Trump bans Armenian Austrian pianist

This classical music video from Armenia says about itself:

Nareh Arghamanyan: Khachaturian – Piano Concerto, Part 1


Yerevan, Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall

Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra (APO)

Eduard Topchyan, conductor

Nareh Arghamanyan, piano

By Norman Lebrecht:

Austrian pianist cancels US tour due to visa issues

January 30, 2017

The outstanding young pianist Nareh Arghamanyan has just posted this message:

I am very sorry to tell that due to unforeseen visa and border circumstances, I am forced to cancel the upcoming tour in the USA and Canada.

Sad for her, sad for the orchestras and audiences.

Nareh is Armenian by birth, Austrian by residence. Still in her 20s, she is extensively recorded.

Ms. Arghamanyan states: “I am holder of an Armenian passport (still waiting for my Austrian citizenship). The problem is that my Schengen visa is still in process (applied in November) and the usual traveling document which the Austrian government is giving to travel across the Atlantic is not being accepted by US border anymore, and I had to fly to Canada after the US and come back to Vienna via the US”.

Performers in the classical music field have joined the widespread protest over the Trump administration’s attempt to ban the entry of refugees and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries that he has branded the sources of terrorism. Symphony orchestras in major US cities (and many smaller cities as well) have large and growing numbers of immigrants in their ranks, and the music they perform is international in scope and history. Visiting orchestras, of course, consist almost entirely of non-US citizens: here.

The cases of Aaron Gach, Mem Fox, United Vibrations, Soviet Soviet and others: Artists, writers, musicians detained and bullied by US customs and border officers: here.

Artists who were harassed at the US border speak out: here.

Afghan all-girl engineering team denied US visas while robot granted entry. Students mystified by decision and forced to watch competition on Skype as US caught in wrangling over President Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim travel ban’: here.


‘Turkey’s Erdogan stoking Armenia-Azerbaijan war’

This video says about itself:

Human rights controversy surrounds European Games in Azerbaijan

14 June 2015

In Azerbaijan, a leading critic of the government has been escorted out of the country by Switzerland’s foreign minister.The activist has spent 10 months at the Swiss embassy, trying to avoid arrest. Meanwhile, there are calls to boycott a big sporting event because of the country’s human rights record. The European Games have just opened near the capital, Baku.

By James Tweedie in Britain:

Turkey ‘urging war’ to settle Nagorno issue

Saturday 23rd April 2016

Russia slams Ankara’s role in Caucasus dispute

RUSSIAN Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Turkey yesterday of stirring up war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

He was speaking after meeting his Armenian counterpart Eduard Nalbandyan to discuss the recent renewed conflict in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“The statements of the Turkish leadership are absolutely unacceptable,” Mr Lavrov said. “These were the calls not for peace but for war. These were calls to resolve the conflict by military means.”

“Unfortunately, we have got accustomed to such ‘twists’ of the current Turkish leadership,” he said.

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Minsk Group of Russia, France and the United States of “inaction” on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

Mr Nalbandyan said the recent fighting had pushed back talks over the contested territory.

“A serious blow to security and stability was dealt,” he said. “But one should think about how to overcome these consequences, although some things are irreparable — the deaths.”

“These events have pushed the negotiating process backwards,” he said.

The two former Soviet republics have been in dispute over the majority-Armenian oblast of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan since 1988, before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The two countries went to war in 1994, since when the region has been under Armenian jurisdiction.

Fighting flared up again on April 2, with dozens killed as Azeri forces tried to reoccupy the area. Turkey backed Azerbaijan’s position.

Russia, which has treaty obligations to Armenia and a military base in the country, joined the US, France and Iran in mediating a truce.

Last summer, the Armenian capital Yerevan saw weeks of anti-government protests in an apparent attempt at “colour revolution.”

Earlier yesterday, Mr Lavrov laid a wreath at the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian genocide memorial, a move sure to antagonise Ankara.

Turkey does not accept that the killing of up to 1.5 million ethnic Armenians by the Ottoman empire, beginning in 1915 and lasting several years, was an act of genocide.

Earlier this week the pro-Turkish group drew fire when it took out full-page newspaper and prominent billboard adverts in the US, including in the Wall Street Journal and New York’s Times Square, implying that Armenia and Russia were lying about the atrocities.

Ecotourism to save Armenia’s wildlife

This video says about itself:

Bird Migration Challenges in Armenia

30 September 2011

Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds founder Luba Balyan explains why bird migration is down around the world and tells us what humans can learn about their own migration from birds.

From BirdLife:

Using ecotourism to save one of Armenia’s most biologically diverse regions

By Samvel Grigoryan, Tue, 12/04/2016 – 09:08

The best way to get local communities to protect nature? Show them it’s in their best interests.

A perfect example is the Dsegh Important Birds and Biodiversity Area (IBA). Located in northern Armenia, not far from the border with Georgia, it is one of the most biologically diverse regions of the South Caucasus. Over 150 species of birds have been recorded in the IBA’s 18.500 ha, including magnificent birds of prey such as Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk and Peregrine Falcon. The European Roller, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Corncrake, Caspian Snowcock and Caucasian Grouse can also be spotted.

Stretching from River Debed south towards the foothills of the Halab mountain range in the Lori province, the IBA encompasses the land between the rivers Pambak and Marts and provides habitats from mountain steppes with prominent rocky outcrops to dense forests with closed canopies, and subalpine and alpine meadows. Because of this diversity, the region faces diverse threats, such as overgrazing, intensive agriculture, mining and logging.

To bridge the gap between Dsegh’s wildlife treasures and nature lovers, as well as to improve conservation with locals’ support, the Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds (ASPB, BirdLife in Armenia) is developing ecotourism in rural areas and has established a Nature Visitor Centre in the Dsegh IBA.

The purpose of the centre was to have local communities provide services and activites as ecotourism in the Lori region where Dsegh is located. This in turn supports and helps to improve their socio-economic status, as it provides numerous services to the tourists. In a virtuous cycle, the latter motivates these rural communities to play an active role in conserving natural resources and offering ways to solve problems by creating a balance between nature and human development.

After five years of hard work, ASPB opened the Dsegh Nature Visitor Centre to the public on 12 November, 2015. The centre was established with financial support from SVS (BirdLife in Switzerland), the UNDP’s GEF Small Grants Program in Armenia, the Rhône-Alpes Regional Council in France and ASPB, as well as in close partnership with Biotope, a French consultancy.

The centre includes a meeting and cinema hall, and a space with state-of-the-art exhibits on Dsegh’s wildlife. The centre also provides tourists with detailed and comprehensive information about the region and local sites (including bed and breakfasts run by locals where they can stay) as well as annual events, all of which will enhance the visitor’s understanding of the unique environment of Dsegh.

For the more outdoor-inclined, the centre incorporates tours and two hiking nature trails that people can hike themselves or explore with the help of local guides. “In designing and installing our trails, ASPB worked hard to have the lowest level of impact on the land possible while providing access to these special places,” said Luba Balyan, co-founder of ASPB. “We look at the forest as our home, as someplace that we want to protect and revere.”

ASPB believes that the Nature Visitor Centre in Dsegh will inspire the establishment of other information eco-centers in the country and South Caucasus region. ASPB hopes this innovative network will support not only the protection of nature but also the livelihood of all local communities across the region and will bring Armenia one step closer to nature.

Syrian brown bear cub at Armenian camera trap

This video says about itself:

Surprised bear cub in Armenia

17 July 2015

A young Syrian Brown Bear is surprised by a camera trap but soon musters enough courage to take a closer look.

From Wildlife Extra about this:

Rare footage of a Syrian Brown Bear surprised by a camera trap in Armenia

A rare young Syrian Brown Bear was taking a walk in the woods of Armenia’s Caucasus Wildlife Refuge when he came across a camera trap that first startled and then intrigued him.

The rare footage was caught by the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) on a camera installed with funding from the World Land Trust (WLT).

There are only around 150 Syrian Brown Bears surviving in Armenia and the populations are being monitored and their behaviour studied with the help of the camera traps.

In the Caucasus Refuge there are thought to be as few as two or three bears, which is also home to Bearded Vultures, Bezoar Goats and the endangered Caucasian Leopard.

The main threat facing Syrian Brown Bears in the area are habitat loss to agriculture, mining and quarries, and conflict with farmers over bee hives and fruit growing.

Two new areas of mountain habitat were recently purch[a]sed with the help of WLT, to further extend the potential safe havens for the bears.

Improve Turkish-Armenian relations, Dutch parliament says

Turkey and Armenia

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

The Dutch government must continue to call on the Turkish government to seek rapprochement with Armenia and to seek reconciliation. An overwhelming majority of parliament voted for a motion to that effect. Only the PVV and the Kuzu-Öztürk group voted against.

Geert Wilders‘ xenophobic PVV party hates everyone who is supposedly ‘racially impure’, whether that person is from Poland, Romania, Turkey, Armenia, Morocco or Suriname.

The Kuzu-Öztürk group are two MPs of Turkish ancestry, elected for the PvdA party (junior partner in the Dutch coalition government). They split from the PvdA because of differences on various issues (eg, they are more sympathetic to the Erdogan government in Turkey than the PvdA is).

The immediate reason for the motion is the commemoration of the Armenian genocide on April 24th.

Bird paradise in Armenia in danger

This 28 May 2013 video from Armenia says about itself:

Pan of one of the many fish ponds at Armash showing large numbers of White-winged Black Terns, Coots and Pygmy Cormorants, 9th May 2013.

From BirdLife:

Beautiful bird paradise in Armenia at risk after misuse of water resources

By Alessia Calderalo, Wed, 26/11/2014 – 08:54

Imagine a place where the Armenian, Turkish, Iranian and Azerbaijani borders converge on the banks of the Araks River, a place home to 220 bird species, a place full of water, plants and animals. This place, well known for its natural richness and beauty, is the Armash, one of the 18 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) in Armenia and among one the richest ornithological hotspots in the Caucasus. Sadly, it has recently been declared in danger.

Originally, Armash IBA was a semi desert area, but thanks to a series of man-made changes and the introduction of fish farming practices, the IBA developed a unique assemblage of habitats including water channels and ponds with wetland vegetation that gave the area its great conservation value. Armash is home to Globally Threatened species like Marbled Teal and White-headed Duck, and hosts rarities like Eurasian Spoonbill and the graceful White-tailed Lapwing, which cannot be found elsewhere in Armenia.

Armash was recognised as an IBA of global importance due to its exceptional natural richness and its importance for migratory birds that cross its national borders during Spring and Autumn. Unfortunately, over the last decade, water resources have been misused and the water springs used for drinking and irrigation in the villages of Ararat province have begun to dry up the area, threatening its unique wildlife.

The Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds (ASPB; BirdLife Partner) has been working for several years to save the area. The organisation has collaborated with the US Embassy, USAID and the Armenian Nature Protection Ministry to find solutions [for] its conservation. As a result of this collaboration, several alternative schemes of channelling water to Armash fish ponds have been proposed and developed.

However, despite these efforts, the water crisis persists and many ponds in the Armash IBA are quickly drying out, and are being replaced by farming lands. This is creating a transformation of the whole ecosystem in the area. Which gives an alarming prospective; if the authorities do not tackle the issue of waste water by adopting and implementing more restrictive laws, it is likely that species such as Marbled Teal will disappear.

ASPB hopes that the Armash IBA will be preserved as the natural paradise it has been for many years, and that the surrounding countries will actively contribute to this conservation.

For more information, please contact Tsovinar Hovhannisyan, Conservation Officer at ASPB.

Over 40% of marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (marine IBAs) in Europe are not protected, and two thirds of EU countries only protect 3% or less of their marine area (Territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zones). These are some of the shocking findings of Birdlife’s report “Marine Natura 2000 Progress Assessment released today. The report assessed the progress of 23 EU coastal countries in designating Special Protection Areas, using as reference BirdLife’s marine IBAs: here.