Thursday, 31 July 2008

'Wedding Cake'

Monument, Jodie Carey’s wedding cake decorated with hand-crafted sugar-flowers involved individually casting 2000 bones. In the artist’s words, “The sheer number of bones references the killing fields of war-torn countries. When juxtaposed with the language of cake decorating, which is so symbolic of Middle England and its obsession with keeping up appearances, the monument speaks of the sickness of taking violence and evil in our stride.”

For sure, "keeping up appearances" part is relevant not only for Middle England.

*As seen in an exhibition of London's emerging artists, Selfridges, London.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Azeri authorities plan to set up an agency to supervise Internet

Conveniently ahead of presidential elections...

*via Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders and the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS), an Azerbaijani NGO that defends the rights of journalists, wrote to communications and information technology minister Ali Abbasov today asking him to explain the responsibilities of a state agency he plans to create to oversee Internet security.

Abbasov told the Azerbaijan Press Agency (APA) on 19 July that he wanted to set up an agency to supervise the Internet in Azerbaijan and prevent cyber-crimes.

“This plan poses a potential threat to online free speech as its duties are very vague,” the two organisations said. “By monitoring the Internet, the authorities will be able to track down those who criticise the government. Defamation lawsuits are already the preferred method of censorship in Azerbaijan, with the independent and opposition media being constantly harassed by the government.”

The two organisations added: “We therefore call on the minister to provide details about this planned agency and about the guarantees that he will give regarding respect for online freedom of expression.”

Most of Azerbaijan’s Internet Service Providers cannot use their own satellite network to access the Internet and must submit to state control. The communications ministry offers its own Internet access service through Bakinternet (

Three journalists are currently in prison in Azerbaijan, serving sentences ranging from two and a half years to four years in prison. They are Eynulla Fatullaev, the editor of the dailies Realny Azerbaijan and Gundalik Azerbaijan, Ganimat Zahidov, the editor of the opposition daily Azadlig, and his older brother Sakit Zahidov, a contributor to the newspaper.

Ganimat Zahidov was given a four-year sentence by a Baku court on 7 March on charges of “aggravated hooliganism” and assault and battery.” Hearings in his appeal began on 7 May.IRFS also considers Bizim Yol Newspaper journalist Mushfig Huseynov, who was arrested for taking a bribe, to be wrongfully imprisoned.

More information about the press freedom situation in Azerbaijan

You may also find relevant articles under Azerbaijan related posts in Unzipped: Gay Armenia

Zaruhi Postanjyan: “Fearless In Face Of Authority”

I highly recommend reading this profile of Zaruhi Postanjyan, MP, published by RFE/RL. She instantly became one of my favourite Armenians, a champion of human rights, woman of the year, you name it...

This extensive profile of Zaruhi contains both known and unknown facts of her routine and professional life and activism.

Here I re-post more personal and unknown facts about her.

Favorite books? Detective stories.

How do you relax? I like having a rest at the lakeside. For example, at Lake Sevan. Or home, alone.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Where crucial decisions for Armenia are being made.

What is your greatest regret? That the "cream of society" has slowly left Armenia and gone abroad.

What is your worst vice or extravagance? My inability to forgive.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? To be always on the go, setting goals one after another, and achieving them, on and on.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Historian.

What was the best day or your life? The day I met my future husband. I was 17.

What would people be surprised to know about you? That I sometimes go around my house naked.

What is your greatest fear? Getting a shot at the doctor's.

What do you wish you were better at? Giving more time to my family. Everything I've achieved is at their expense, especially at the expense of my children.

As a deputy, Postanjian dresses casually, and without embarrassment. It's not unusual for her to turn up for a parliament session wearing jeans tucked into cowboy boots, dressed more for a night out than for a daytime debate. It's the same insouciance she displayed as a teenager when, as the Soviet Union was crumbling, Postanjian renounced her membership in Komsomol, the communist youth organization, and began attending demonstrations and public rallies in the city.

Born in Yerevan, Postanjian attended Russian School No. 132 and graduated from Yerevan's MYUD Law Institute in 1994. She received her lawyer's license in 1999, and subsequently pursued advanced work in criminal law through the American Bar Association in Florida. Her personal passions sent her to Lund University in Sweden in 2003 to study human rights law, and to the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Warsaw in 2004-05.

Today, Postanjian says, she's too busy for friends, and sometimes even for family.

"My parents have done and are doing everything for all my intentions to be realized, but I can spare very little time to spend with them. I don't see them often," she confesses. "When I myself became a mother, I was very young, only 20, and at that time it was purely an obligation for me. I didn't feel the pleasure. Now, with the 5-year-old daughter, I am starting to understand what motherhood is."

She married Suren Drampian, a dentist, in 1993. He says he understands his wife's passion in pursuit of human rights, but admits that sometimes he tells her: "You've had enough. Stay at home. You know what predators are out there. Who are you fighting against? We have children, don't we?"

Recently, Postanjian told faction head Raffi Hovannisian that she wants to have a fourth child.

"Only Zara can do both things at one time," Hovannisian said, "carrying out the highest and most sacred mission of giving birth to a child and providing mothering and being people’s elected representative and an active parliament deputy."

Says Postanjian: "I want every Armenian to be willing to live in Armenia, to have children here and to see their children's future only in Armenia."

*Thanks to Myrthe for the link!
**photos - by RFE/RL

Friday, 25 July 2008

Armenia-Iran: 'If you come to Yerevan for a month, you will stay in Yerevan forever'

Everything is known in comparison, as they say. While for many Armenians the state of democracy and freedom in their country deemed to be unsatisfactory, to say the least, and worth fighting for, for Iranians Armenia is considered as a “beacon of freedom” where they can enjoy and try things they can’t do back home. Today BBC publishes report on that special relations developed over the past years between isolated for different reasons Armenia and Iran.

Below are selected extracts from the report (headings mine). Full report is available here

Noy Brandy's wine-tasting sessions are popular with Iranian tourists.

"Ten metres underground, they think Allah is out of range." "They don't want to taste the wine, they want to drink it." (tour guide Anna from Armenia)

Cafe culture/Nightclubs
"In summer I think that 90% of tourists are Iranian. Armenia is so close by and has attractive things - cafes and nightclubs, and beautiful Lake Sevan." (student and businessman from Iran)

Twenty-year-old Mehdez [student from Iran] explains that Armenia is popular with thousands of young people who cannot get a place in Iran's over-subscribed higher education system. "I chose to study in Yerevan because it's an easier situation. Here we have more freedom," she says. "But of course anything that we do here, we can do in Iran - just not in public."

Liberalised economy and ‘benefits of isolation’
Part of that freedom includes an increasingly liberalised economy, and that makes Armenia attractive to foreign investment. The Armenian capital is hardly an international economic powerhouse, but there are signs that Iranian investors sense an opportunity. (BBC)

Like many of his compatriots, Muhammad [businessman from Iran] benefits from Armenia's geographical isolation. Practically every item he sells - from pots and pans to air-fresheners - has been imported from Iran.

US disapproval
That has not stopped the United States from expressing concern about Armenia's ties with its neighbour. Those ties include the new Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, frequent bilateral talks and state visits, not to mention a sizable Armenian minority in northern Iran. In this year's Country Reports on Terrorism, the US state department said warming relations between the two countries made Armenia "reluctant to criticise publicly objectionable Iranian conduct". The little country courts the Americans, Europeans and Russians. It is a difficult balancing act to follow. But Armenia's unique relationship with the regional power - Iran - is one it cannot afford to abandon. Moreover, the two countries are united by a shared sense of isolation from the rest of the world. (BBC)

‘Yerevan forever’
"I like Armenian people, and it's difficult for me to want to leave my friends. When you come to Yerevan for a month, you will stay in Yerevan forever!" (student and businessman from Iran)

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Stark warning from PACE to Armenian authorities: Make progress, or face consequences (“scandal”)

“We need for this date [11 September] guarantees that the [PACE] resolutions can be implemented”. If there would be no progress observed in Armenia till 11 September, Armenia would face scandalous situation in the Council of Europe with catastrophic consequences for the country, and much sooner than January 2009 deadline.

*The president of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), Luis Maria de Puig, speaking today with Radio Liberty (Armenia).

'Love triangle' of Armenian politics, or three's a crowd

Comment of the Day

Hmayak Hovhannisyan, head of the Union of Political Scientists, Armenia (

In Armenia we have the triangle of three presidents, the first, second and third, which has one resemblance to the love triangle: one of the three should leave. This is the description by Hmayak Hovanisyan, the president of the Union of Political Scientists, who was hosted at the Iravunk de facto press club. Hmayak Hovanisyan said such a situation favors neither Levon Ter-Petrosyan nor Serge Sargsyan, it favors only Robert Kocharyan who is worried because he feels that Serge Sargsyan is gradually clearing his only lever of influence, the bureaucracy.

Hmayak Hovanisyan thinks it is not clear why Serge Sargsyan is ridding of Robert Kocharyan’s influence which actually upset his presidency so slowly but he notes that the process is nevertheless underway and it worries Robert Kocharyan who tries to show to the system through interviews that it cannot feel secure with Serge Sargsyan.

According to Hmayak Hovanisyan, Robert Kocharyan’s other pillar is the parliament which was formed during his presidency. In this connection, the political scientist thinks that if Levon Ter-Petrosyan and Serge Sargsyan reach agreement to hold an early parliamentary election, which is in the interests of both, they will destroy Robert Kocharyan’s possibility to become prime minister.

In that case, the political scientist thinks that Robert Kocharyan will have to accept the status of the youngest pensioner or the youngest prisoner.

Հայաստանում առկա է երեք նախագահների եռանկյունի` առաջին, երկրորդ, երրորդ նախագահների, որը սիրային եռանկյունու հետ ունի մեկ նմանություն` երեքից մեկն ավելորդ է եւ պետք է հեռանա: Այդ բնորոշման հեղինակը Քաղաքագետների միության նախագահ Հմայակ Հովհաննիսյանն է, ով հուլիսի 24-ին Իրավունք դե ֆակտո ակումբում հանդիպել է լրագրողների հետ: Հմայակ Հովհաննիսյանը նշել է, թե իրավիճակի սրացումը որեւէ կերպ ձեռնտու չէ Լեւոն Տեր-Պետրոսյանին եւ Սերժ Սարգսյանին, այլ ձեռնտու է միայն Ռոբերտ Քոչարյանին, ով ցայտնոտի մեջ է, քանի որ զգում է, որ իշխանական համակարգի վրա իր ազդեցության միակ լծակ բյուրոկրատիան Սերժ Սարգսյանը կամաց կամաց մաքրում է:

Հմայակ Հովհաննիսյանն իհարկե անհասկանալի է համարել, որ Սերժ Սարգսյանն այդպես դանդաղ է ազատվում իր նախագահությունը փաստացի հարամած Ռոբերտ Քոչարյանի ազդեցությունից, սակայն նկատել է, որ այդուհանդերձ այդ պրոցեսը առկա է եւ դա մտահոգում է Ռոբերտ Քոչարյանին, ով ցանկանում է արագ լուծել իր վերադարձի հարցը, հարցազրույցների միջոցով փաստացի համակարգին ցույց տալով, որ այն չի կարող իրեն ապահով զգալ Սերժ Սարգսյանի տանիքի տակ:

Հմայակ Հովհաննիսյանի խոսքով, Ռոբերտ Քոչարյանի հենարանն է նաեւ խորհրդարանը, որը ձեւավորվել է նրա նախագահության օրոք: Այդ առումով, քաղաքագետը համարում է, որ եթե Լեւոն Տեր-Պետրոսյանն ու Սերժ Սարգսյանը համաձայնության գան խորհրդարանի արտահերթ ընտրություն անցկացնելու ընդհանուր հարցում, ինչի կապակցությամբ ունեն ընդհանուր շահ, ապա կկանխեն Ռոբերտ Քոչարյանի վարչապետ դառնալու հնարավորությունը:

Այդ դեպքում, կարծում է քաղաքագետը, Ռոբերտ Քոչարյանը ստիպված կլինի հարմարվել ամենաերիտասարդ թոշակառուի, կամ ամենաերիտասարդ բանտարկյալի կարգավիճակով:

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

“Disservice to Armenian bloggers and presidential staff”, or how to ‘kill’ blogging in Armenia

Mark Grigoryan wrote an excellent post about inappropriateness of “invitation” of two pro-government bloggers to the press-conference of Armenia’s incumbent president Serj Sargsyan. It was inappropriate both in principle as well as taking into account "personalities" of those invited in terms of their pro-government and anti-opposition stance. As usual, they were presented as kind of ‘bloggers’ representatives’.

Mark Grigoryan argues, and I agree with him, that the format of blogs is quite different from that of mass media, and requires different skills. He doubts the information value of the “questions” asked by these bloggers, and quite rightly so.

I am afraid that the information value of their questions was not there. Emotional filling - certainly yes. "Questions” were anti-opposition… and that is all and nothing more.

One “question” was on how [opposition] sit-in in the Northern Avenue supposedly leads to bankruptcy of shopkeepers located there, and the other - on why police did not disperse rallies, which were not sanctioned by the authorities. […]

I am afraid that the fact of invitation of bloggers to the press-conference does not reflect their real weight and real significance in public life. What it reflects is the influence of few bloggers within the presidential staff. And if my fears are justified, it is "disservice" ["медвежья услуга"] both towards Armenian bloggers, and the presidential staff.
I can’t help myself but wonder: may be the real intention behind recent close engagements of presidential staff with few pro-government bloggers is to discredit blogs/blogging in the eyes of population, in general, from the beginning, without even allowing their further development. Taking into account yesterday’s press conference, this task could be easily accomplished, and very soon.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Armenia-Turkey: a breakthrough? (Serj Sargsyan – 100 days in the office)

Although publicly Turkish officials tried to play down the significance of recent high level “secret contacts” between representatives of our countries, Turkish Daily News has learned from sources that they “mark an important stage for future relations.”

Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry Ertuğrul Apakan and his deputy Ünal Çeviköz headed the Turkish delegation during the first round, which took place in May, and the second round in July, the TDN has learned. Both rounds were carried out in Bern, Switzerland, which is considered an impartial country that has hosted similar secretive talks on issues like Cyprus and Iran. […]

The timeline of the secretive negotiations, coinciding with some recent positive statements by Sargsyan, stands out, however, as a strong sign for improving the conditions in the run up to substantial solutions. The Armenian president has proposed a fresh start with Turkey with the goal of normalizing relations and opening the border between the two countries, which has been closed for almost 15 years. In his article published July 6 in The Wall Street Journal's online edition, Sargsyan said he expected to “announce a new symbolic start in the two countries' relations” with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gül whom he invited to Armenia to watch a football game between the countries' national teams this September.

Diplomatic sources said setting up different committees to discuss different aspects of bilateral ties is a mutually considered option for a fresh start. “There are other vital questions to be discussed primarily, before the events of 1915,” noted the same sources. A previous offer of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to establish a committee of historians to study events of 1915 was rejected by former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan. This time a more comprehensive approach is reportedly being considered.
Echoing editorial in Aravot daily today, I would say that shift in Turkey related policy was the most remarkable achievement of Armenia’s incumbent president Serj Sargsyan’s first 100 days in the office. Other than that (plus some positive but so far mainly talk and occasional firing level “corruption fight” agenda), these were disappointing 100 days of missed opportunities.

He had chance (still has, I suppose) to distance himself – as much as possible – from a previous administration. Yes, he is part of it, but still… he is kind of trying but in a very subtle manner, too subtle, I would say. We still have political prisoners, there is no independent investigation into 1 March events, no high level officials brought to the justice… All in all, no real attempt at healing 1 March wounds…

For now, only immediate release of all political prisoners will create an essential basis for a dialogue with the opposition to move Armenia forward. (his election campaign motto) Otherwise, the weather forecast for autumn and winter ahead promises to be pretty severe, indeed.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Roman Balayan: "Birds of Paradise"

Opening film of the Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival 2008


Early 80s in the Soviet Union... Listening to foreign broadcasting is prohibited; expressing one’s opinion is dangerous. One can openly speak only in the kitchen behind the closed curtain and find truth in the Samizdat materials (self-print) that is passed on secretly from friend to friend. KGB is phone tapping, watching over unreliable persons and planning annihilation of the dissidence. Young writer Sergey Goloborodko wrote the novel “Station Knol” that describing the reverse of “Real Socialism”. KGB agents are ready for everything: blackmails, arrests, assassinations for the sake of novel would not be published abroad, that truth about totalitarian order would not get over the iron curtain. The main friend of Sergey is pushed by KGB to betray him, the famous writer - Sergey's spiritual teacher is arrested and died in prison and the beloved woman is vanishing from his life... The characters are trying to fly away from these obstacles but it is not so easy to fly from oneself…

*source of film info and photo

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Bad news for "Hayots Ashkharh" propaganda lovers...

They put so much hope into this... Alas...

Lyudmila Ter-Petrosyan, wife of Armenia’s first president and leader of opposition movement Levon Ter-Petrosyan, returned back to Yerevan from LA and was seen today chatting with people in Northern avenue.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Armenia: 'macho' PM

... or shall I say PR, PR till the end?! It seems that our PM's PR machine is working at its full force. This particular news item apparently aimed at toughening PM Tigran Sargsyan image to accommodate our macho loving society preferences.

Armenian Prime Minister hit the "top ten" in the shooting on target

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan has demonstrated "excellent results" in the shooting on target. According to the "Novosti-Armenia", head of the Armenian Government hit the "top ten", shooting from a pistol "Beretta".

Unsurprisingly, "excellent sniper ability" were demonstrated by Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan, who hit the "top ten" too, using 12.7 mm calibre sniper rifle "Black Arrow".

Armenian PM, accompanied by Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan and other members of the government, was visiting our troops and military positions along the North-East borders on 12 July, Saturday.

*photo - via Aravot daily

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Monika Manucharova, 12, will represent Armenia in Junior Eurovision 2008, Cyprus

In 2007, for the first time, Armenia participated in Junior Eurovision Song Contest with Arevik band performing "Erazanq" ("Dream"). They were pretty successful and delivered an excellent and memorable performance, finishing 2nd after Belarus.

Monika Manucharova, 12, will represent Armenia in this year Junior Eurovision which will take place on 22 November, in Limassol, Cyprus, with her song "Im ergi hnchuny" ("Sounds of my song").

I got immensely touched by her fairy tale-like story as effectively homeless girl from a socially disadvantaged family in Gyumri (her family is homeless and they live with her uncle in his house) coming to the capital Yerevan and winning over the hearts of Armenian TV viewers who selected her out of 10 finalists.

“She came with her mother [from] Gyumri and spent the first couple of nights in the train station because of not having relatives in the capital Yerevan and not being able to afford a hotel room in Yerevan. Few days later, as Manucharova's talent made her to stand out from the other contestants she was noticed and one of the workers of the Armenian TV Radio took Monica and her mother to her house until she could complete the contest. Otherwise they were going to spend the rest of the nights in the train station, reports the Armenian Radio.”
It’s always difficult to be critical to children without hurting their feelings. But if someone decided to represent Armenia, she must be ready for some friendly criticism. She looks lovely, her voice has potential (in fact, quite mature for her age), but... The song itself is a bit boring. I could hardly force myself into listening to it till the end. This song needs to be worked on before the Junior Eurovision. They should come up with some kind of remixed version of it or so, to make it more appealing to the audience they are aiming at.

Good luck, Monika!

*source of photo - esckaz

PM Tigran Sargsyan: 'Armenian soldiers should have the opportunity to study, including use of computers'

Armenian army soldiers should not be separated from the public life, and the first task in this respect is to establish necessary conditions allowing soldiers to continue with their studies, believes prime minister Tigran Sargsyan (ARKA).

"In two years they must return to civilian life and be able to get into universities; that’s why together with the defence minister, we set the task to create conditions so that every soldier in the service had the opportunity to study, including use of computers", PM Sargsyan says. According to him, this will decrease the gap between school graduates and demobilized soldiers, allowing them to be admitted to the universities. "This is an extremely important task, therefore, military units must have special auditoriums for studying."

I am not sure how technically and practically would be possible to organise this, but if PM's quote turns into real, it would be a good contribution to the education field in Armenia and improving morale in Armenian army.

To ensure that this sort of positive changes could happen, more fundamental transformations need to occur in our army. For now, I can’t picture an auditorium within the army units where soldiers would go to study without being mocked by others. For now, this sounds more like a wishful thinking than reality any time soon.

Focus on political prisoners: Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner Hammarberg visits Armenia

Quite symptomatically, press release by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights office is accompanied by this photo of "Post-Election Protest Demonstration, Yerevan. Photo©Onnik Krikorian/Oneworld Multimedia 2008" (photo is available on the front page of their web site)

Strasbourg, 11.07.2008 – The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, will start on Sunday a three-day visit to Erevan to weigh the progress made in the investigation of the violent events in connection with the demonstrations after the Presidential election in March. He will meet with the highest national authorities and will visit prisons accompanied by two members of his Office and Johan Hirschfeldt, an international expert with extensive experience on national commissions of inquiry.

“This visit is part of the ongoing dialogue with the Armenian authorities, and follows the visits carried out last October and March” said the Commissioner. “In my last report on Armenia, I advocated for a comprehensive investigation into the 1 March events. The aim of this visit is therefore to take stock of the progress made towards this end and gather accurate information on the number of detainees and their judicial status” continued Commissioner Hammarberg. “I have also taken note of the recent Resolution adopted by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on the functioning of democratic institutions in Armenia. In this context, I intend to provide an international contribution towards the improvement of the human rights situation in the country.”

During his visit, the Commissioner will meet the highest State authorities, including the President Serzh Sargsyan, leading members of the Government, Parliament representatives, the Prosecutor General and members of the ad hoc Parliamentary inquiry committee. Commissioner Hammarberg will also hold further meetings with detainees and their lawyers, the Human Rights Defender, as well as representatives of international organisations and civil society.

*source (press release)

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Elvina Makaryan: in living memory...

1 year ago today Elvina Makaryan passed away... but not from my heart...

"Two Guitars"

Armenia head of state proposes a ‘fresh start’ to Turkey via football diplomacy

In an article written for The Wall Street Journal, Armenia’s incumbent president Serj Sargsyan proposes a 'fresh start' to Turkey.

This is the most straightforward gesture to date from a head of state in Armenia to propose Turkey to open up a new page in relationships. Overall, I welcome this proposal. It is courageous and right thing to do from Serj Sargsyan side.

Note that he amended his previous statement (and rightly so) on bi-lateral “commission that would study the historic facts”. Instead, he is now speaking of a commission to discuss broader aspects of “all the complex issues” hampering the development of relationships between our neighbouring countries. “Only through them can we create an effective dialogue touching upon even the most contentious historical issues.”

If only Serj propose the similar straightforward measures to fix domestic situation, via honest dialogue with the opposition, and bring Armenia back to democracy, many challenges facing our country both internally and externally will be alleviated.

Below are selected extracts; full article is available here.

“The time has come for a fresh effort to break this deadlock, a situation that helps no one and hurts many. As president of Armenia, I take this opportunity to propose a fresh start – a new phase of dialogue with the government and people of Turkey, with the goal of normalizing relations and opening our common border.”

“There is no real alternative to the establishment of normal relations between our countries. It is my hope that both of our governments can pass through the threshold of this new open door. Establishing normal political relations would enable us to create a commission to comprehensively discuss all of the complex issues affecting Armenia and Turkey. We cannot expect tangible progress without such structured relations. Only through them can we create an effective dialogue touching upon even the most contentious historical issues.”

“And just as the people of China and the United States shared enthusiasm for ping pong before their governments fully normalized relations, the people of Armenia and Turkey are united in their love for football – which prompts me to extend the following invitation.

On Sept. 6 a World Cup qualifier match between the Armenian and Turkish national football teams will take place in Yerevan. I hereby invite President Gül to visit Armenia to enjoy the match together with me in the stadium. Thus we will announce a new symbolic start in our relations. Whatever our differences, there are certain cultural, humanitarian and sports links that our peoples share, even with a closed border. This is why I sincerely believe that the ordinary people of Armenia and Turkey will welcome such a gesture and will cheer the day that our borders open.

There may be possible political obstacles on both sides along the way. However, we must have the courage and the foresight to act now. Armenia and Turkey need not and should not be permanent rivals. A more prosperous, mutually beneficial future for Armenia and Turkey, and the opening up of a historic East-West corridor for Europe, the Caspian region and the rest of the world, are goals that we can and must achieve.”

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

He's losing it

*via RFE/RL

Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian has stood by his view that Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian and his associates resorted to a mass hypnosis Armenia’s population and other “psychological tricks” to muster popular support for their continuing campaign for regime change. [...]

In an interview with the daily “Aravot” published on Tuesday, Hovsepian insisted that many of the opposition demonstrators were hypnotized by Ter-Petrosian’s and other opposition leaders’ use of words such as “fatherland,” “family” and “we’ll win.” “Of course I remain of the opinion which is substantiated by materials of the criminal case,” he said.
Is he under drugs???

Global Voices on Armenian LGBT blogs

Armenia: LGBT Blogs

Many thanks to Onnik Krikorian, Regional Editor for Caucasus at Global Voices Online, for this exceptional round up of Armenian LGBT blogs. I am very happy to witness that LGBT Armenians are becoming more active in using blogging tools as means to make their voice heard and increase their visibility in our society. In fact, this visibility is very slowly but increasing, indeed, and contribution of blogs is of great importance here as they are effectively the only sources which report on these issues. Sadly, as Onnik rightly indicated, traditional media remains silent or prejudiced towards gay community but there are some positive signs there too. Global Voices and its Caucasus editor are doing outstanding job in making voices of those under-represented and silenced groups and minorities heard, ensuring their wider exposure and audience.

Armenia: fighting corruption… without scapegoats?.. for real?..

I like that prime minister Tigran Sargsyan put ‘fighting corruption’ back to the agenda and headlines. Sacking people who are synonymous of corruption in Armenia is a right thing to do. However… merely changing people will not solve the problem. It is important, but not enough at all. If Alvina Zakaryan, head of Armenia’s notorious government agency issuing passports and visas (OVIR), got sacked due to widespread corruption in her agency, voiced by prime minister himself, why there are no legal proceedings into the case? Is it because she knows many secrets? Will we witness just another scapegoat victim here too, as usual?

Do not get me wrong. I support prime minister’s voiced agenda of fighting corruption in Armenia as “the number one problem” facing the country (there are other ‘number ones’ too, but this is one of the primary ones, for sure). However, unless we witness high rank corrupt officials brought to justice, instead of (or along with) random university lecturers or middle to low rank police officers – usual scapegoats, this will be a virtual fight with corruption, not the real one.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

It's Year of Spain in Europe - Viva Espana!

Spain - Rafael Nadal - Wimbledon 2008 champion (source of photo)

Spain - Antonio Pedro Almijes - Mr Gay Europe 2008 (source of photo)

Spain - Euro 2008 - Champions of Europe (source of photo)

Sirusho's Qele, Qele at the London Gay Pride parade

Amnesty International supporters staged 'Eurovision Pride Contest' at the London Gay Pride parade on 5 July 2008, awarding symbolic 'nul points' to countries with poor gay rights record.

"Love Is A Human Right" - that was the main message.

For details, see Unzipped: Gay Armenia

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Armenian authorities: defeat after defeat on the foreign policy front

With illusive 'victories' (= self-deception) on domestic front, Armenian authorities suffer defeat after defeat on the foreign policy front.

Are we witnessing a complete failure of Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs? Do we still have one? Or is this a failure of authorities who lack trust and support of their people?

Russia, Armenia's strategic ally

Only few days after Armenia's incumbent president Serj Sargsyan visit to Moscow and meeting with his Russian counterpart Medvedev...

Guardian (3 July 2008): Medvedev used his meeting with Aliyev to make an unusually explicit statement of support for Azerbaijan in its dispute with its neighbour, Armenia, over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. [...] "The two sides underlined the importance of a speedy resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of respect for ... sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inviolability of a state's borders," said a joint statement after the talks. Commenting after the talks on that statement, Aliyev said: "We are grateful to Russia for this position."


PanARMENIAN.Net (3 July 2008): During its latest session in Astana, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) adopted Turkey’s motion which says that past events like genocide should be recognized only after historians carried out a detailed research in all kinds of archives, independent French journalist Jean Eckian told PanARMENIAN.Net. “Adoption of the Turkish thesis by the OSCE is a significant achievement against the Armenian allegations. Also, the Turkish thesis regarding the events of 1915 was adopted for the first time on an international platform. Armenia was the only among 56 OSCE member states to vote against the motion," said Alaattin Buyukkaya, head of the Turkish delegation to the OSCE PA."The motion says that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly encourages formation of joint commission of historians and experts from the third countries in case of a research into political and military archives to scientifically and impartially enlighten a disputed period in history in an effort to serve transparency and common understanding among the member states," Buyukkaya added.

No surprises, especially after Armenia's incumbent president Serj Sargsyan's infamous remarks in Moscow (23 June 2008, via "The second issue I would like to speak about refers to Armenian-Turkish relations. Our position on the matter is distinct: there should be no closed borders between neighbor countries in the 21st century. Regional cooperation can be the best means for establishing stability. The Turkish side suggests forming a commission that would study the historic facts. We do not mind establishing that commission, but only when the border between our countries is opened. Otherwise, it can become a means of protracting the solution of the issue for many years. In the future I intend to undertake new steps to further the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. Most probably, I will invite Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul to Yerevan to watch the match between the national football teams of Armenia and Turkey."


While Armenian authorities were celebrating a 'victory' having avoided PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) sanctions till at least January 2009...

RFE/RL (25 June 2008): The resolution adopted on Tuesday [Unzipped - 24 June 2008] expressed serious concern at the “deteriorating” human rights situation in Azerbaijan and spelled out a “road-map” of urgent measures which the PACE believes should be taken ahead of the forthcoming Azerbaijani presidential election. The resolution linked the problem with the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying that “sustainable democratic development will be extremely difficult in Azerbaijan as long as the country’s territorial integrity has not been restored.” The PACE also said it “takes note” of a recent UN General Assembly resolution that upheld Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh and demanded an unconditional and immediate liberation of Armenian-occupied Azerbaijani territories. Armenian members of the PACE strongly opposed these provisions and tried unsuccessfully to remove them from the text.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

To Armenian citizens... from Nikol Pashinyan, in hiding since 1 March 2008

"To Armenian citizens:
Armenia's future depends on one person, and that person is YOU!..
Nikol Pashinyan"

Received via, from Nikol Pashinyan (handwritten), Editor-in Chief of opposition Haykakan Zhamanak daily, member of the (Armenia's former president and leader of opposition movement) Levon Ter-Petrosyan Central Campaign Headquarters, in hiding since 1 March 2008...

Meetings on Armenian Genocide in London

Organised by Armenian Solidarity with the Victims of All Genocides; Centre of Halabja against the Anfalization of Kurdish People (C.H.A.K.); Nor Serount Cultural Association; Seyfo Centre

"Evidence from Kurdish sources on the 1915 Genocide"

On Tuesday, 8th July at 2.00 p.m.

in Room P of Portcullis House (which houses the offices of Members of Parliament); Portcullis House is on Victoria Embankment/Bridge Street corner next to Westminster tube station(facing parliament)
The speakers: eminent Kurdish historian Prof Kamal Mazhar Ahmad; Kurdish writer Rebwar Fatah .
The meeting is sponsored and chaired by David Drew MP

The Lausanne Treaty of 1923.
Were the Armenians , Assyrians and Kurds betrayed?

On Wednesday, 9th July at 6.15 p.m.

in Room 3A of the House of Lords
Speakers: Dr Kemal Miredali ( Kurdish writer); Ms Soma Mallzada (Researcher for C.H.A.K.) The meeting is sponsored and chaired by Lord Rea.
There will be the opportunity for questions and a discussion to consider the Treaty's validity in relation to these three nations which were not involved in its signing.

If you are planning to attend, RSVP if possible to asap