News and Views (July 23, 2012)
News & Views is a weekly summary of some of the week’s most important stories, links and material of interest to Ararat readers.
— On July 19, Karabakh’s presidential election took place. The election was condemned by Azerbaijan and much of the international community as illegitimate and counter-productive to the peace process. In the run-up to the election, the BBC highlighted the danger still facing the region:
“Both sides are engaged in an arms race, investing in more sophisticated weaponry, the BBC’s Damien McGuinness reports from the region. Any return to a full-blown conflict would therefore have even more devastating consequences this time round, particularly if regional allies such as Russia or Turkey were dragged into the dispute, our correspondent adds.”
— According to Armenia Now, the incumbent Karabakh President, Bako Sahakyan, retained his post taking 66.6% of the vote. He ran against two opponents, General Vitali Balasanyan and Arkadi Soghomyan. Although the election was not recognized internationally, delegates from all around the world observed the election according to Armenia Now:
“A total of around 80 international observers were watching the voting, from the USA, Russia, Canada, France, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Ireland, Poland, Cyprus, Hungary, Bulgaria, Argentine, Uruguay and others, as well a delegation of officials from Armenia. A few dozen foreign reporters was covering the elections”.
— Outspoken Turkish historian Taner Akçam has written an opinion piece in The New York Times highlighting Turkey’s hypocrisy in criticizing Syria, especially considering its own history and human rights record:
“Turkey’s attempt to cultivate an image as the global protector of Muslim rights is compromised by a legacy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Christians and terror against Arabs and Kurds. Memories of these crimes are very much alive throughout former Ottoman territories. And Turkey cannot serve as a democratic model until it acknowledges that brutal violence, population transfers and genocide underlie the modern Turkish state.”
— With the London Olympic Games only a few days away, Armenia’s National Olympic Committee has announced significant cash incentives for Armenian athletes that win a medal at the games according to Ninemsn:
“Armenia’s NOC will pay any Olympic gold medal winner $100,000 (82,000 euros, £64,000) while silver medalists will pocket $75,000. Bronze medalists will receive $50,000. Rostomyan said the country’s government will also give the Games medalists an additional cash bonus of $50,000, $37,000 and $25,000 for gold, silver and bronze respectively”.
— In May of this year, video footage of gas balloons exploding at an Armenian political rally was widely covered by the international press. 154 people were hospitalized due to the explosion. However, according to Armenia Now, a man has been charged in relation to the incident:
“A short statement issued by Armenian police said that Serob Bozoyan, a 54-year-old resident of Yerevan, is facing heavy fines and up to five years in prison under a Criminal Code article dealing with the production and sale of goods not meeting safety standards…A senior police official, Arsen Ayvazian, said on Friday that the investigators have established that that the balloons were filled with inflammable natural gas by several individuals at a single Yerevan apartment. Bozoyan is presumably one of them”.
— Katie Aun, a Minnesota native who is traveling around the former Soviet Union and documenting her travels on her site, Katie Going Global, has written extensively about her travels in Armenia. In a recent article, Katie has compared travel experiences between the three countries in the Caucasus. While every country had its own issues and with Georgia being the overall winner, Katie had some very interesting things to say about Armenia:
“Armenia arguably lags behind on the tourism front, with the Visitor Information Center in the capital of Yerevan closing due to lack of funding a few years ago. I know firsthand from my experience volunteering with the de facto national tourism board that they are trying to make improvements, such as developing a new tourism website and a new information center, but it may take a while. To Armenia’s advantage, most of the major sites are easy day trips from Yerevan and local tour company Hyurservice runs multiple tours every day costing as little as $15. I took two of their day trips and thought they provided great value”.
— We have another piece from Sigrid Lupieri, a Chicago based Italian-American journalist who is spending two months in Armenia and working for Armenia Now. In this post, Sigrid writes about a day trip she took to the Tatev region in Armenia:
“The monastery, surrounded by imposing walls of gray stone, was perched precariously over a breathtaking gorge dropping hundreds of feet below us. A dusty winding road snaked its way across the craggy mountain peaks, overgrown with low shrubs and coarse dark grass. Within the shadowy main church, the cool and musty air smelled faintly of candle wax. The thick, irregular stone walls were cold and damp as if, over the centuries, they had slowly absorbed the foggy breath of thousands of whispered prayers.”
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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.