A Yerevan sculpture in Armenia / flickr.com/marcofieber

A Yerevan sculpture in Armenia / flickr.com/marcofieber

News and Views (June 25, 2012)

by | June 25th, 2012 | 1 comments
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News & Views is a weekly summary of some of the week’s most important stories, links and material of interest to Ararat readers.

— The big story of the week was the increased tension and escalating violence over Karabakh. Bloomberg has reported that ten soldiers on both sides have been killed this month. Worryingly, Bloomberg also highlights the possibility of a resumption of war:

“There is a weak control of the cease-fire line by Azerbaijan and Armenia and almost no international monitoring,” Sabine Freizer, director of the Europe Program of the International Crisis Group, or ICG, said by phone from Istanbul today. “Large-scale hostilities can break out accidentally, as a result of tit-for-tat responses by the sides.”

Other major media organizations have reported on the clashes this week. The New York Times wrote that both Armenia and Azerbaijan have continued to blame each other for the hostilities. This comes amidst a statement by G-20 leaders calling for a resolution to the conflict according to the article:

“Clashes along the Azerbaijan-Armenia border have intensified in recent weeks, with soldiers killed on both sides. The fighting, in violation of cease-fire agreements, has stirred fears of wider bloodshed and drawn international condemnation.”

— Possibly as a response to the increased tension in the region, Russia has announced that they will be doubling the number of troops in Armenia. According to Eurasianet.org, temporary forces will arrive in addition to the five thousand permanent troops already stationed at the 102nd military base in Gyumri. And it appears that they’ll have plenty to do according to the article:

“They’ll arrive at a base that’s been a bit on the bustling side of late. Russian jets have been busy drilling in Armenian airspace, and, in March, Moscow held war games in Gyumri”.

— After months of tension over a draft law which would have criminalized the denial of the Armenian genocide in France, Turkey and France will restore all ties according to Reuters. The bill, introduced by former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was struck down by France’s constitutional court. However this would appear to place the new French president, Francois Hollande, in an awkward position as according to Asbarez he promised during his election campaign to draft a new bill if elected.

— The New York Times has reported that Edward N. Costikyan, a major figure in the New York political establishment, has passed away. He is credited with fundamentally changing the political culture of New York through his leadership of Tammany Hall, an influential political organization as well as being an adviser to various New York governors and mayors. Professor of urban policy at New York University, Mitchell L. Moss, described him as an influential figure in the article:

“He was the go-to guy for politicians of both parties,” Professor Moss said. “Throughout his career, he was a forceful advocate for modernizing government and the decentralization of urban services, though he wasn’t always successful.”

— In one of the more bizarre stories of the week 2008 US election sensation, Joe the Plumber, has caused controversy after linking American gun control policy to the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust according to a campaign video. The full video is available here:

“In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were exterminated.”

— A must read this week is a travel series on Armenia Now by Sigrid Lupieri, a Chicago based Italian-American journalist who is spending two months in Armenia.

— The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem has become the latest battleground in the West Bank with an effort by the Palestinian authority to obtain world heritage status for it. The move has angered, amongst others, the religious custodians of the site which include the Armenian church according to the Washington Post. Many Christians believe that the site marks the birthplace of Jesus.

— The latest Pixar blockbuster film, Brave, which was just released has a very strong Armenian connection. The film, about a princess in 10th century Scotland, was produced by San Leandro California native Katherine Sarafian. According to the San Leandro Patch, Katherine’s Armenian heritage has been a central influence. Her late father, Mesrob Sarafian, was a pastor at the Saint Vartan Armenian church of Oakland.

— And because everybody loves a story out of Glendale, the Los Angeles Times has reported that a brawl involving more than a hundred people erupted at a wedding. Whilst not explicitely stated, the names of those arrested seem to suggest an Armenian connection. The LA Weekly had the best interpretation:

“All in the name of marital bliss for the happy couple, no doubt”

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News & Views is published every week. It is a summary of the week’s most interesting, provocatiove and thought-provoking links to articles, videos, photos and commentary of interest to the readers of Ararat.