Magazine published

an excerpt from the latest

edition of Black Dog of Fate (see

below), in which Mr. Balakian describes

his trip to Lebanon and

Syria in 2005. “I had a beautiful

experience in Beirut and Aleppo

lecturing in May of 2005,” he said,

and added that he couldn’t believe

the size and intensity of the audiences.

He found the Armenians

there to be highly engaged in their

history and culture, and said he

learned a lot from them and being

in the Armenian neighborhoods

of those great cities.

After his lecture in Beirut at the

50th-anniversary celebration of

Haigazian University, Mr. Balakian

continued on to Aleppo, where he

discovered vestiges of his grandmother’s

refugee life, and then to

Der-Zor. “I had no idea I would find

my grandmother’s world in Aleppo,

but I’ll leave that story for readers

to read about in the new chapters

[of Black Dog of Fate ,]” Balakian

said.

Commenting on the book’s translation

into Turkish, Mr. Balakian

credited publisher Ragip Zarakolu,

the human-rights activist and

director/owner of the Belge Publishing

House. “Zarakolu is a brave

man who has done so much to try

and bring intellectual freedom to

Turkey,” Mr. Balakian said. “The

Turkish edition of my memoir is a

beautiful book.” Although figures

are not available for the translation’s

sales in Turkey, Mr. Balakian

believes that it circulates along a

non-mainstream path but that it

gets read. The Armenian edition

came out in 2002. Two years later,

Mr. Balakian traveled to Armenia

for a book tour, which he recalls as

a wonderful experience. Another

indication of Mr. Balakian’s acclaim

in Armenia was that he was given

honorary membership in both the

Writers’ Union and the Academy of

Sciences.

Since the original edition of

Black Dog of Fate , Mr. Balakian has

appeared widely on television and

radio shows including “ABC World

News Tonight,” “Charlie Rose,” and

Terry Gross ’ “Fresh Air” (NPR).

No doubt the list will expand after

Mr. Balakian’s tenth-anniversary

book tour is announced in the near

future.

Mr. Balakian is also the author

of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian

Genocide and America’s Response,

a New York Times bestseller, first

published in 2003. In addition to

his writings, Balakian has co-translated

(with Aris Sevag ) and edited

an eyewitness account of the Armenian

Genocide written by his

great-uncle, Grigoris Balakian

(1873–1934). The translation, titled

Armenian Golgotha, will be released

on March 31.


Bones: an excerpt from the revised edition of Black Dog of Fate

by Peter Balakian

For Armenians, Der Zor has come

to have a meaning approximate to

Auschwitz. Each, in different ways,

an epicenter of death and a systematic

process of mass-killing; each

a symbolic place, an epigrammatic

name on a dark map. Der Zor is a

term that sticks with you, or sticks

on you, like a burr or thorn: “r” “z”

“or” — hard, sawing, knifelike. Der

Zor: A place to which hundreds of

thousands of Armenians in 1915

and 1916 were forced to march, a

final destination in the genocide of

the Armenians carried out by the

Ottoman Turkish government under

the cover of World War I.

In May 2005, after I was invited

to lecture in Beirut through the

auspices of the U.S. State Department,

the Armenian church arranged

for me to travel into Syria

— to Aleppo, an important city of

refuge during the Armenian genocide,

and farther east to Der Zor.

The highway from Aleppo followed

the Euphrates River through

Syria toward the Iraqi border. The

river appeared and then disappeared,

fresh and flowing and teal

green, not brown and sluggish as I

had imagined it, and certainly not

red with blood and clogged with

corpses as recorded by eyewitnesses

during the worst period of the

genocide.

By noon we were passing through

the commercial district of Der Zor

city. The streets buzzed with cars

and mopeds as we drove up to the

high stone facade of the Armenian

church, called Holy Martyrs. The

Der Hayr (parish priest) ushered us

inside. Downstairs, under the sanctuary,

there were archways and a

giant marble pillar that rose up

within a large opening in the ceiling.

Circling the pillar were glass

cases containing bones and soil.

Hundreds of bones: partial skulls,

femurs, tibias, clavicles, eye sockets,

teeth. Case by case. Bones and

more bones.

I asked the Der Hayr where they

came from. “You’ll see soon,” he

said. And after mezze we were off

farther to the east. I realized now

that Der Zor was a huge region of

arid land. After a couple of hours

of nothing but the occasional flock

of sheep, the car stopped in the

middle of nowhere, and up the hill

at the side of the road I saw a small

chapel of white stone.

“This is Margadeh,” my guide, Father

Nerseh, said. “About 15 years

ago, the Syrian government was

doing some exploration for oil here

and put their steam shovels in the

ground, and piles of bones came up.”

“Right here,” I said pointing

down.

“Yes.” He explained that the Syrian

government had offered the

Armenian church a plot of land for

a memorial.

I walked up the slope toward the

chapel. I put my hand in the dirt,

grazing the ground, and came up

with hard white pieces. “Our ancestors

are here,” I muttered. Then

Google launches free Turkish translation service

I began, without thinking, picking

up handfuls of dirt, sifting out the

bones and stuffing them in my pockets.

I felt the porous, chalky, dirt-saturated,

hard, infrangible stuff in my

hands. A piece of hip socket, part of

a skull. Nine decades later.

I filled my pockets with bones,

compelled to have these fragments

with me as I continued up the hill

to the chapel. The floor was cool,

and behind the altar was a wall of

alabaster with a carved cross. With

the evening sun pouring through

a yellow glass window, the whole

space was floating in saffron light.

I tried to empty my head and let go

of the graveyard I was standing in,

to let go of myself. Let the breath

go in, go out.

On the plane back to the United

States, I kept waking and sleeping.

It wasn’t until we were over Labrador

that I realized I was carrying

organic matter from another country.

The declaration card asked: Are

you bringing with you fruits, plants,

cell cultures, “soil, or have you visited

a farm/ranch/pasture outside

the United States” The bones, now

in resealable bags, were caked with

soil, and although they weren’t cell

cultures, what were they now, 90

years later

I reached down into my briefcase

and felt them through the plastic,

glancing around to see if a flight

attendant might be looking. What

could I say These are bones of my

countrymen I had visited a pasture

of bones in the Syrian desert

This one might be from my grandmother’s

first husband; this one

from a farmer from Sivas. I filled

out my declaration card. “Are you

bringing with you … ”

I put an X in the “No” column.

As I stood in line at customs at

Kennedy Airport, I remembered

my State Department hosts telling

me that, because of where I’d

been, they might want to check my

bags. But the customs agent looked

at my passport, looked at me, then

stamped the passport and said,

“Welcome back.”


by Lou Ann Matossian

MINNEAPOLIS – Merhaba.

So you’ve found a Web page in

Turkish and want to know what

it says. Maybe you’ve come across

an archival document, a family

letter, the back of an old photo, or

today’s newspaper. Years ago, the

elder generation might have been

able to read it. Now you don’t

know who can help, and your

Turkish-English dictionary offers

only bits and pieces of a scrambled

mosaic. To sort out the word

order, the inflections, the idioms

of Turkish, you need a translator.

Unfortunately, the free translation

software online is almost

worse than your dictionary. Instead

of clarifying the picture, it

serves you word salad.

Thanks to Google, help is on the

way. On February 1, the popular

Internet search engine added Turkish

and six additional languages to

its online service, Google Translate.

While not comparable in quality

Google Translate

now offers

translations to

and from Turkish.

to a human translation, Google’s

machine translation can provide a

rough idea of a Turkish text in a

fraction of the time you would take

to look up every other word in the

dictionary. And it’s free.

In addition to deciphering Turkish

texts or entire Web pages, English-speakers

can now surf the

Turkish-language Internet. Google

translates English search terms

into Turkish, finds the most relevant

Web pages, and displays them

in both languages.

The process also works in reverse.

Anything written in Google Translate’s

40 other languages can now

be translated almost instantly into

Turkish.

Popular demand may have

helped to spur the availability of

Turkish translation, says the “unofficial

blog” Google Operating System.

Last September, when 11 languages

were announced, many of

the commenters requested Turkish,

“so Google listened to the feedback.”

Turkish has an estimated 63 million

speakers.

But popularity isn’t everything.

Maltese, with its 400,000 speakers,

was among the 6 new languages introduced

with Turkish this month.

Can Armenian be far behind

connect:

http://translate.google.com/


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009 15

Armenia

From Armenia, in brief

Richard Giragosian

appointed director of

ACNIS

“Richard Giragosian represents the

very ideals of objective scholarship

that ACNIS has long held dear,

and his personal contribution to

the development of Armenia only

matches the Center’s goals for a

more democratic Armenia,” Armenian

Center for National and International

Studies (ACNIS) founder

Raffi K. Hovannisian said, announcing

Mr. Giragosian’s appointment

as the center’s director.

ACNIS conducts a wide range of

strategic research and analysis covering

the significant public policy

issues in Armenia. ACNIS strategic

research and analysis covers five

main program areas: public policy,

economics, international and regional

studies, national security

studies, and global and regional

trends.

For nine years, Mr. Giragosian

served as a professional staff member

of the Joint Economic Committee

of the U.S. Congress. He is a

regular contributor to Radio Free

Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)

publications and is a contributing

analyst for the London-based

Jane’s Information Group, covering

political, economic, and security issues

in the South Caucasus, Central

Asia, and the Asia-Pacific region. In

addition, Mr. Giragosian was appointed

twice as a State Commissioner

on the Virginia Governor’s

Commission on Armenian Affairs

and has also served as an honorary

member of the National Steering

Committees of both the Clinton

Armenian soldiers. Photos: Photolure.

and Gore presidential campaigns.

Cease-fire violations

continues along

Karabakh Line of

Contact

On the night of January 30–31,

Karabakh’s Armed Forces registered

a number of cease-fire violations

by the Azerbaijani army.

According to Armenpress, the

press service of the NKR Defense

Ministry said that Azerbaijani

soldiers had opened irregular fire

in the direction of Armenian positions

in Horadiz, Karakhambel,

Korapatkino, Bashkarvet, and

Jraberd, utilizing weapons of different

calibers.

Armenian regiments were able to

determine the firing point of Azerbaijani

positions and suppressed

the fire without any losses. According

to the Nagorno-Karabakh

Defense Ministry, the armed forces

have the situation entirely under

control on the front line and are

Richard Giragosian.

ready to suppress any aggressive

steps undertaken by the rival.

However on the evening of February

1 and during the day on February

2, Azerbaijan once again violated

the cease-fire at a number of

sections of the contact line between

NKR and Azerbaijan. According to

Mediamax, Azerbaijani soldiers

fired at positions using small arms

to the south in Horadiz, east to Korapatkino,

northeast to Talish, and

in the north Gyulistan directions.

Following an adequate response

from Armenia’s armed forces, the

enemy stopped fire. There were no

human losses.

Investments in

construction hit $2.8

billion in 2008

According to Armenia’s National

Statistical Service (NSS), investments

in construction in Armenia

in 2008 grew by 1.7 percent to $2.8

billion.

The greatest volume of investments

was recorded in the third

quarter of the year, 44.2 percent or

$1.2 billion, dropping in the fourth

quarter to 36.2 percent.

985 buildings with a total of

515,152 square meters of living

space were put in commission in

Armenia in 2008, exceeding the

2007 indicator by 9.8 percent. 84

buildings with a total of 22,800

square meters were constructed

through state budget funds, 10

buildings with a total living area of

120,517 square meters by organizations

and 891 buildings with a total

of 371,835 square meters by private

companies.

Car imports grew by

18.5 percent in 2008

According to Arminfo, 41,104 cars

were imported into Armenia despite

declining demand for cars

globally. According to the State

Income Committee, the import of

Russian cars also grew by 13.9 percent

to 7,831 while the import of

older cars declined. In Armenia, the

older the car, the higher the tax.

The import of cars worth less

than $5,000 dropped by 27.3 percent

to 13,830. Cars valued at $5,000–

$10,000 grew by 40.6 percent to

16,191; cars worth $10,000–$15,000

grew by 57 percent to 5,586.

School of cheese

making in Tashir to go

regional

With the support of the Center of

Agrobusiness and Rural Development

(CARD) and the Armenian

State Agrarian University, the

Daughter Melania Cheese Factory

is now being used as a school for

cheese makers. Professors from the

university and experienced cheese

making specialists are teaching

there.

According to Armenpress, the

school, which employees from

different cheese factories have attended,

has presented certificates

of qualification to more than 100

graduates. The graduates now

Armenia’s deputy police chief murdered

YEREVAN – At approximately 8:30

P.M. on February 3, Police Colonel

Gevorg Mherian, 33, a deputy

chief of Armenia’s police force, was

shot dead in front of his apartment

on the seventh floor of an

apartment building in Yerevan. An

unknown assailant fled the scene

of the crime after shooting several

rounds from his gun: three of

the bullets hit Col. Mherian in the

head and one in the chest. By the

time emergency services arrived,

Col. Mherian was already dead. Investigators

found eight shell casings

from 9 mm gage bullets.

The prosecutor general of Armenia,

Aghvan Hovsepian, police

chief Alik Sarkisian, and

the head of the National Security

Service of Armenia, Gorik Hakobyan,

immediately arrived at the

scene of the crime.

A criminal investigation has

been launched and will be conducted

by the Special Investigations

Service.

Mr. Sarkisian told Mediamax

that the shooting of the young

work in cheese factories and family

farms.

Naira Mkrtchian, head of the

marketing department of the center,

said that Lori, Chanakh, Gouda,

Dutch, Edem, Swiss, and Mozzarella

cheeses produced by the Tashir

cheese factory are successfully

being exported to Russia and the

United States.

Based on the success of the

Tashir cheese making school, CARD

has made an additional investment

for establishing schools in this

field. The school, which has helped

restore some of the best traditions

of Armenian cheese production

is planned to be made into a regional

institution where people

from Georgia can also participate

in courses.

Armenia Fund director

visits Iran




According to Arminfo, the executive

director of the Armenia Fund

Ara Vardanyan was in the Islamic

Republic of Iran for a two-day

working visit to discuss possibilities

of establishing a fund affiliate

there. The trip was organized with

the support of the Armenian Embassy

in Iran, as well as chairperson

of the Armenian Council of Tehran

Aida Avanesyan.

41,104 cars were

imported into

Armenia in 2008.




colonel is a “serious shock to our

structure.”

Similarly on February 5, President

Serge Sargsian called a

consultation with all those connected

with the investigation of

the murder. He said, “The bullet

of the criminal was directed not

only toward one person, official

but toward a whole system – police,

the whole law enforcement

system. The recent activity of

Gevorg Mherian was directed

toward the fight for the elimination

of corruption mechanisms,

and we must realize that.

We must realize that and give

a corresponding response. Our

activities must stem from this

circumstance.”

Gevorg Mheryan was appointed

deputy chief of police in July 2008.

Previous to that he was a legal advisor

to the president of Armenia,

from March 2006.

He is survived by his two daughters

and his wife, who is pregnant

with their third child. f

Ara Vardanyan.

The Armenia Fund believes that

establishing a local affiliate in Iran

will make the already established

rapport between the fund and the

Armenian community in Iran even

more efficient.

Thanks to Iranian-Armenian

sponsorship a number of projects

were implemented in the villages of

Shvanizor, Alvank and Nrnadzor in

the region of Meghri.

f




Gevorg

Mherian. Photo:

Photolure.


16 The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009

Armenia

MCC focused on Arzni-Shamiram waterway

by Armen Hakobyan

YEREVAN – For thousands of years

people in Armenia have blessed

those who offer them water by saying,

“May your life be as eternal as

water.” Armen Ayvazian, who is a

37-year-old laborer and who participated

in the renovation of the main

Arzni-Shamiram canal, hopes that

the supply of irrigation water will

improve as a result of their labor

and farmers will bless the work of

the constructors and organizers.

Armen is from Sasunik village,

which is adjacent to Ashtarak. Even

though he currently works quite far

from his home in the small city of

Yeghvard, he says that he is satisfied

with the working conditions

and payment. He is one of 20 workers

of the French Sade company

who, since mid-January, have been

implementing the rehabilitation of

the problematic sections of the 4.2-

kilometer-long Arzni-Shamiram

main irrigation canal funded by

the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

On January 29 the Armenian Reporter

had the opportunity to become

acquainted with the renovation

work together with Ara Hovsepian,

the chief executive officer of

the Millennium Challenge Account

Armenia and members of the team

working on the irrigation project.

Gevorg Gevorgian (l.) and Ara Hovsepian.

The 4.2-kilometer-long section of the

Arzni-Shamiram canal is included in

the first phase of the project for the

renovation of six main canals. The

contractors of the renovation work

are the French Sade and Armenian

SHMSH-23 companies, with which

MCA-Armenia signed a contract on

December 2008.

Gevorg Gevorgian, a representative

of the Sade company and the

assistant to the project told the Armenian

Reporter: “This is a big project

for our company and we have

taken on these works with great responsibility.

We are currently cleaning

the walls of the aqueduct, the

sides, and the bottom. All together

there are 17 sections that have been

included in the first phase of this

year’s works.”

Haroutun Sarkissian, an engineer

with Sade adds that dismantling

works are being carried

out at the damaged sections of

the canal. “After cleaning the bottom

and removing the waste, we

will start the concrete work. We

are going to try to finish 1.7 kilometers

and put it into operation

by the beginning of the irrigation

season. We will start working on

Manual labor on the waterway. Photos: Armen Hakobyan for the Armenian Reporter.

the remaining section this autumn

and we will continue working

until spring 2010.”

Tigran Kalantarian, head of

Millennium Challenge Account

Armenia’s Irrigated Agriculture

Project (IAP) notes that the most

damaged sections of the canals

have been included in the first

phase of the renovation works

of the six main canals. Parallel to

this, the emphasis of the works

being carried out is on the restoration

of those sections of canals

where there are 30 percent losses

of water. The overall length of the

Arzni-Shamiram canal is 82 kilometers

and in Mr. Kalantarian’s

words, the renovation and restoration

of the sections totaling 4.2

kilometers in length will increase

the effectiveness of the supply of

irrigation water at the end of the

canal and allow the expansion of

irrigation lands. The Arzni-Shamiram

system irrigates around 25,000

hectares of land at the foothills of

Mount Aragats. The six main water

canals that MCC is renovating

will cost $5.7 million, of which $3.65

million is earmarked for the Arzni-

Shahmiram canal.

f

Forced sale of business belonging to opposition activist fails

by Ruben Meloyan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL) – The first auction

for an Armenian company

owned by an opposition businessperson

and effectively confiscated

by the government ended in failure

Monday with no bids submitted by

local or foreign investors.

Still, government officials said

they will make more attempts to

auction off the Bjni mineral water

plant in payment for taxes that it

allegedly evaded.

Bjni was raided by law-enforcement

officers and put up for sale

late last year after failing to pay

4.2 billion drams ($13.5 million) in

fines imposed by tax authorities.

The auction began on January 23

after being briefly suspended by a

Yerevan court in late December.

“We have received no proposals,”

a spokesperson for Armenia’s Service

for the Mandatory Execution

of Judicial Acts (SMEJA), Ruben

Grdzelian, told RFE/RL as the 10-

day period for the submission of

bids, set by Armenian law, expired

on Monday evening.

“In accordance with the law, a repeat

auction will be called on February

5,” Mr. Grdzelian said, adding

that the government’s asking price

of about 5 billion drams will be lowered

by 10 percent. The price will

be cut further if the second auction

also attracts no bids, he said.

“There is nothing unusual about

this,” added the official.

But a Bjni lawyer, Ara Zohrabian,

suggested that investors are

reluctant to buy a company that

many believe was penalized for its

owner Khachatur Sukiasian’s

political activities. “I think potential

buyers had the prudence to

understand that an auction held

with violations of the law could get

them in trouble in the future,” he

told RFE/RL.

[Meanwhile, Mr. Sukiasian’s father

had threatened any buyer with

bodily harm.]

Bjni is one of a dozen companies

making up Sukiasian’s SIL Concern

group. Most of them were inspected

by tax officials and charged with

evading millions of dollars in taxes

shortly after Mr. Sukiasian publicly

welcomed former President Levon

Ter-Petrosian’s September 2007

return to active politics. The tycoon

was among several Ter-Petrosian

associates who went into hiding to

escape arrest following the February

2008 presidential election.

Mr. Sukiasian and his extended

family claim to have been the victims

of a “political vendetta” waged

against them by the Armenian authorities.

But the latter deny any

political motives behind the crackdown.

f

©2009 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the

permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio

Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W.

Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

With Bjni and Noy off the shelves,

the market share of other brands is

growing.












A segment of the Armavir-Isahakian-Gyumri road, completed Dec. 2008.

U.S. Millennium Challenge program

is rebuilding Armenia’s waterways

n Continued from page

for five years, and we must clearly

carry out our work. We have to

implement what has been planned,

independent of political processes.”

Only if there is a political decision

to suspend or cancel the compact

would the work be impacted, he

said, adding that no such decision

has been taken.

As for the road program, the

Millennium Challenge Corporation

indicated in a statement that

it “hopes to see signs that the government

of Armenia is committed

to improving the performance

criteria central to MCC eligibility.

At the moment, the $16.8 million

provided by the government of

Armenia has not been fully exhausted.”

f


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009 17

Armenia

Celebrating St. Sarkis with salty cookies

Many young

Armenians go to bed

thirsty to see their

future love in their

dreams

by Betty Panossian-Ter

Sarkissian

YEREVAN – On February 7, the

Armenian Apostolic Church commemorates

the Day of St. Sarkis,

the patron saint of the youth and

the mediator of love for young Armenians.

A holiday unique to the

Armenian Church, St. Sarkis has

been declared as the day for blessing

the youth by Catholicos of All

Armenians Karekin II. St. Sarkis

is celebrated with mass in the Armenian

churches, followed by an

exchange of gifts and sweets by

young girls and boys.

The history behind the

saint

“1700 years back, the commemoration

of the Day of St. Sarkis had

served the goal of establishing the

identity of the Armenian Christian

Church and to the nationalization

of the Armenian Church,” ethnographer

Hranush Khratyan says.

In the 4th century, Sarkis was

a prince and a commander of the

army in Cappadocia, bordering the

Armenian kingdom. Not only was

he a brave commander, but also a

great preacher of Christianity. During

the reign of Julianos the Apostate

(360–363) when the followers

of Christianity were persecuted, by

divine command General Sarkis

and his son fled the borders of the

Empire and took refuge in Christian

Armenia. Seeing that King

Julian was preparing a great attack

against Persia and wishing to keep

his country out of danger, King

Diran suggested General Sarkis

serve in the army of King Shabouh

of Persia. Many of the officers in

the Persian army, witnessing the

faith and the miracles that General

Sarkis achieved with his prayers accepted

Christianity. This caused the

wrath of the Persian King and the

mob in its rage killed the General

and his son. Later, Mesrob Mashtots

brought their relics to Armenia,

buried them in Ashtarak, and

built a church over them.

Folk traditions and

legends

The religious basis of the legend of

St. Sarkis developed folk tales and

traditions.

On the eve of St. Sarkis, young

girls and boys eat salty cookies right

before going to bed in an attempt

to find out the identity of their soul

mate. They are not to drink any

water, so as to add to their thirst

and whoever offers them a glass of

water in their dreams, will become

their future husband or wife.

Another legend says that young

girls are to place a plate of wheat

flour outside their window and

wait for the trace of the amulet of

the horse of St. Sarkis. Whoever is

lucky enough to find the trace of

the amulet in her plate, means that

her most secret wishes, mostly related

to the man of her dreams, will

come true.

“Before I got married, I always ate

salty cookies on the eve of St. Sarkis.

That tradition was so exciting,

that together with my cousins and

girlfriends, we always waited eagerly

for that day,” says Seda Abrahamyan,

27, from Yerevan. “But I

have never seen my future husband

in my dreams,” she laughs.

Rediscovering the roots

In the recent years, as the western

tradition of celebrating St. Valentine’s

Day as the day of love has

been finding stronger roots in the

life of Armenians in Yerevan, the

The Armenian Church is paying special attention to St. Sarkis Day. Photolure.

Day of St. Sarkis has attained a new

mission, rivaling that of St. Valentine

and reminding young people

that Armenians have their own

national patron saint for love and

youth.

“In recent years the Day of St.

Valentine was easily established

among the youth as a tempting

novelty since the Day of St. Sarkis,

among many other national and

religious days, had been expelled

Hovhannes Toumanian’s “Paregentan” retold

from the lives of the Armenians

during the Soviet era,” explains

Ms. Kharadyan. “It was only at that

time that the Armenian Church

in Armenia recalled St. Sarkis as

a guardian from the storms, but

mostly as patron for love and the

youth, carrying the same functions

as St. Valentine’s Day,” she adds.

“Our culture of holidays in Armenia

is very poor, and any attempt

to revive our national holidays is

positive,” says Ms. Kharadyan. “So

few of our Armenian national holidays

are widespread in Armenian

society and they lack a scenario of

celebration.”

For the past several years the Araratian

Patriarchal Diocese has carried

out an exhaustive campaign in

the form of publications and folk

festivals to spread the tradition of

marking St.Sarkis among young

Armenians.

“I am glad to say that the interest

in and knowledge of St. Sarkis is

living a rebirth with the youth in

Armenia,” says Eliza Manukyan,

the head of the Press Center of the

Diocese. “If in the past, the youth

asked questions mostly on when

the salty cookies should be eaten,

last year and this year the youth

want to know more about the spiritual

aspects of marking St.Sarkis.”

A festive event marking St. Sarkis,

unprecedented in its magnitude,

took place at Lovers’ Park in

Yerevan, organized by the Diocese

and the Boghossian Gardens Fund.

The festival included acrobats, national-traditional

games, folk dance

groups, and a concert. A horseman

went around the gardens passing

out gifts and salty cookies.

On St. Sarkis, all the churches of

the Araratian Patriarchal Diocese

were open until midnight. Ms. Manukyan

recalls last year’s celebration

“when the churches were so

crowded throughout the night that

many people lit their candles on the

outside walls of the churches.” f

connect: www.araratyan-tem.am

adapted by Betty

Panossian-Ter Sarkissian

Once upon a time, a man and his

wife lived in a village. They did not

like each other. The man called his

wife silly and the wife called her

husband the same, too, and they

kept quarreling all the time.

One day, the husband buys several

pounds of butter and rice and

takes it home to his wife.

The wife loses her temper. “When

I say you are silly, you do not believe

me. What were you thinking

buying so much butter and rice! Is

it you father’s funeral, or your son’s

wedding”

“What funeral! What wedding!

What are you talking about Keep

them aside. They are for Paregentan,”

answers the husband.

The wife calms down and puts

the sacks aside.

Time passes. The wife waits and

waits for Paregentan, but he does

not show up. One day, while she is

sitting at the doorstep, she notices

a young man hurrying down the

street. She starts calling out to him.

“Brother! O brother! Could you be

the Paregentan”

The passerby notices that there is

something silly about this woman

and thinks: “Let me say ‘yes’ and

see what happens.”

“Yeah! I am Paregentan. What is it

that you want”

“What I want is to say that we are

not your servants to take care of

Celebrating the feast of Paregentan (akin to Fat Sunday). Photo: Photolure.

your butter and rice. It is enough

already. Are you not ashamed of

yourself What are you waiting

for! Come inside and take your

sacks out of our home,” the woman

says.

“Do not get upset, dear Madam.

That is the very reason I am here.

All this time I have been looking for

your house and could not find it.”

Saying this, the young man takes

the sacks of butter and rice and

quickly makes his way toward his

own village.

In the evening, the husband returns

home. The wife boasts:

“That Paregentan came along, I

gave him a good talking to and he

took his stuff away with him.”

“What Paregentan What stuff”

“That butter and rice. I saw that

he was hurrying along the street

looking for our house. I called him

in, gave him a piece of my mind,

and made him take his sacks away,”

replies the wife.

“For Heaven’s sake! When I tell

you are silly, you are indeed silly.

Where did he go”

“There he went,” the wife says

pointing to the direction Paregentan

went.

The husband mounts his horse

and runs after Paregentan. On

his way, Paregentan turns around

and notices a horseman dashing

towards his direction. He takes in

that this must be that woman’s

husband. Quickly, he hides the

sacks behind the bushes.

The horseman comes up to the

man.

“Good day, brother.”

“Good day.”

“Have you seen a man passing

this way”

“Yes, I have.”

“What was he carrying on his

back”

“Sacks of butter and rice.”

“He is the one I want. How much

time has passed since”

“Quite some time.”

“What do you think Can I make

it to him on horseback”

“How could you! You are on

a horseback and he is on his feet.

Whilst your horse shifts his four

feet, first the first one, then the

second, then the third, and then

the fourth, the man will quickly

run away with his two feet, onetwo,

one-two, one-two, and will

beat you in the race.”

“Then what should I do”

“What do you think you should

do If you want to, you can leave

your horse with me and run on

your feet the same way as that man

did. Perhaps then you could catch

him.”

“That is a good idea,” says the husband

and, leaving the horse with

Paregentan, continues his way on

foot. As soon as he is out of sight,

Paregentan mounts on the horse

together with the butter and rice,

turns away, and runs.

For a long while, the husband

goes on foot and seeing that he is

not making it to the man, turns

back. He comes back to the same

point and sees that his horse has

gone, too.

He goes back home. The husband

and his wife start quarreling

all over again, the husband for the

butter and the rice, and the wife

for the horse.

Up till now the husband and the

wife keep quarreling. The man calls

his wife silly, and the wife calls his

husband the same, and Paregentan

snoops in and laughs. f


18 The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009

Editorial

Commentary

the armenian

reporter

Armenia and diaspora alike pursue affirmation

Speaking of efforts to improve relations between Armenia and Turkey, the Turkish prime

minister said a few days ago, “The Armenian diaspora is plotting.”

The Turkish government could “see very clearly and sharply” that the diaspora is “utilizing”

against Turkey the issue of the Genocide, he said. “This is obvious. But I also see

that the current administration in Armenia doesn’t take part in this” (Today’s Zaman,

Jan. 29).

Is there any truth to the prime minister’s assertion

Is the quest for universal affirmation of the Armenian Genocide primarily the diaspora’s

issue Are Armenia and the diaspora are at odds over this issue Does Armenia not support

universal affirmation of the genocide

The prime minister certainly knows that almost the entire population of Armenia comes

out every April 24 to make the pilgrimage to the Armenian Genocide memorial at Tzitzernakaberd.

And that Armenia’s national security strategy explicitly calls for pursuing

universal affirmation. But perhaps he wants us to think that “the current administration in

Armenia” doesn’t really take this commitment seriously.

A fund-raising event in Dubai on February 2 showed clearly that the Turkish prime minister

was mistaken.

What was remarkable about the event, organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation

in support of its advocacy activities in Europe and the Middle East, was the range of

support it got from Armenia.

First, the fund-raiser was supported by the president of Armenia, Serge Sargsian. In a letter

dated January 25, Mr. Sargsian reminded participants in the event of the importance of

united support for “our collective national goals,” including the “international recognition

of the Armenian Genocide.”

Second, the head of the Prosperous Armenia Party, a prosperous entrepreneur, attended

the event and made a significant donation.

Thus, the heads of the two political parties with the largest delegations in the National

Assembly – the president’s Republican Party of Armenia and the Prosperous Armenia Party

– set aside partisanship to support the efforts of another political party, the one with the

third-largest parliamentary mandate, to pursue the “Armenian Cause,” and above all, universal

affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

Add to this the fact that the event also had the support of prominent Russian-Armenian

and Middle Eastern Armenian figures, and the message is unmistakable: when it comes

to affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, there is no distance between Armenia and the

Armenian diaspora.

But who would have thought otherwise

f

Erdogan’s verbal assault pits Turkey against Israel

Genocide recognition seen

as leverage

But groups signal

willingness to move on

by Emil Sanamyan

WASHINGTON – Turkish prime minister

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s public squabble

with Israeli president Shimon Peres was

welcomed in Turkey and the rest of the Middle

East, but created anxiety in Israel and the

United States.

During a January 29 panel discussion at

the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland,

Mr. Erdogan became increasingly

agitated as Mr. Peres defended the recent

Israeli military action against Palestinians

in Gaza. During his speech, the Israeli

president raised his voice and pointed his

finger at Mr. Erdogan, who had earlier condemned

Israeli action as a “crime against

humanity.”

In response Mr. Erdogan angrily described

Israeli leaders as murderers and sadists.

“When it comes to killing, you know well

how to kill,” he told Mr. Peres. “I know very

well how you killed children on the beaches.

Two of Israel’s prime ministers personally

told me that they felt happy when they [invaded]

Gaza.”

The Turkish leader condemned those present

for applauding Mr. Peres and stormed

out. The packed audience at the forum included

a number of foreign officials, including

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President

Barack Obama.

“New World leader” who

“humiliated the Zionists”

Thousands of Turks welcomed Mr. Erdogan

as he arrived at Istanbul airport in the early

hours of January 30. Waving Turkish and

Palestinian flags, crowds held signs that read

“welcome conqueror of Davos” and “a new

world leader,” according to the Jamestown

Foundation’s summary of Turkish TV and

press reports.

In Davos, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan points his finger at Israel’s President Shimon Peres.

“I only know that I’m responsible for protecting

the honor of the Turkish Republic,

the Turkish nation from A to Z,” Mr. Erdogan

said at the airport, the New York Times

reported. “It was a matter of my country’s

respect and prestige. I couldn’t have allowed

anyone to hurt the prestige and especially

the honor of my country.”

Leader of Turkish ultra-nationalists Devlet

Bahceli praised Mr. Erdogan, expressing

hope that his assertive tone would also be

reflected in dealing with Kurds and “relations

with Armenians against the so-called

genocide claims.”

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

chimed in, welcoming the Turkish premier’s

demarche, saying it “humiliated the

Zionists” and “disgraced” Israel, Press TV

reported. One of the Iranian ayatollahs suggested

that Mr. Erdogan deserved a Nobel

Peace Prize for his activism.

But Artak Shakarian, an Armenian expert

on Turkey, argued that Mr. Erdogan’s

rhetoric was meant in part to sideline Iran

and position Turkey as the “leading defender

of the Muslim world,” Regnum news agency

reported on February 2.

And Cengiz Candar, a Turkish expert on

the Middle East, told Radikal newspaper that

Turkey gained “moral leadership” in the region,

even though the region’s Arab leaders

themselves appeared to be less than thrilled

with Mr. Erdogan’s rhetoric.

Victim of “biased” moderation

In a press conference after the panel and

before departing Switzerland, Mr. Erdogan

stressed that he condemned anti-Semitism

and that he had no intention to sever Israel-

Turkish ties.

Instead, Mr. Erdogan channeled his anger

toward the panel’s moderator, David Ignatius

of the Washington Post, complaining

that he had allocated less time to him than

to Mr. Peres.

Several Turkish and Azerbaijani media

outlets focused on Mr. Ignatius’s ethnicity.

Azeri Press Agency (APA) ran a short

story with the revealing headline, “Moderator

of panel cutting Erdogan off is of

Armenian origin.” In tortured English APA

alleged that “Ignatius [was] supporting socalled

Armenian genocide did not want his

nationality was on the agenda. He bewares

of opinions casting shadow upon his objectivity.”

One of the leading Turkish newspapers,

Hurriyet, suggested that Mr. Ignatius was in

cahoots with the “Armenian lobby” and described

him as “Jewish American journalist

of Armenian descent.”

The latter description is not surprising

since, according to a recent opinion poll, a

significant portion of Turks believe that

Armenians are of Jewish faith, and Turkish

nationalists tend to target both Jews and Armenians.

(In reality, Mr. Ignatius is of Armenian descent

and has written about it. His father

Paul Ignatius, born Poghos Ignatosian to a

family of immigrants from Kharpert, served

as Secretary of the Navy in the late 1960s and

was president of the Washington Post.)

Misunderstood “friend of

Israel”

In aftermath of the incident both Turkish

and Israeli officials were at pains to suggest

that nothing extraordinary had happened.

Israel’s ambassador to Turkey, Gabby

Levy, was quoted on Turkish television as

saying: “There can be a difference in opinion

between close, friendly countries from time

to time, and we, Turkey and Israel, especially

have different views on Hamas and Iran.”

Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation

League repeated the argument to the

Jerusalem Post, saying cooperation would

continue despite the “inappropriate harsh

statement by the [Turkish] leadership.” He

told the New York Times that the league had

not changed its opposition to the Armenian

Genocide bill in Congress.

The Economist noted that “Israel has invariably

chosen to turn a deaf ear to Turkey’s occasionally

fierce rhetoric for the sake of that

strategic liaison,” recalling that Mr. Erdogan

called Israel a “terrorist state” back in 2004.

Nevertheless, Turkey and Israel have continued

to enjoy growing commercial ties, with

more than half a million Israelis vacationing

in Turkey last year.

But this time around, a number of Western

commentators argued the unprecedented

level of mutual rancor undermined Turkey’s

Continued on page 19 m

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

is published weekly by Armenian Reporter llc.

Gerard L. Cafesjian, President and ceo

Publisher Sylva A. Boghossian

Office manager Lisa Kopooshian

Copyright © 2009 by Armenian

Reporter llc. All Rights Reserved

Periodicals postage paid at Paramus, N.J., and

additional mailing offices.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to PO Box

129, Paramus, NJ 07652-0129.

The views expressed, except in the editorial, are

not necessarily those of the publishers.

Editor Vincent Lima

Western U.S. Bureau Chief and

Arts & Culture editor Paul Chaderjian

Eastern U.S. editor Lou Ann Matossian

Washington editor Emil Sanamyan

Associate editor Maria Titizian

Assistant to the Editor Seda Stepanyan

Copy editor Ishkhan Jinbashian

Art director Grigor Hakobyan

Layout assistant Nareh Balian

The Armenian Reporter is your newspaper. We urge you to send us your news and your

views.

News. Please send your news to .

Letters. Please send your letters to Letters should be no more

than 250 words long and may be edited for clarity. Please include your mailing address

and daytime telephone number.

Commentary. Please send your essays to Essays and articles

normally should be no longer than 900 words.

Photos and artwork. We require high-resolution originals. All photos and artwork

must include a credit to the photographer and a signed statement granting us permission

to publish.

Advertising and subscriptions. Please direct questions to or

call us.

Our offices

PO Box 129

Paramus NJ 07652

1-201-226-1995 phone

1-201-226-1660 fax

2727 West Alameda Blvd

Burbank CA 91505

1-818-955-9933 phone

1-818-955-8799 fax

1 Yeghvard Hwy Fl 5

Yerevan 0054 Armenia

374-10-367-195 phone

374-10-367-194 fax


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009 19

Commentary

Living in

Armenia

Taxi drivers – from the comical to the ridiculous

by Maria Titizian

As the taxi was hurtling along the winding lanes

of the main highway leading into Yerevan, I

could no longer control my rising anger. “Would

you please slow down” I asked a little too loudly.

The Michael Schumacher wannabe finally released

his lead foot from the accelerator and we

slowed to a much more normal speed.

Two minutes later the driver turned to me

and asked if I thought he had done something

wrong. Had he committed a single

traffic violation, he asked, while in the same

breath informing me that he was a “first class”

driver – a category harking back to the days

of the Soviet Union, which for some illogical

reason gets my back up.

I was so angry at his erratic speeding, that

even after several minutes of calm coasting I

didn’t have the patience to answer his question.

I did remind him that at the outset of

our journey we had told him that we were in

no rush and for him to drive within the speed

limits. He ignored what I said and repeated

his question once again. Had we not been in

the middle of nowhere, I would have told him

to stop the car so that I could get out.

My girlfriend, who as it turned out, was

much more level-headed than I was, attempted

to explain to the now irate driver

that it wasn’t his driving necessarily that was

a concern, but that other drivers on the icy

roads may not be as experienced as he, may

cut in front of him, and due to the law of

physics, that would increase our chances of

being seriously hurt if he was driving too

fast, and on and on. I stared at her rather incredulously

wondering where she found the

well of patience to deal with such behavior

after living in Armenia for over a decade now.

Instead of apologizing for speeding and making

us, his paying passengers, nervous and

uncomfortable, he was accusing us of being

unreasonable.

Taxi drivers in Armenia are a special breed.

Their cars are a completely different matter.

When we first moved to Armenia, every piece

of junk with four wheels had been converted

Erdogan’s verbal

assault

n Continued from page 18

image as a pro-Western country. Anonymous

figures in the Israeli government and Jewish-

American groups sought to remind Turkey of

potential repercussions.

List of possible punishments

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli

Defense Ministry was considering imposing

restrictions on types of weapons systems Israel

sold to Turkey.

“Just like we don’t sell advanced military

platforms to Jordan and Egypt [Arab states

that signed peace agreements with Israel],

we may decide not to sell to Turkey,” the

newspaper cited a senior defense official as

saying.

It also cited a senior diplomatic official as

saying that Turkey “lost all credibility as an

honest broker” in negotiations between Israel

and Syria. And, furthermore, that “there

won’t be any [Israeli] communication with

Erdogan himself. He went too far, and we

simply can’t trust him again.”

And “an official with a leading American

Jewish organization” warned that “next time”

Jews and Israelis “might not come to Turkey’s

aid or equivocate quite so much on the

issue” of congressional resolutions on the Armenian

Genocide.

Similarly, the Economist predicted on January

29, “if anti-Israeli rhetoric in Turkey persists,

the Israeli lobby in the United states

could hit back by backing a congressional

resolution to call the mass killings by Turks

of some 1m Armenians ‘genocide’.”

The British newspaper further revealed,

“the Israelis persuaded the Turks to cancel

a proposed essay and drawing contest for

schoolchildren to air their feelings of hatred

towards Israel [over the war in Gaza].

“Israeli officials were apparently poised to

respond by proposing a programme in Israeli

schools for discussing the genocide of Armenians

by Turks in the first world war.” f

into a taxi. The signs placed on top of their

cars were usually imported from Turkey and

read TAKSİ. All taxis back then had the mandatory

wool carpets, usually cheap imitations of

oriental rugs, covering the seats, purportedly

to protect the upholstery; but in Yerevan’s

sweltering summers, sitting on one of those

carpets was like being burned at the stake.

I remember one time climbing into the

back seat of a taxi that had been parked on

a street corner. As soon as I sat, the seat

sank about half a foot. It’s a pretty safe bet

to say that the coil springs were no longer

operational. I tolerated sitting in the sagging

back seat of a 1972 Russian-made Volga, with

oriental carpets covering the upholstery

– until about 50 flies appeared mysteriously

and started buzzing around me. Thankfully,

those days are for the most part over. The

overriding majority of taxicabs today comply

with most international standards, with

a few exceptions.

The cars and any of their mechanical deficiencies

are bearable in the face of cynical,

opinionated, and unreasonable drivers. It’s

certainly not fair to lump all taxi drivers in

one category; there are those who are familiar

with the city and don’t get lost. There

are those who don’t smoke when there are

passengers in the car with children. There are

those who don’t make very primitive traffic

violations, who don’t speed, and who don’t

start driving until all passengers are safely in

the car and all doors are closed.

The tendency with most cab drivers in Yerevan

is to strike up a conversation with their

passengers, especially if they’re repats, diaspora

Armenians, or tourists. The locals have learned

not to engage drivers because once they have

your attention, they just don’t let up.

We have a taxi company that we regularly

use, and one of their drivers, Arsen, who is

usually on the morning shift, picks me up

from home and drives me to work. He just had

his first child, a son they named Arman, who

is now 7 weeks old. His wife, who is 35 and

who was told by family, friends, and doctors

alike that she would have a difficult delivery

because of her very “advanced” age, delivered

Reading Morgenthau

by Kay Mouradian

Prior to writing my novel, A Gift in the Sunlight:

An Armenian Story, I spent several

months researching the life of Henry Morgenthau,

Sr., in an effort to learn more about

the Armenian Genocide and the harrowing

experiences of my family during the Catastrophe.

As the American ambassador to the Ottoman

Empire from 1913 to 1916, Morgenthau

championed the Armenian Cause, and I

wanted to know more about him. What kind

of man was he and how much of what he said

about the events of 1915 could be trusted,

considering there were those who had tried

to question his motives

After reading through ten microfilmed

reels of Ambassador Morgenthau’s State Department

papers in the Manuscript Division

of the Library of Congress, I went to Hyde

Park, New York, to spend a week researching

Morgenthau’s personal papers, which had

been donated to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Library. That particular adventure took

my breath away because the documents had

not yet been microfilmed.

As a researcher delving into history, my

very act of touching and feeling the texture

of the paper on which those personal letters

were written jolted me back into Morgenthau’s

family – as if I had been there watching

and observing.

I quickly read the letter on top of the first

stack of papers presented to me. It was a

short note to her father from Helen, Morgenthau’s

eldest daughter, who at the time

was ten years old. The family was vacationing

in the Pocono Mountains while Morgenthau

continued working through the hot and

humid summer in New York City. As I read

the salutation, “To my sweet little Papa,” my

eyes welled. I felt the deep love of a child for

her father and a tear rolled down my cheek.

Helen then complained that her mother said

Arman in three hours flat and is doing fine.

She’s staying with her mother for a couple of

days, because it was her mom’s 60th birthday

and she was feeling under the weather, so

Arsen’s wife went to stay with her along with

the little Arman. Arsen smokes Marlboros;

can’t go for more then a few minutes without

lighting one up; doesn’t intend on being a

taxi driver for the rest of his life, because the

hours are long and the pay is measly. He has

had three tickets in the last month, because

all the traffic police are “corrupt.”

Why do I know this information Why I

don’t initiate conversation with them. I just

get in the car and tell them where to take

me. But then they ask a question, and I hate

being rude or uninterested, so I answer. Then

they make a comment about a driver or a

pedestrian, or a past presidential candidate,

and then they have me in their hooks. And

then I end up knowing everything about

drivers like Arsen, his seven-week-old son,

his 35-year-old wife who had him in three

hours flat, and on and on.

The most comical thing about Armenian

taxi drivers in Yerevan is their cynicism. I

have yet to come across a driver who is more

or less content with his life. Nope. Nothing

doing. It was better during the Soviet years,

one older taxi driver was telling my son and

me one day. Everybody lived like princes. We

never had to worry about anything. What is

this now We have to pay for electricity, water,

gas! Who ever heard of such a thing We

could go to the Black Sea for two weeks for 50

rubles. That was the life.

I try not to get engaged, but how can I

remain silent when someone says things like

she was getting fat and wouldn’t let her eat

in between meals. “She’s making me starve,”

Helen wrote and underlined the word

“starve.” She ended the letter with, “Your loving

daughter, Helen.”

The next letter that graced my hands was

from Morgenthau to his wife. He advised

her not to mention Helen’s weight gain but

instead to encourage the youngster to play

tennis and ride horses, and then the weight

would take care of itself. That pragmatic advice

told me much about him. In fact, the

more I read as the days progressed, the more

I realized Morgenthau had an acute ability to

see the long view and that astuteness guided

the choices he made throughout his life. He

became a diplomat extraordinaire and a noble

humanitarian, and his power resonated

from steadfastness in truth.

As I scoured those reels of microfilm from

the Library of Congress, I read and reread

Morgenthau’s succinct explanation of the

Armenian Question in reel 22. Here he discussed

the Armenian religion and churches

as well as the numerous Armenian massacres.

In relating the acts of oppression,

he categorized them as political, economic,

social, and religious, and depicted the

methods used by the Ottoman Turks to exterminate

the Armenian population. “The

Turks want Turkey for the Turks alone,” he

stated. “Therefore by all imaginable means

they have tried to exterminate the Armenians.

A misconceived, narrow, nationalism

– combined with a fanaticism of the

blindest and darkest kind – has been one

of the chief causes of these unprecedented

persecutions.”

There have been those who have suggested

that one of the reasons for the Genocide was

the fact that the Armenians’ outstanding cultural

and commercial achievements and, ultimately,

great affluence created resentment

among the Turkish masses. I never felt that

reasoning constituted the relentless depth

of threat felt by those Turks in power who

that Don’t you think that’s the reason that

the Soviet Union collapsed, I ask. Bah! he

says and in the same breath continues, You

know, Levon wasn’t as bad as they are telling

you he was. I don’t know what the anti-

Soviet activist Levon Ter-Petrossian had to

do with living better in the Soviet years, but

I guess he felt he had to show his support for

the former president of Armenia.

Today everything is miserable, he goes on.

I tell him to tone it down, that my impressionable

son is in the car and it’s not good

that they poison the new generation’s mind.

Unyielding, he turns to my son and says, “My

son, this country is going to hell!”

On top of the cynicism and discontent,

is their severely opinionated position on

everything. One cabbie bragged to me that

he has driven a representative of practically

every nationality on earth. Turning to face

me while driving, he said that in his opinion

Americans were the most sloppy race. How is

it that you came to that conclusion, I asked

him. “Ha!” he says. “They put their feet up

on the seat. I tell them, ‘What about my next

customer You dirty my seat and then the

next customer will dirty his or her clothes,’”

he tells me like he has just discovered the

secret to enriching uranium. “Ha!” I say. “You

complain about people putting their feet

on your car seat but by the same token, you

wouldn’t think twice about throwing your

empty cigarette box or an empty Coke bottle

out the window, no” But what does that

have to do with their feet on my seat, he asks

emphatically.

I say, never mind. You’re right. Just take

me to work, please.

f

feared losing Armenia just as they had lost

the Balkans in 1912. But Morgenthau suggests

that the progress of the Armenians in

Asia Minor did play a role and cites the example

of the Province of Sivas, where the

Armenian population was not as large as in

some other vilayets. He writes:

“Of the 153 factories in the vilayet of Sivas,

130 belonged to Armenians, 20 to Turks.

“The number of workmen amounted to

17,000, of these 14,000 were Armenians.

“Of 316 merchants, 268 were Armenians, 36

Turks, and 12 Greeks.

“Of 37 bankers, 32 were Armenians and five

Turks.

As the Turks could not overtake the Armenians,

the government would periodically

organize massacres and hamper them all the

time in order to check their progress.”

Morgenthau also mentions differences

in education. Just before the deportations,

there were “785 Armenian schools in Turkey,

with an attendance of 82,000 students, while

there are only 150 Turkish schools, with an

attendance of 17,000.

“The Kurds do not have a single school.

“This ignorance of the Turks, coupled with

religious prejudices, has been another cause

of disagreement between the Turks and the

Armenians, and has rendered the masses of

the Turks a ready tool of persecution in the

hands of wicked leaders.”

In 1878–79, Sultan Abdulhamit II had been

forced to cede two-fifths of Ottoman territory.

Between 1908 and 1913, under the Young

Turks, another 425,000 square miles, or over

one-third of the remaining empire, was lost.

Resolved not to give up more land after the

Ottomans were defeated in the Balkan War,

Interior Minister Talaat Pasha told Morgenthau,

“We will not lose Armenia.” Today what

used to be Western Armenia is part of Turkey.

f

connect:

aGiftInTheSunlight.com


20 The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009


The Armenian Reporter | February 7, 2009

A R M E N I A N N AT I O N A L

C O M M I T T E E O F A M E R I C A

2 0 0 9

Te l e t h o n

M AY 3 1, 2 0 0 9

O n e N a t i o n O n e F u t u r e O n e C a u s e

T E L E T H O N ‘ O 9

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines