2009: The Year in Review

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JANUARY

•Armenia’s foreign minister, Eduard Nalbandian, expressed his frustration with Azerbaijan’s military build-up continuing, despite imposed limitations by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty limits the number of tanks and armored vehicles a country can acquire, but Azerbaijan is going over the limit, with impunity, Nalbandian complained.

•Amnesty International released a report on domestic violence around the world. According to the report, one in four women in Armenia is a victim of domestic violence. The Gumri-based organization, Ajakits, helps to end the condition, though under difficult conditions. Ajakits was founded by Gayane Seppelin, with her mother, Heghine Mkrtchyan in 1997 after Seppelin’s sister came to her mother seeking refuge from an abusive partner.

•The members of UTN1 (Unknown to No One), an Iraqi boy band, performed in Geneva, Switzerland to the delight of many young girls. Of the group’s five members, two are Armenian. The two founded the group in 1999 and they hope to export their voice outside their native land.

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•President Abdullah Gul of Turkey spoke out against an apology campaign for the Armenian Genocide by Turkish intellectuals. The Internet campaign, which was launched  by a group of 200 intellectuals in December 2008, received about 30,000 signatures.

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•Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian dumped his Ford stocks after initially pledging to support the beleaguered automaker. Kerkorian, whose stock-holding group is Tracinda Corp., sold 7.3 million common stock in October, before selling off the remaining 133.5 million stocks in January.

•A new, 128-page limited-edition photo album titled “Saroyan: His Heart in the HIghlands,” was published by the Fresno-based Armenian Technology Group, Inc. as a tribute to William Saroyan’s centennial celebration.

•Charles Aznavour became a citizen of Armenia by a decree from President Serge Sargisian. The honor was given as a token of thanks for his service to help Armenia.

•A new book on the survivors of the Armenian Genocide was published, titled New Britain’s Armenian Community. The book, by Farmington, Conn.-based author Jennie Garabedian, included more than 200 photos of Armenians of New Britain. The story includes her parents’ past, beginning with her father’s departure before the outbreak of the Genocide in 1915.

•The delivery of Russian natural gas to Armenia, which had been halted three days before because of hostilities between Russia and Georgia, resumed on January 12. Georgia had suspended the transit of Russian gas through its territory, citing emergency repairs on a section of a pipeline leading to Armenia.

•Hayastan All Armenian Fund completed the renovation of two major projects in the Hadrut region in Armenia, the renovation of the regional hospital and the construction of the Togh-Hadrut gas pipeline.  Built in 1982, the Hadrut hospital was crumbling and did not meet the requirements of modern healthcare industry.

•A Turkish prosecutor launched an investigation into an Internet petition that apologizes to Armenians or the Armenian Genocide, Anatolia news agency reported. The probe was launched after several Ankara residents filed a complaint asking for the organizers and signatories to be punished for “openly denigrating the Turkish nation.”

•Dozens of people were arrested in Turkey and charged with ties to an alleged secularist plot to bring down the Islamic-rooted government. At the heart of the trial is a clash between the growing clout of Turkey’s Islamic class and its traditional and secular military elite. An indictment says the suspects were involved in a series of high-profiled attacks and planned to kill Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

•Outgoing President George Bush thanked Armenia for its participation in the US-led occupational forces in Iraq. “The willingness of the Armenian people to support the establishment and strengthening of a democratic government in Iraq, despite great hardships, testifies to their strong spirit. Armenians can be proud of their participation in the successful operation to help Iraq secure its freedom,” Bush said in a letter to his Armenian counterpart, Serge Sargisian.

•Armenian Christmas services were held at St. Vartan Cathedral on January 6.

•The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched a project to find the thousands of missing people as the aftermath of the war in Nagorno Karabagh. According to the ICRC data, the total number of people missing in the zone of the Karabagh conflict, both Azeri and Armenian, is between 4,000 and 5,000.

•Dr. Carolann Najarian, a local community activist, and her husband, George, attended the swearing-in ceremony of Rep. Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House of Representatives on January 6.

•The exodus of all Christians, especially Armenians, from Bethlehem continued unabated. According to Victor Batarseh, the Christian mayor of Bethlehem, the proportion of Christians in the city slumped from 92 percent in 1948 to 40 at the present. He blamed both the appropriation of some lands by Palestinians as well as the economic hardship as a result of Israel’s barrier, which has created hardships for both Christians and Muslims.

•Early this year saw the intensifying dispute between the Armenian and Georgian churches over the status of the Armenian Church in Georgia. At the heart of the conflict was Norashen Church, which has been locked for seven decades. Local Armenians complain about the seizure of Armenian churches by the Georgian Orthodox Church. Armenian expert say the Norashen Church was built in the 15th century by the local Armenian community and continued to operate until it was shut down during the Soviet anti-religion drive in the 1930s. The Georgian Church now denies that Norashen was ever Armenian and instead argues that its origins are open to debate. Now, local Armenians say that the Georgian authorities are removing Armenian tombstones from its graveyard.

•What may be the oldest brain ever discovered was found in a cave overlooking southeastern Armenia’s Arpa River, just across the border from Iran. The cave also offered surprising new insights into the origins of modern civilizations, including winemaking and pottery.

•The nation, including Armenian-Americans celebrated the swearing in of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama. The day of the inauguration, Washington was so choked with about 2 million supporters that movement was practically impossible. Among the performers in the celebrations of inauguration week were the Arax Dance Ensemble.

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•Marc Mamigonian was named the director of academic affairs for the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), based in Massachusetts. Mamigonian has been at NAASR for 10 years, where he was initially hired as an assistant to then Board Chairman Manoog S. Young. Subsequently he was named director of publications and then director of programs and publications.

•On January 9, the Ararat Center in Greenville, NY, the Diocese-owned facility, burned its mortgage. On that day, the Board of Directors presented their final payment to Len and Jyl DeGiovine.

•Raffi Yessayan, a former Suffolk County assistant district attorney turned defense lawyer, had his first novel, called Eight in a Box, published by Ballantine. Set in Boston, the book is about a serial killer and the team of detectives and lawyers on his trail.

•The second anniversary of the assassination of Hrant Dink was marked on January 19. A series of ceremonies were held across Turkey to mark the sad anniversary. A total of 20 suspects were arrested in the case.

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•President Serge Sargisian pardoned nine individuals arrested and sentenced to up to four years’ imprisonment in connection with the 2008 post-election strife in Yerevan in January. He had pardoned three in December.

•Archbishop Nourhan Manougian was named patriarchal vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

•Cracks began to appear in relations between Turkey and Israel as a result of the latter’s bombardment of Gaza. Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the actions “savagery” and “a crime against humanity.”

•Carl Bazarian was one of the lucky passengers on US Airways Flight 1549 on its way from New York to Charlotte, NC, which suffered total engine failure yet was landed as gently as a glider by its pilot, Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III on the Hudson River. The engines stopped working after a flock of geese had flown into them, causing them to burst into flames. Bazarian, a member of the board of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America’s Fund for Armenian Relief, said, “A near-tragic occurrence turned into a very positive humanitarian experience.”

•On January 12, an auction of Armenian coins was held at Stack’s Rare Coins Moneta Imperi Romani Byzantini portion of the Golden Horn Collection in New York. The Armenian coins fetched record prices, including $8,000 for a silver dram of Gosdantin I of Cilician Armenian

•An exhibit dedicated to legendary photographer Yousuf Karsh opened at the Art Institute of Chicago on January 22. The exhibit, titled “Yousuf Karsh: Regarding Heroes,” ended on April 26.

•A story with heart was that of Emily Van Noy, 7, who received a heart transplant on Monday, January 19. Performing the operation in Dallas was Dr. Kristine Guleserian. The young girl suffered from restrictive cardiomyopathy, a rare and often fatal condition. The young patient recovered very well.

•Two Armenian community leaders were arrested in Javakhk and charged with involvement in organizing “armed groups” and spying. Grigor Minasyan and Sergei Hagopjanyan were arrested when Georgian Special Interior Ministry forces, backed by Tbilisi police, ambushed the two.

•On January 6, Mayor Scott Avedisian was sworn in for his sixth term as the mayor of Warwick, RI.

•On Monday January 26, the annual Vahan Tekeyan Annual Award presentation was held at the Tekeyan Center in Armenia, under the auspices of Prime Minister Tigran Sargisian. Attending the award ceremony were Sargisian, Minister of Culture Hasmik Pogossian, Deputy Minister David Mouradian, US Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch and the Lebanese ambassador to Armenia. In addition, Prime Minister Sargisian held talks with the TCA delegation,  which included Edmond Azadian, vice president of the TCA Central Board of US and Canada; Papken Megerian, board member; Vartan Ouzounian, president of Tekeyan Trust, London, and Taline Avakian, president of the TCA Haigashen Ouzounian Literary Award Committee, based in Geneva.

•Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Armenian President Serge Sargisian held their first bilateral talks on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in late January. Sargisian called his talks with Erdogan “very useful.” He said, “I’ve seen a willingness of the prime minister to solve our issues. I think this is a positive signal.”

• Also participating in the Inauguration ceremonies were Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, and Assembly Board Member Annie Totah, with the new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

•AGBU Sydney celebrated the 40th anniversary of its Saturday School on January 28.

FEBRUARY

•Rakel Dink was one of the panelists at a program held at MIT, which reflected on Hrant Dink’s legacy. Also participating in the program were Armenian Weekly editor Khatchig Mouradian, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, Andrew Tarsy of Facing History and Ourselves and Oktay Ozel, a visiting scholar at Harvard.

•The rift between Israel and Turkey grew as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan clashed with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Erdogan said the Israeli attack on Gaza had killed innocent children and was unwarranted. The US Embassy in Istanbul called the incident “unfortunate.”

•Archbishop Khajag Barsamian participated in a meeting in Rome, Italy, of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and Oriental Orthodox churches. Pictured is Barsamian, left, with Pope Benedict XVI.

•Armenia and Turkey continued working on establishing diplomatic ties. The two nations’ foreign ministers, Eduard Nalbandian and Ali Babaçan met in Munich on the sidelines of an international security conference for the second time in just over a week.

•Russia approved a $500 million loan to Armenia to help it cope with the effects of the global economic crisis.

•The AGBU Grung Choir of Montevideo, Uruguay celebrated its 15th anniversary.

•The Mirak Family Foundation pledged a gift of $200,000 to St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School in Watertown, Mass. Julia Mirak Kew and her father, Robert Mirak, are familiar with the school, as Christina Kew, their daughter and granddaughter, respectively, attends the school.

•Archbishop Vicken Aykazian visited the Boston area for a series of meetings within the Armenian community and the greater community. Aykazian, president of the National Council of Churches, met with Harvard faculty, along with James Kalustian and spoke to the faculty about the Armenian Genocide and other issues of interest to the community. He also presided over a children’s’ communion service and breakfast at Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Greater Boston and met with the members of the Massachusetts Council of Churches’ Board of Directors.

•The Lincy Foundation donated $250,000 to the Armenian American Cultural Association to be used toward the completion of the renovation, expansion and seismic reinforcement of its project in Armenia, the Armenian American Wellness Center.

•For the ninth consecutive year, the chairperson of the TCA Board of Administrators Maro Bedrosian led the project of distributing funds to the teachers of the five schools the TCA supports in Armenia. “We started this program because of our belief that teachers prepare tomorrow’s leaders,” said Bedrosian. Others who have distributed funds there included Taline Ouzounian Avakian, member of the Tekeyan Trust of London, Edmond Azadian and Papken Megerian of the TCA Board of Directors, as well as Barkev Nazaretian, a member of the TCA Board of Administrators.

•The Iranian-Armenian poet Armand, one of the last representatives of the 20th-century, diasporan-Armenian literary figures, died on January 28. Armand, ne Aram Andonian, was born in Tehran, Iran, on August 15, 1922.

•The legendary singer Charles Aznavour was named Armenia’s ambassador to Switzerland. Aznavour, 84, was granted Armenian citizenship in December 2008.

•Photographer Scout Tufankjian is the only photographer to have followed Barack Obama throughout the two years of his election campaign. She published a book early in 2009, titled Yes, We Can.

•Co-Chair of the ADL Eastern District Committee of US and Canada Edmond Azadian met with Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II.

•Armenian and other rights group protested the Turkish school screenings of a documentary called “Blonde Bride: The True Face of the Armenian Question.” The Education Ministry had asked schools to show the film, which suggested that Armenians were not the victims of genocide, but instead, the Armenians attacked Turks. The film was produced by the General Staff of the Turkish Army.

•Lebanese State Minister Jean Ogasapian visited the TCA Arshag Dickranian School during his time in Los Angeles, on February 24. Ogasapian and his entourage were greeted by Board Chairman George K. Mandossian, Principal Vartkes Kourouyan, ADL Western District Committee Chair Hagop Nazarian and members of the faculty and student council.

•According to a report issued by the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), there are 15 endangered languages in Turkey and that country is doing nothing to turn the tide. Among those languages categorized as definitely endangered are Western Armenian, Homshetssma, Las and Pontus Greek. Among those critically endangered are Hertevin and those severely endangered include Gagavuz,, Assyrian and Ladino.

•Armen Haghnazarian, an Iranian-Armenian who had been a longtime resident of Germany, and had raised the alarm for years over the state of ancient Armenian sites in modern-day Turkey, died at age 67, in his hometown of Aachen, Germany. He and his wife, both architects, also worked on the renovation and reconstruction of many churches in Armenia and Karabagh.

Committee members and carnival participants at the Tekeyan ADL of Great Detroit Masquerade Ball, to coincide with the Armenian feast of Barekentan.

MARCH

•Protests were held in Armenia to mark the first anniversary of its worst political violence since independence. The protesters demanded early elections and the release of “political prisoners.”

•Dr. Arshavir Gundjian was feted at the AGBU Alex Manoogian Centre in Montreal on March 14. The program, jointly sponsored by the Armen-Quebec AGBU Alex Manoogian School of Montreal, the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada, St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral of Montreal, the AGBU Montreal Chapter, the ADL Party Montreal Chapter and the TCA Montreal Chapter, as well as the Congress of Canadian Armenians.

•The Armenian Assembly of America held its 2009 National Advocacy Conference in Washington. A series of panel discussions were held, on topics ranging from the Armenian Genocide to modern lobbying, as well as a gala reception at the site of the future Armenian Genocide Museum of America, featuring Armenia’s Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobyan.

•Former Speaker of the House in Massachusetts George Keverian died on March 6 at his home in Everett. He was 77. A Democrat who was elected alderman in that city at age 21, he was a state representative for many years before becoming speaker of the house.  He was praised by current and former state officials, as well as ordinary Armenians who praised his humility and work ethic. Keverian was responsible for organizing the first observance of the Armenian Genocide at Beacon Hill in 1986 along with Kitty Dukakis, then-Gov. Dukakis’ wife. He was remembered at a special ceremony at the State House, where he lay in state as throngs of mourners paid their last respects.

•Pianist Tanya Gabrielian, the winner of the 2008 Pro Musicis International Award gave her debut performances in Boston and New York this month. She performed at the Weill Recital Hall in New York and the Longy School of Music in Cambridge Mass.

•On March 28, the Knights of Vartan held their 2009 Annual Awards dinner. Among those honored were activist David Boyajian, Prof. Vartan Abdo, director of the Armenian Radio Hour of New Jersey and Hratch Kaprielian, a veteran activist and benefactor.

•Armenia’s Foreign Minister arrived in Paris on March 12  to help unveil, along with singer Charles Aznvour and Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, the site of the Jardin d’Erevan (Garden of Yerevan), behind the memorial to the Armenian Genocide, in that city.

•The Massachusetts State House displayed “iwitness,” a photography exhibit  of portraits of Armenian Genocide survivors with their oral history. The exhibit was hosted by state Rep. Jonathan Hecht, and sponsored by the Armenian Library and Museum of America and the Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts, and was the work of LA-based photographers Ara Oshagan and Levon Parian.

•A resolution to recognize the mass killings of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as a Genocide was introduced in Congress on March 17 by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

•AGBU New England District hosted a Valentine’s Dinner at the AGBU Center in Watertown and honored Michael Gulbankian for his many years of service.

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Michael Gulbankian, left, receives the plaque from AGBU treasurer Alex Kalaydjian and Chairman Souren Maserejian.

•Rev. Vartan Kassabian, 51, pastor of St. Gregory’s Armenian Church in North Andover, Mass., died of a heart attack.

•The Armenian Church Youth Organization (ACYOA) held its 10th annual leadership conference  in Stony Point, NY. Themed “From Fellowship to Discipleship,” the weekend featured a range of speakers, including Archbishop Khajag Barsamian.

•Nancy Mehagian released her memoir, Siren’s Feast, a combination cookbook and reminiscing about the heady days of the late 1960s. The daughter of Armenian parents, she embarked upon a personal journey of international travel in 1968 that took her as far as Morocco, Ibizia, Spain, India and England.

•Filmmaker Dr. J. Michael Hagopian premiered his most recent documentary on the Armenian Genocide, “The River Ran Red,” in Watertown’s Arsenal Center for the Arts, at a program sponsored by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). A panel discussion featuring Professors Bedross Der Matossian of MIT and Taner Akçam of Clark University, as well as Hagopian, followed the film.

APRIL

•President Obama visited Turkey, where during a press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, he suggested that his views on Armenian history had not changed, though he refrained from using the word “genocide.” When addressing the Turkish Parliament, Obama said, “I know there are strong views in this chamber about the terrible events of 1915. And while there has been a good deal of commentary on my views, it’s really about how the Turkish and Armenian people deal with the past.” Armenians were divided about what the comments signified, with some suggesting that Obama had missed the chance to talk about the Genocide in Turkey, while others said that it was too soon to tell.

•Author, poet and professor, Peter Balakian, released his latest book, Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide, by Grigoris Balakian. The elder Balakian, who had been a priest, was among those arrested on April 24, 1915. Through a series of fortuitous occurrences and his own ingenuity, he managed to escape to Germany and there write his eyewitness account in Armenian. This new book, co-translated by Balakian and Aris Sevag, was the first time his shattering expriences were available to English-Language readers.

•The University of Utah established a new program titled “The Origins of Modern Ethnic Cleansing,” funded by the Turkish Coalition of America. Hakan Yavuz, who heads the Middle East Center within the university’s Political Science Department, served as its director. In an interview he did not use the term “Armenian Genocide” and said that the course will not address the issue.

•Dennis Hastert, the former Speaker of the House, joined a team of lobbyists working for the Turkish government. Hastert, a Republican from Illinois, was working for a $35,000-a-month contract for the Turkish government.

•Armenians around the world marked the Armenian Genocide of 1915. In New York, tens of thousands gathered in Times Square. In Boston, Armenian-Americans gathered on April 17 in the State House, in a program which paid tribute to the late George Keverian, who had started the annual Genocide Day program. Participating in this year’s commemoration was former governor, Michael Dukakis, Gov. Deval Patrick, state Representatives Peter Koutoujian and Jonathan Hecht, state Sen. Steven Tolman.  Many became bitterly disappointed when President Barack Obama refrained from using the word “genocide” on the traditional presidential statement on April 24, and instead used the phrase “medz yeghern,” which means the great calamity.

•Several arrests were made in Turkey as part of a long-running inquiry into the activities of the Ergonkon, an ultra-nationalist shadowy organization, also known as “Deep State,” said to wield tremendous power.

•The Watertown, Mass. Town Council, led by member Marilyn Devaney, submitted a proclamation asking President Obama to use the term “genocide.”

•The governments of Armenia and Turkey announced that the two sides have agreed on a “roadmap” to establish relations. On April 22, the two governments, under the auspices of the Swiss governments said that they have “worked intensively with a view of normalizing the bilateral relations and developing those in the spirit of good-neighborliness and mutual respect.”

•The Armenian faithful gathered to mark Easter Sunday.

•AGBU  Board Member Yervant Zorian was elected a foreign member of Armenia’s National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan.

•On April 21 at a reception in St. John’s Church in Southfield, Mich., the Daughters of Vartan Grand Council honored Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of the British House of Lords, who has been a steadfast defender of Armenians in Nagorno Karabagh.

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•The second annual Armenian Film Festival was held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, presented by the Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance. Among the films being shown were “The Blue Hour” and “Dinner Time,” the winner of a UNICEF prize. The writer and director of “The Blue Hour,” Eric Nazarian, attended the screening of the film and answered questions about the film.

•Armenian activists joined fellow concerned citizens from throughout New England to discuss ways to help keep pressure on the world to take action against the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. A conference at the Andover Newton Theological School-Hebrew College, was attended by activists from more than a dozen organizations.

•Jamanak newspaper, the oldest daily in Istanbul and the brainchild of three generations of an Armenian family, celebrated its centennial this year. To honor this milestone, the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, organized a two-day celebration in New York.

•The Diocese of the Armenian Church of America held its annual assembly in Philadelphia. Those gathered paid tribute to Sen. Robert Menendez (D,NJ), who has been courageous and dedicated in his fight to have the Armenian Genocide properly commemorated.

•Five Armenians received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor on May 9 from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations for being outstanding citizens who live a life dedicated to serving the community, promoting their ethnic values while building bridges between ethnic communities within the  US and abroad. They were: Tavit O. Najarian; Archbishop Vicken Aykazian; James Kalustian, Oscar Tatosian and George Pagoumian.

•Fr. Papken Maksoudian celebrated his centennial at a program at St. James Armenian Church in Watertown. His family, friends and members of the clergy were present to pay tribute to him.

•The Montreal Chapter of the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) marked the closing of the celebrations of its 60th anniversary with a gala honoring 10 renowned Armenian-Canadians. Among those honored were Atom Egoyan, Raffi Armenian and Aline Kutan.

•For the first time in Turkey, the names of Armenian intellectuals rounded up and murdered on April 24, 1915 was published. The list appeared in Agos, the Turkish-Armenian weekly, the editor of which, Hrant Dink, had been assassinated in 2007.

•On Monday, May 18, Charles Aznavour received the TCA’s “Diamond Ararat” award in Yerevan for his extraordinary services to Armenia and Armenians around the world.

Aznavour and Tigran Hekekyan's choir

•President Serge Sargisian’s Republican Party of Armenia swept elections that were denounced as fraudulent by the country’s two main opposition groups. The opposition boycotted the parliament after opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian called the elections “The ugliest election in Armenia’s history.“

•St. Vartan Cathedral in New York celebrated the consecration of its new bronze entry doors, with many dignitaries present, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

•Funeral services were held in Chicago for Kevork Ashikian, 84, a longtime member of the ADL and a former member of the Eastern District Committee of the US and Canada.

•Composer Alan Hovhaness’ centennial was marked by a  series of programs in his hometown of Arlington, Mass. A bust in his honor was unveiled in the town’s Whittemore Park.

JUNE

•Nedim Sener, a reporter for the daily Milliyet newspaper in Turkey, who published a book about journalist Hrant Dink’s assassination, faces up to 28 years in jail after police filed a complaint against him. His book, titled The Dink Murder and Intelligence Lies, deals with the police and national intelligence officers who have been accused of negligence in his murder.

•US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  and her Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, met in Washington for a comprehensive discussion that included the proposed “roadmap” for establishing ties between the two countries. She praised Turkey’s approach to peace and stability in the region and said much progress had been achieved in a short period of time.

•The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in St. Petersburg, Russia. President Serge Sargisian and Ilham Aliyev spoke one-on-one for about two hours before being joined by their foreign ministers and the US, Russian and French mediators co-chairing the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

•Federal Judge Mark Wolf ruled on June 10 that a lawsuit over how the Armenian Genocide is taught in schools in Massachusetts could not go forward. The suit, filed in October 2005 by the Assembly of Turkish-American Associations, alongside two high school teachers and a student against the state’s Department of Education, alleged that a curriculum guide distributed by the department limited free speech by not including resources that presented “contra-genocide” viewpoints.

•The US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) announced that it was reducing by one third its Armenian aid program, as a result of the May elections, which it deemed corrupt. US Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch toured the US shortly after the decision. She toured Boston, Los Angeles, New York and Washington. At a meeting with the press in Boston, she said the purpose of her trip was to talk about the US-Armenia relations, as well as what was going on in Armenia. She said she supported the opening of the border between Armenia and Turkey.

•The Armenagan ADL Party held its founding assembly on June 19 in Yerevan. The reconstituted party becomes the focal point to attract worldwide chapters, under a new constitution embodying its traditional political credo of democracy and liberalism.

•Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobyan visited the Boston-Armenian community. She expressed enthusiasm for her new position and said that she wanted to be the voice of the diaspora in the government and encourage closer ties between the diaspora and Armenia.  She also visited Philadelphia, where a reception was held in her honor at the home of Papken and Anahid Megerian.

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•Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, legate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, was appointed to the Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation Task Force of President Obama’s Advisory Council.

•The Armenian International Women’s Association paid tribute to Olga Proudian for her many years of contribution to many organizations in the Great Boston Armenian community.  AIWA organized a scholarship in her name.

JULY

•Noted writer and editor, Jack Antreassian, died in New York on July 4. He was 89. Antreassian had been the editor of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator and the AGBU and Eastern Diocese publications. A memorial for him took place at St. Vartan Cathedral on July 26.

•Lord Ara Darzi, a top British surgeon and the health minister in Britain, quit his post to focus on his practice.

•A court in Turkey acquitted Sarkis Seropyan, owner of Agos weekly in Istanbul, as well as editor Aris Nalcy, on charges of “attempting to influence” the judiciary.

•A Yerevan-bound plane from Tehran crashed in northern Iran. The plane, part of the fleet of Caspian Airlines, was a Russian-built Tupolev. It crashed 16 minutes after takeoff. All 156 passengers and 12 crewmembers were killed.

•The 10th Armenian Medical World Congress was held in New York July 1-4, with the participation of more than 350 health professionals from five continents. Among those who gave talks were Dr. Raymond Damadian and Lord Ara Darzi, who at that point was the health minister in Britain.

•Jivan Tabibian, a political theorist, diplomat, teacher, food critic and all around bon vivant, died on July 31. He was 72. He was Armenia’s ambassador to the OSCE, as well as Austria.

•The Knights of Vartan held their annual convocation in Boston June 30-July 5, hosted  by Ararat 1 Knights Lodge and Arpie 9 Daughters Otyag chapters of Boston.

AUGUST

•President Serge Sargisian continued in negotiations with Turkey to normalize relations with that country. He suggested that in order for diplomatic relations to be established between the two countries, that the border be opened.

•A former Armenian consul, as well as a consular employee and an immigration lawyer were among those arrested for immigration schemes in Los Angeles. Norair Ghalumian, the consul in LA from 1999 to 2003, and the other four, are accused of obtaining and selling letters to immigrants facing deportation to help block their removal to Armenia, according to officials.

•Eighty-two members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to stop linking the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement with the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

•James Derderian Sr. was honored by the Home Builders Association of Massachusetts as a Legend of the Industry in a celebration in Boston.

•Sibel Edmonds, a Turkish citizen who had been a translator working for the FBI and later became a whistle-blower detailing incompetence and corruption in that organization, testified in a high-profile Ohio House election-fraud case revolving round the Armenian Genocide. Edmonds claims the US maintained a relationship with Osama Bin Laden until September 11, 2001. In the election complaint, Rep. Jean Schmidt took her opponent, David Krikorian, to court, for saying in his election publications that she  took “blood money” from Turkey in exchange for denying the Armenian Genocide. Schmidt, the co-chair of the Congressional Turkish Caucus, won the election by a wide margin. This case marked the first time Edmonds testified, since the federal government in the US has placed a gag order on her in order to prevent her from speaking about her experiences.

•A reception was held on August 4 to bid farewell to Armenia’s Ambassador to the UN Armen Martirossian. Martirossian became Armenia’s envoy to Germany. Caption: From left, Diocesan Vicar Very Rev. Haigazoun Najarian, Ambassador Armen Martirossian, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Council member Papken Megerian and Rev. Mardiros Chevian.

•Longtime representative of the US on the Organization for Security and Cooperation’s Minsk Group, Matthew Bryza, left the post and was replaced by Ambassador Robert Bradtke.

•Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Ma) died on August 25 after a long battle with cancer. Armenian-Americans joined the rest of the nation in mourning his death. He had been diagnosed with brain cancer in May 2008. He was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, after a final trip past the US Capitol. Previously, the hearse carrying his body from Hyannisport, Mass., where he had died, had driven to Boston, where hundreds of thousands of well-wishers lined the highway and the streets.

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•Yale fencing coach Henry Harutunian was inducted in the US Fencing Hall of Fame.

•Scholars gave their takes on the Nagorno Karabagh negotiations at a recent panel discussion at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) in Belmont, Mass., on the future of Karabagh and Armenia. Professors Levon Chorbajian, Asbed Kotchikian and Henry Theriault participated. The latter said that opening the border with Turkey — a powerful country compared to Armenia — could be a double-edged sword.

•In Los Angeles, a federal court ruled that Armenian-Americans cannot seek claims from foreign insurance companies who never paid the policies of Armenian Genocide victims, citing the lack of recognition of the Genocide by the US government. Armenians had won a favorable ruling in 2007. According to a ruling by District Judge Christina Snyder, California law gave them the right to sue three German insurance companies that had sold policies to Armenians in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. In a 2-1 ruling, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, saying the law undermined federal policy and could not take precedence over the lack of the US government’s recognition of the Genocide.

•On August 31, the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) launched a traveling exhibit, dedicated to the Armenian Legion, located at the Northbridge Town Hall in Whitinsville, Mass. The exhibit explored the formation, training, military action and post-war activities of this all-volunteer forces through photographs and narratives Hagop Arevian was one of the Legionnaires.

•Marilyn Devaney, who had served on the Watertown Town Council since 1981, announced she was pulling out of a race for council president and that she would retire in December. She said she wanted to spend more time with her family while remaining on the Governor’s Council, where she has served six terms.

Devaney

SEPTEMBER

•Memorial events honored the 10th anniversary of the death of Catholicos Karen I, the 131st Catholicos of All Armenians. Presiding over the memorial events in Echmiadzin were Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

•Turkey and Armenia agreed to establish diplomatic relations. A set of Protocols was released for establishing ties between the two nations. Many voices for and against the Protocols were raised. Opponents suggested that an item asking for the creation of a commission to study the events of 1915 as well as an item which suggested the importance of respecting the territorial integrity of the nations in the region, were both detrimental to Armenia. Proponents suggested that the commission, if established, could only find results that would confirm Armenians’ stand, while no mention was made of Karabagh that would cause the return of the republic to Azeri rule. Armenia repeatedly warned Turkey that linking the rapprochement between the two countries with the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Karabagh could ruin both.

•It was announced that the first-ever tribute to the Armenian Genocide was to be built in Israel by the Ararat Union of Armenians in Petach Tikva. The monument would be dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

•The Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, Mass., became home to 28 works by Arshile Gorky. The collection, given by anonymous donors, includes drawings and paintings that highlight the artistic accomplishments that have led Gorky to be ranked in the roster of important abstract expressionists such as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollack.

•A new Armenian church was consecrated in Scottsdale, Arizona. On September 20, Primate of the Armenian Church of America (Western) Archbishop Hovnan Derderian celebrated the Divine Liturgy as part of the ceremonies to consecrate St. Apkar Armenian Church here.

•A new book tried to explore the reason for the collective amnesia regarding the Armenian Genocide, in the period right after the incidents. The book, Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-Long Struggle for Justice, is the first book by Michael Bobelian. Bobelian toured the country extensively in support of his book.

•The ADL hosted a reception in honor of the new Armenian Ambassador to the UN Garen Nazarian.

•Armenian Grand-master Levon Aronian won the Grand Slam Masters Chess Tournament in Bilbao, Spain.

•Rudolf Kharatian, a choreographer and ballet teacher, was appointed artistic director of the National Ballet of Armenia. Kharatian, who hails  from Armenia, got his start as a dancer in that troupe, but moved to the US in 1991.

•Papken and Anahid Megerian received the St. Gregory the Illuminator Medal from the Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin II. The award is the highest in the Armenian Church.

Papken

From right, front row, Catholicos Karekin II, Anahid and Papken Megerian and Nora and Edmond Azadian; back row, from right, Arman Kirakossian and Ashod Ghazarian

•Philanthropist and developer Kevork S. Hovnanian, 86, died. He was the founder and chairman of the board of one of the nation’s largest home-building firms and was also the founder of the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR). A memorial service was held for him at St. Vartan Cathedral on October 3.

•President Serge Sargisian, in honor of the celebration of the 18th anniversary of Armenia’s independence, signed decrees to award a number of individuals from Armenia and the diaspora in the fields of education, journalism, healthcare, aviation and sports. Among those honored were Edmond Azadian of the ADL Eastern District Committee, and Hagop Avedikian, the editor of Azg.

•The Armenia Tree Project held a fundraiser at the home of Anthony and Nancy Barsamian, which yielded several hundred thousand dollars, to reach its goal of planting a million trees in Armenia this upcoming year.  From left, Rachel Kaprielian, Carolyn Mugar, Anthony Barsamian and Rep. James McGovern.

•Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk delivered a series of talks at Harvard this fall, where he was a visiting professor. The talks did not touch upon the Armenian Genocide, but on the art of the novel. His latest book, The Museum of Innocence, also was released this fall.

•Col. Moorad Mooradian, a longtime columnist for the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, died on September 30. Mooradian was born in Rhode Island and received his PhD from George Mason University. He was a four-time Fulbright Scholar to Armenia and established the first conflict-resolution center in any former Soviet state, In Armenia. He was a highly-decorated, 30-year Army veteran who served in Vietnam.

OCTOBER

•The Greater New York chapter of the TCA staged the first Armenian murder-mystery theater on October 10, titled “Who Killed the Eastern Dentist?”

•The governments of Armenia and Turkey signed a landmark agreement in Zurich to establish diplomatic relations between the two nations. Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian and his Turkish counterpart, Hamlet Davutuglu, signed the protocols, in the presence of their Swiss, French and American counterparts. While the various parties involved, including the Armenians, noted that nowhere is the solution of the Karabagh issue tied to relations between Armenia and Turkey, the Turkish government repeatedly suggests the two are connected. The parliaments of both nations need to ratify the protocols. Opposition forces in Armenia condemned the Protocols, branding them a sell-out. President Serge Sargisian addressed the nation and went on a tour of various diasporan communities, explaining the gains to Armenia of an open border with Turkey, particularly regarding the economy. Again, in late October, Davutoglu and his Azeri counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, met in Baku, where Davutoglu said that Turkey’s parliament would not ratify the agreements if the Karabagh issue was not resolved to the satisfaction of Azerbaijan.

•The ADL-Armenagan party held its inaugural convention in Yerevan. Among the speakers at the convention were Azg editor Hagop Avedikian, Dr. Arshavir Gundjian and Nubar Berberian. Several members of the ADL-Armenagan met with President Serge Sargisian in Yerevan before he left for a tour of the diaspora communities to discuss the Protocols.

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Parliament Photo

TCApress conference photo

•TCA Sponsor a Teacher Chair Maro Bedrosian of Chicago visited Armenia and dispersed more than $40,000 in funds raised to the program’s participating schools’ teachers and other staff.

•President Serge Sargisian arrived in New York to address a select group at the New York Palace Hotel about the Protocols. he suggested that the Karabagh issue, as well as the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, would not be affected by the Protocols. Sargisian said it was necessary to establish relations with Turkey without preconditions.

•The Ohio Elections Commission voted to reprimand David Krikorian on October 1 for making false statements. Krikorian’s attorney, Mark Geragos, expressed concern after the ruling that testimony supporting the allegations was not allowed at either the initial hearing, nor the follow-up.

•Armenian Assembly Board Member Annie Totah met with Vice President Joseph Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, to discuss issues of concern to the Armenian-American community.

Biden

•President Serge Sargisian made a historic visit to Turkey, where he watched the Armenian national soccer team play Turkey. While Armenia lost to Turkey, the international community generally reacted positively to the landmark visit.

•Support continued to grow in the community for Armenian Heritage Park, which is to construct a park featuring a monument to the Armenian Genocide on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston.

•Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and John Ensign (R-Nev.) introduced the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the US Senate.

•Vatche and Tamar Manoukian donated $11 million to the AGBU Pasadena Center and High School, which will be named for them. The Manoukians, of London, England, are longtime supporters of the AGBU.

NOVEMBER

•Noted painter and  sculptor Emil Kazaz was honored by the AGBU at a program in Pasadena, Calif. (OCTOBER 17, PAGE 12 photo)

•Legendary French composer Michel Legrand performed for the first time in Boston. On November 18, Legrand, accompanied by Grammy-winner Dionne Warwick and Quebecois singing sensation Mario Pelchat performed at Symphony Hall.

•Peter Balakian took part in a day-long seminar on the life and work of Raphael Lemkin, sponsored by the Center for Jewish History and American Jewish Historical Society on November 15 in New York. Many Holocaust and genocide scholars participated.

•The grandson of Cemal Pasha, one of the architects of the Armenian Genocide, Hasan Cemal, gave two talks in the Boston area. The first was at Harvard University, where a capacity audience heard him speak about his realization of the Armenian Genocide and his family’s role in it. The panel was moderated by Pamela Steiner, the granddaughter of Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, who was one of the eyewitnesses who raised the alarm while the Armenian Genocide was taking place. He also spoke at a program sponsored by the Friends of Hrant Dink, at the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center. Cemal and fellow panelists Taner Akçam and Asbed Kotchikian spoke about the changes in modern Turkish society, as well as the legacy of Hrant Dink.

•Fresno, Calif. became a  sister city with Echmiadzin.

•President Serge Sargisian and President Ilham Aliyev met in Munich, Germany, for the sixth time. Little progress was reported.

•Karabagh Premier Ara Harutunian and Karabagh Primate Archbishop Pargev Mardirossian visited Boston ahead of the Hayastan All Armenian Fund Telethon on Thanksgiving Day. This year’s telethon, which was broadcast from Los Angeles, was dedicated to the city of Shushi. The telethon raised $15.8 million.

•The Armenian Church decried the collapse of the St. Gevork of Mughni Armenian Church in Georgia. The Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II said that the deterioration and the collapse of the church were preventable.

DECEMBER

•The TCA announced that School No. 2 of Berdzor, in the Lachin Corridor region of Karabagh, has been renamed the Vahan Tekeyan School.

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Berdzor Photo 1

•President Obama vowed to continue to press for the unconditional normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, which he said should be completed in a reasonable time.

•Armenians marked the 21st anniversary of the Spitak earthquake. Requiem services were held around Armenia and diasporan communities around the world. President Sargisian said that reconstruction of the region is on target.

•The US Congress scaled back aid to Armenia and Karabagh, giving $41 million and $8 million, respectively. The allocation represented a 15 percent drop from the previous year, but it was higher than the level proposed by the Obama Administration.

•Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called President Sargisian after the latter’s threat to annul the fence-mending agreements if Ankara fails to unconditionally implement them. Clinton called to brief Sargisian on President Abdullah Gul’s recent visit to Washington and talks with President Obama.

•The National Council of Churches honored James Kalustian, a deacon at Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Greater Boston (Cambridge, Mass.), with an “Award of Excellence,” one of four it handed out at its general assembly in Minneapolis.  The award recognizes individuals who have advanced the ecumenical movement, met human needs, advocated for peace and justice or provided a strong voice in the Christian community. Kalustian is the first Armenian to be so awarded.

— Compiled by Alin K. Gregorian