A Good Time to Come to Berlin

The visit of Armenian President Armen Sarkissian to Germany at the end of November may not have received the same international media attention as the G20 summit meeting and escalating political crises in various parts of the world, but it deserves serious consideration, as it signaled a positive step forward in relations with Germany at a time of momentous developments inside Armenia as well as growing challenges in Europe. Issues of mutual concern were discussed, important past achievements were commemorated, steps were taken to deepen relations and concrete joint projects were officially signed.Read Further...

‘Ex Occidente Lux!’ Armenia and the West

“Since the early Middle Ages, since the invasion of the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century, the Armenians have been fighting for the restoration of their independence in their own land — with unshakeable hope. In this they have traditionally expected aid from the Christian West. Germany has had an important role in this context.”
Thus reads the text of an invitation issued for an event held recently in Bochum, a city in the Ruhr region. The timing could not have been more opportune; since last May, friends of Armenia abroad have been following the developments associated with the Velvet Revolution with keen interest. Read Further...

Armenian Artist Hosts Student Exhibition

Nona Gabrielyan is the proud representative of an Armenian family that has produced four generations of artists (so far). This is not only in Armenia; in Germany, where she has lived with her artist husband Van Soghomonyan for the last quarter of a century, she has also been midwife to a generation of German artists. On November 24, she presided over the vernissage of an exhibition of works by a group of her students.Read Further...

Casa Armena Welcomes Guests from Yerevan

On November 17, members of the Armenian community in Milan delighted in the music offered them by two young sopranos visiting from Yerevan. Lusine Arakelyan and Amalia Baloyan sang arias from Italian composers Verdi and Bellini, as well as works, by Komitas, B. Kachean, Dolukhanyan, A. Babajanyan. and others. They were accompanied by pianist Marina Vardanyan. In the photo, from left to right: Amalia Baloyan, Marina Mavian, president of the Casa Armena, and Lusine Arakelyan. Read Further...

Armenian Artists Come to Austria

Thirty years ago, Gyumri was almost totally obliterated by an earthquake that devastated nearby Spitak and other cities of the Shirak region. Slowly the city, known as the cultural capital of Armenia, has been rebuilt and its artistic community again flourishes. Not only are the new music schools filled with eager students, but painters and sculptors are continuing to generate works of beauty.
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Two Decades of Armenian Studies in Germany

It is a unique institution in the country, the only center specializing in Armenian studies, Armenology. When the Mesrop Arbeitsstelle für Armenische Studien (Mesrop Center for Armenian Studies) at the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg observed its 20th anniversary on October 18-19, it celebrated the special role it has played in bringing knowledge of the Armenian language, literature, culture and history to not only academic circles but also the broader public. Much has been achieved, and the potential for development is even greater. Since the Bundestag (Parliament) passed a resolution in June 2016 recognizing the Armenian genocide, interest in Armenia has expanded immensely. For many Germans that political act opened the door to discovery of a hitherto unknown people and their culture. Several new studies, especially of the history of the genocide, have appeared and been well received. But there is more to Armenia and Armenians than the genocide. Read Further...

The Visit of Erdogan

One might have thought the Queen were coming, what with all the media coverage, the background reports and the talk shows, the editorials and interviews. For well over a week before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan landed in Berlin for a three-day state visit, the event dominated the political debate.
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The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall

It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!” “It’s Superman — yes, it’s Superman!”
When on August 27 of this year, a four-meter-high statue, bundled up like a mummy in white wrapping, was transported to the German Unity Plaza in Wiesbaden, Germany, as one of the exhibits making up the city-wide Wiesbaden Biennale for Contemporary Art, no one knew the identity of the being concealed inside the packaging. The organizers had requested and received permission to present the thing, identifying it as a “manlike statue” — or a “statue resembling a human being” might be a better translation. From its exterior shape, it was clearly neither a bird nor a plane. And since it could not fly, it was not Superman. Who could it be? Read Further...

A Balancing Act in the South Caucasus

While on tour in the South Caucasus last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was walking a tightrope, in an attempt to carefully balance geopolitical, economic and human rights concerns. Though some critical commentaries greeted her on return to Berlin, the overall evaluation of her trip was positive, and for good reason. Read Further...

Merkel in the South Caucasus: A Thorny Diplomatic Agenda

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Armenia at the end of August as part of a regional tour that will include Georgia and Azerbaijan. She is expected to arrive in Yerevan on August 24 (after press time) for a two-day working visit, during which she will meet with both Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Armen Sarkissian. Following her talks with the former, which should deal with bilateral relations, economic issues and the European Union, the two are scheduled to hold a joint press conference.Read Further...

Behind the New Threats to Iran

There can be no doubt that there is a new, immediate threat of destabilization, if not war, against Iran. As reported in major media and detailed in several articles on this website, the Trump administration, in tandem with Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, has been signaling its bellicose intentions loudly.


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Armenian Musician Emmanuel Tjeknavorian Celebrated in Germany

Among the many special cultural events held in Germany during the summer, the Rheingau Music Festival is perhaps the most famous, not only for its location in the magnificent castles and basilicas of the Rhine valley, but also for the world class performers it invites. Among them this year is the 22-year-old exceptional violinist Emmanuel Tjeknavorian.

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Two-Week Immersive Armenian Course Big Success with German Students

BERLIN — Young people engaged in Armenian studies who want to learn about the country first-hand can take advantage of one of the many programs offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) (https://www.daad.de/en/). Read Further...

Young Armenian Musicians Delight Audiences in Vienna and Berlin

Music lovers in Europe are not surprised when they discover an Armenian or two among the performers in the orchestra or chorus on stage at a classical concert. Now and again there are special guest performances of soloists, or dancers that tour Europe, like the famous Geghard dance ensemble. But it is highly unusual to attend a concert of young Armenian children. In late June-early July, just such a rare treat was offered in Vienna and Berlin, as a group of music students from Yerevan displayed their talents.Read Further...

Gratitude from the Diaspora

Last month a leading Armenian association made headlines in Germany, after it was formally announced that Armenian philanthropist Noubar Afeyan was donating 200,000 euros from the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative to a project to reconstruct a historical church now lying in ruins. The Court and Garrison Church in Potsdam, as its name betrays, is a church constructed originally for members of the royal court and military to worship. It was built by architect Philipp Gerlach from 1730 to 1735, on orders of Friedrich Wilhelm I, who was known as the soldier-king. He and his son, Friedrich the Great, were buried there.
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From Berlin to Yerevan — Direct

The revolutionary developments in the Republic of Armenia have sparked enormous interest in Germany and a new air link between the two capitals promises to fuel that interest even more. Germania, an independent German airline, has proudly announced that its first direct flight from Berlin to Yerevan took place 16-17 June.Read Further...

Turks Go to the Polls in Germany

By all forecasts, the outcome of the parliamentary and presidential elections in Turkey will be close, so close, some say, that there could be a runoff for the presidency. If Recep Tayip Erdogan does not receive a clear majority in the first round on June 24, he could face a candidate backed by a coalition of opposition parties. Two weeks later, a runoff would be called on July 8 (from June 30 to July 4 for voters abroad). And in that case, the votes cast by Turkish citizens living outside the country, who make up an estimated 5 percent of the total electorate, could prove decisive.Read Further...

German Officers’ Role in Armenian Genocide Explored

Retired Brigadier General Eckhard Lisec (photo) delivered a lecture at the Lepsius House in Potsdam on May 17, on “The Armenian Genocide in World War I — German Officers Involved?” At the outset, Lisec made clear that there was no doubt that this was genocide. then he moved to the issue of the role of Germany, allied to the Ottomans.Read Further...

Piecing Together the Words of a Saint

A revolutionary technology developed in Germany has made it possible to reconstruct an early version of Saint Gregory of Narek’s Book of Prayers (or Lamentations), conserved in the Matenadaran in Yerevan. The work is a manuscript dating back to the 13th-14th century, and is one of the earliest copies of the 10th century original, which has been lost. The task presented to restorers seemed hopeless due to the desperate condition of the manuscript. The book had fallen into decay, its pages reduced to fragments, and those were in utter disarray so that it was impossible to place the individual pieces of pages in their original order.Read Further...

Towards Transnational Remembrance and Reconciliation

Armenians who gathered in Frankfurt’s historic Paulskirche this year for the traditional commemoration of the 1915 genocide were among the first to join in prayer with the new Primate of the Armenian Church in Germany, Archimandrite Serovpe Isakhanyan. He was elected as the successor to Archbishop Karekin Bekjian on April 15, and confirmed by Catholicos Karekin II on April 19. Another novelty was the presence of two representatives of the Armenian youth community. And a very special guest was Hrachuhi Bassenz, world famous opera singer.Read Further...

Journalist Can Dündar in German Exile

It is well known that Germany has received the largest number of refugees in Europe over the last years. But few realize that in addition to those fleeing war and terrorism in Iraq and Syria, are increasing numbers of Turks, fleeing Erdogan’s regime. They are diplomats, military personnel, opposition figures and journalists seeking asylum. Can Dündar, formerly editor of Cumhuriyet, is a member of this new Turkish guest-worker community, here in exile.Read Further...

Between Remembrance and Expectation

This year’s commemoration of the genocide was different in Germany. To be sure, there were speeches recalling the dark and tragic events of 1915, and there were demands for progress in implementing the measures contained in the genocide recognition resolution passed by the Bundestag (Parliament) in June 2016. There was magnificent music performed by talented young Armenians, and the ceremonies concluded with solemn prayers for the souls of the victims.Read Further...

Armenia Seeks Foreign Policy Balance

BERLIN — In the current Cold War climate in East-West relations, exasperated by the British-Russian crisis around the Skripal affair, it has become increasingly difficult for smaller nations to maintain an independent stance in the interest of protecting friendly relations with both the West and Russia. No one knows this better than the Armenians. Thus, when Ambassador Ashot Smbatyan was invited to speak at the Lepsiushaus in Potsdam on March 22, he faced an audience of intellectuals, political figures, diplomats and members of the Armenian community, eager to hear his views on “Armenia and Europe: Taking Stock, with a View to the Future.”Read Further...

Weaving Close Ties between Germany and Armenia

BERLIN — “Wisdom is the art of considering things from all sides.” The saying is by Nerses Shnorhali and it was printed in Armenian and in German on the invitation issued by the Armenian Embassy in Berlin to a ceremony on March 23. And it fit the occasion: we were invited to attend an event honoring two outstanding individuals who might be considered practitioners of the “art” in the political and cultural realm.Read Further...

The Plight of Afrin Reverberates Across Europe

On March 18, the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) carried a bold banner headline: “Battle for Afrin Now Also in Germany.” That night, television news reporters announced the fall of Afrin. And the violence on German soil has not abated. Over recent years, German politicians have increased their warnings that the political conflict inside Turkey, between AKP loyalists and opposition groups, could spill over onto German soil. Now it is the warring parties in Syria whose proxies and sympathizers are clashing here.Read Further...

Self-Defense or Violation of International Law?

Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria is coming under growing censure throughout Europe. It will be high on the list of foreign policy challenges facing the German government which has just come into being. Under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel, a new version of the grand coalition made up of her CDU and sister party CSU, together with the Social Democrats (SPD), was officially constituted in mid March.Read Further...

Educators and Parliamentarians in Talks on Education

Berlin played host last week to a group of teachers from Armenia and Georgia, who had come to learn more about the education system in the German Federal Republic. Their visit was arranged by the German-Armenian Forum (Deutsch-Armenische Forum), an initiative launched in May 2015 by Albert Weiler, a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) member of the Bundestag (Parliament), along with more than 30 private individuals, MPs and representatives of business, scientific and cultural institutions.Read Further...

Ecumenical Altars of Remembrance in Berlin

It was a bitter cold day in mid-February, with a strong wind that chilled to the bone. As we walked from the bus stop and entered the Luisenkirchhof III cemetery through the huge gate, I thought about the women and children being deported from their homes in Ottoman Empire over a hundred years ago, and what immense suffering they must have faced as they wound their way through inclement weather, on their march toward death.Read Further...

German Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Afrin

As the Turkish military offensive in Afrin has escalated, the caretaker government in Germany has come under growing pressure to intervene to stop the bloodshed. Since Germany has supplied Turkey with military equipment, its role has been subject to harsh criticism. Photographs of the Turkish actions aired on television confirmed suspicions that German tanks were indeed involved in the aggression against the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish militias, who have been battling IS. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel declared that any decision regarding modernization of Turkey’s military — an item which had been discussed at the beginning of the year in bilateral meetings — would be put on ice, and deferred to the new government.Read Further...

Germany Appoints Honorary Consul in Gyumri

Gyumri has good reason to celebrate. One of its most prominent sons has been chosen as the honorary consul of Germany and this will bring relations between the two countries, on the political, economic and cultural level to new levels. The official ceremony took place on January 26, 2018.

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Carrying On Hrant Dink’s Legacy

On the 11th anniversary of the murder of Hrant Dink in front of his Agos office in Istanbul, Turks and Armenians and Germans gathered in several German cities, not only to commemorate his passing but to celebrate his life’s work, with a pledge to continue his struggle for equality, dignity and reconciliation. Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne were among the several venues for events on January 19-20, where speakers from the Armenian community joined with Turkish intellectuals, journalists and artists — many in exile here — and German human rights activists.
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Erdogan’s New Year’s Resolutions

January 1 is always a good time for pledging better behavior. It is a time for political leaders to reflect on the outgoing year and project plans for the immediate future. Turkey was no exception. In his New Year’s Eve address, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that after a hard year, he was looking forward to being a friend of Europe again. His country would like to minimize the number of its enemies and increase the number of its friends, he said. There were actually no problems, he continued, with European countries, like Germany or the Netherlands; indeed they were old friends.Read Further...