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Monday, 9 February 2009

Charles Aznavour: “I am a free man and cannot lose my freedom for an honorary post”

UPDATE (12 February 2009): No longer a "free man", 'changed his mind', accepted... (see comments section below)

Says Charles Aznavour: “I am a free man. I was proposed by the president of Armenia a position of the Ambassador to Geneva, and I was absolutely flattered. That day I went to bed happy, but when I woke up I realised that if accepted I would lose my freedom. If I did not like any decision of the Armenian government, I would feel bad. I cannot lose my freedom for an honorary post.”

Interview with El Pais (via RFE/RL)

17 comments:

tzitzernak2 said...

This is fascinating. He used to be so friendly with the SS government(at least it seemed that way) - Is this where he draws the line? or is he having second thoughts, and has realized what this government truly is?
Thanks for posting!

Ani said...

I'm happy to hear it; it was pretty clever of him, though, to wait to announce this decision after the Armenian government agreed to fund his museum...

http://hetq.am/en/culture/the-museum-of-charles-aznavour

Anonymous said...

Well, apparantly he has changed his mind and accepted...
The article is in Russian...

http://www.dni.ru/society/2009/2/12/159360.html

BSW

Ani said...

Reuters confirms this:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/entertainmentNews/idUKTRE51B61B20090212

YEREVAN (Reuters) - French singer Charles Aznavour said Thursday he had agreed to become ambassador to Switzerland for his ancestral homeland Armenia.
[...]

Maybe better to say that apparently his mind was changed rather than that he changed his mind, but whatever.

artmika said...

How weird! Thanks for the links, guys.

So what will our "free man" do if he "did not like any decision of the Armenian government"??? (His words, not mine) I am sure they will now say that El Pais misquoted him, which is bollix, of course. To be honest, if it was not his interview with El Pais, I would not pay much attention to the news, it would not have been surprising for me.

I could only speculate that the 'museum factor' played its role too :)

Ani said...

At least it's just Switzerland, and if something goes wrong, at 84 he can plead age and health really convincingly. I think he's on a learning curve...

Onnik Krikorian said...

Weird.

Then again, as he was with Kocharian the night Poghos Poghosian was killed by presidential bodyguards and never uttered a word in shock or horror, I never had any respect for him anyway.

Hate his music too...

artmika said...

Commentary by Lragir.am:

"[...] It is difficult to tell the reason of change of intentions of the great singer. Maybe Charles Aznavour was told that his tenure as ambassador to Switzerland is vital for Armenia, therefore he decided to sacrifice his freedom for the sake of Armenia.

It is also possible that the Armenian government has reminded the renowned singer that recently it allocated one million dollars for the construction of the house and museum of the singer in Yerevan and hinted that he must compensate to the government. In any case, such quick and unexpected change of mind allows for interesting thoughts. However, it is most interesting why the Armenian government is interested in Aznavour’s nomination as ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland. After all, it is good if the ambassador of Armenia is a famous person. However, the problem is that Armenia has no close political relations with Switzerland to be an important partner in geopolitical developments. The importance of Switzerland for Armenia can be economic, more exactly financial, since Switzerland is famous for its banks which are most secure and safe to keep money, if the Swiss government does not make up its mind to cause serious problems for that money, of course."

(in Armenian)

"[...] Թե ինչն է մեծանուն երգչի մտադրությունների այդօրինակ փոփոխության պատճառը, ասելը դժվար է: Գուցե Շառլ Ազնավուրին համոզել են, որ Շվեյցարիայում նրա դեսպան լինելը կենսական նշանակություն ունի Հայաստանի համար, եւ այդ իսկ պատճառով նա որոշել է զոհել իր ազատությունը հանուն Հայաստանի:

Հավանական է նաեւ, որ Հայաստանի իշխանությունը մեծանուն երգչին հիշեցրել է, որ բոլորովին վերջերս մեկ միլիոն դոլար է հատկացրել Երեւանում երգչի տուն թանգարանի շինարարությունն ավարտին հասցնելու համար, ու ակնարկել, որ դրա դիմաց պետք է ինչ որ ձեւով փոխհատուցել իշխանությանը: Բոլոր դեպքերում, այդօրինակ արագ եւ կտրուկ մտքափոխանակությունը տալիս է բավական ուշագրավ մտորումների տեղիք: Սակայն ամենից ուշագրավը թերեւս այն է, թե ինչու է Հայաստանի իշխանությունն այդպես շահագրգռված, որ Ազնավուրը լինի Շվեյցարիայում Հայաստանի դեսպան: Ի վերջո, իհարկե լավ է, որ Հայաստանի դեսպանը լինի աշխարհահռչակ մի մարդ: Սակայն խնդիրն այն է, որ Շվեյցարիան թերեւս այն պետությունը չէ, որի հետ Հայաստանն ունի քաղաքական սերտ առնչություններ, որը կարող է Հայաստանի համար լինել աշխարհաքաղաքական զարգացումների կարեւոր գործընկեր: Շվեյցարիայի նշանակությունը Հայաստանի համար թերեւս կարող է լինել զուտ տնտեսական, ավելի կոնկրետ ֆինանսական, այն առումով, որ կա շվեյցարական հայտնի բանկային համակարգը, ուր պահվող փողը ամենից ապահովներից ու անվտանգներից մեկն է, եթե իհարկե շվեյցարական իշխանությունը չորոշի այդ փողերի համար հարուցել լուրջ խնդիրներ:"

artmika said...

...and here is a reflection by BBC:

Aznavour to become Armenian envoy

The veteran French singer, Charles Aznavour, says he has agreed to become ambassador to Switzerland for his ancestral homeland of Armenia. [...]

He was born Shahnur Aznavourian in Paris in 1924 to Armenian immigrants.

Even during the Soviet era, Mr Aznavour maintained close ties with Armenia. He was granted citizenship in December.

After an earthquake in 1988 killed 25,000 people, he set up the Aznavour for Armenia committee to help survivors.

The following year, he wrote and recorded a charity single, Pour Toi Armenie, which sold more than a million copies. [...]

Mr Aznavour, dubbed the "French Frank Sinatra", performed his last major concert in 2001 after more than six decades of entertaining.

He is best known for romantic love ballads such as Yesterday When I Was Young, and had a number one hit in the UK in 1974 with She.

Ani said...

Suggested reading for Charles Aznavour: "Now I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou. Books to avoid: anything by Voltaire, even though he'll be in the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

The salivating dogs should give it a rest. Instead of just being happy that such a charismatic and connected man is an ambassador, everyone wants to read a million things into his comments and decision to reject then accept.

Where was the shock and horror regarding the leeches who took a salary month after month from the state as foreign ministry workers only to later claim that they had been working for (and part of) a criminal state for all these years, resigning is phony defiance?

Please. How embarrassing for a state servant.

Ani said...

Apparently, the Swiss Armenian community is not at all amused by this, and unless they are St. Bernards I don't think they count as "salivating dogs":

http://www.armenian.ch/index.php?id=1
Charles Aznavour accepted, then rejected, and then accepted the proposal of the President of Armenia to become Ambassador of Armenia in Switzerland. "I am a free person" said the singer to the Spanish daily El Pais, "I felt very proud and happy [of this nomination] that day. But the next day, I thought more carefully and I came to the conclusion that I would lose my freedom by accepting this offer".

Diplomacy is not show business and Armenia as well as Mr. Aznavour had everything to lose in this cat and mouse game. Most acerbic comments might flourish if Mr. Aznavour continued his hesitation waltz rather than defend Armenia with his own weapons: songs and movies.

The Armenian community of Switzerland is now waiting eagerly to know who will be appointed ambassador. Armenia needs a professional diplomat that can commit full time to give Armenia its right place toward the Swiss authorities and the UN.
[...]

Anonymous said...

who exactly is the Swiss Armenian community? This is like speaking on behalf of "the people" during demonstrations in Yerevan when less than 1% of "the people" show up.

Anonymous said...

and what about those state "employees" who take their salaries (from tax and fee paying citizens)month after month only to beat and shoot protesting and demonstrating citizens,
no need to even add the "judges" and "government officials" what a shame!

Anonymous said...

in every country, only 1% demonstrate and leave their work and homes to go to streets but many others support them from their homes and work place
it's so natural and so realistic, in case you don't know, this is called representation

Onnik Krikorian said...

Anonymous, this is a bit like saying in every country only 1 percent come out to show support for the government and many more supporters remain at home.

Instead, we just don't know. However, while I would say there should have been a second round in the election, Ter-Petrossian did not have the critical mass of people on the streets he needed.

One foreign journalist said in the former Soviet space this usually means 100,000, but in Yerevan we had less than that. Perhaps, 50,000 with the highest attendances, but usually around 25-30,000.

That's no match for an armed police and military and actually, on 1 March, there were an estimated 10,000 near the French Embassy and that number didn't increase as the day went on.

Indeed, when the shit really hit the fan it was substantially less. Regardless, I don't think either Serge or Levon have the right to speak "for the people" and this is the problem we find ourselves in today.

It's also why I still think early and properly conducted parliamentary elections are a solution. As it is, the National Assembly is NOT representative of the electorate, but if properly elected would be -- and regardless of who the "King" was.

Anyway, this is kind of going off the point. I don't particularly care if Aznavour is Ambassador or not. I just know I hate his music and have no respect for the way he sucked up to Kocharian even after the Poplavok killing.

Still, Armenia got into the news.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Well, regardless of what I said above, perhaps Aznavour's appointment is linked to this?

Calmy-Rey meets Obama during Turkey-Armenia talks

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has confirmed her role as a mediator between Armenia and Turkey.

Calmy-Rey met with officials from the two countries along with United States President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a United Nations conference in Turkey.

It is the first time Switzerland has confirmed it is working to bring the two sides together.

Obama has called on Armenia and Turkey to normalise relations.


If there is a breakthrough, who better than Aznavour to talk to the Diaspora?

Anyway, let's see...