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Prince Of Wales Supports Heritage Regeneration Project On Yerevan
October 30, 2015 - 17:40 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Charles, the Prince of Wales andArmen Sarkissian, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the Court of St James, have been working to support two important charitable projects -- Dumfries House in South West Scotland and Yerevan My Love, a heritage-led regeneration project in Armenia.
A special event took place at Buckingham Palace on October 27, 2015.
Prince Charles hosted a charitable Gala Evening for the benefit of British-Armenian charitable projects, with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, His Holiness Karekin II Catholicos and Supreme Patriarch of All Armenians attending the event.
Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra from St. Petersburg performed under the baton of Maestro Valery Gergiev, while Grand Prix winner of XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, July 2015, Mongolian baritone Ariunbaatar Ganbaatar brilliantly sang Tchaikovsky's Yeletsky's aria from Queen of Spades.
Ambassador Sarkissian thanked Prince Charles for his untiring efforts and dedication to both The Saving of Dumfries House and Yerevan My Love projects. He also thanked everyone attending the Gala Evening for their generous donations.
Prince Charles, in turn, thanked Armen Sarkissian and all the benefactors, particularly Haik and Elza Didizian and Vatche and Tamar Manoukian.
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Prince Charles Honors Armenian Genocide Victims
Emil Danielyan 29.10.2015
Six months after attending a ceremony in Turkey meant to deflect international attention from the centenary of the Armenian genocide, Britain’s Prince Charles paid tribute to its victims at a special church service held in London late on Wednesday.
The ecumenical service at Westminster Abbey was led by Bishop Richard Charters of London and Catholicos Garegin II, the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Charles attended it along with President Serzh Sarkisian.
“This evening we call to mind the killing of innocent Armenians a hundred years ago,” Rev. John Hall, another high-ranking Anglican cleric, said at the solemn ceremony featuring hymns sung by an Armenian church choir. “With sorrow we remember so much blood spilt. With thanksgiving we celebrate the Holy Martyrs and ask for their prayers.”
The service was part of worldwide events marking the 100th anniversary of the genocide, which began on April 24, 1915 with mass arrests of Armenian political leaders and intellectuals in Constantinople. Up to 1.5 million Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire were murdered or starved to death in the following years.
The most important events marking the genocide centennial in and outside Armenia took place on April 24, 2015. The Turkish government, which strongly denies that the 1915 massacres constituted genocide, tried to deflect the resulting international spotlight by holding its annual commemoration of a major World War One-era battle on the same day.
Ankara had traditionally celebrated the Turkish victory in the 1915-1916 Battle of Gallipoli on April 25. The Armenian government condemned it for moving up this year’s Gallipoli ceremony by one day.
Charles was among a host of mostly Muslim foreign leaders who took part in the ceremony at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s invitation. His participation upset many in Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora.
One of the likely reasons why Queen Elizabeth’s heir apparent took part in the Westminster Abbey service is his close rapport with Armen Sarkissian, the Armenian ambassador to the United Kingdom who has lived in London since the early 1990s. Sarkissian was instrumental in Charles’ 2013 visit to Armenia.
Statements by the press offices of President Sarkisian and Westminster Abbey did not list any senior British government officials among those who attended the service. Their apparent absence reflected the current and previous British governments’ refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide.
“Recognizing the genocide would provide no practical benefit to the UK,” the British Foreign Office advised ministers in a 1999 memo that was disclosed by “The Guardian” daily a decade later. The document cited “the importance of our relations with Turkey.”
In 2004, the then British ambassador to Armenia, Thorda Abbott-Watt, publicly stated that there is not enough evidence to term the Armenian massacres a genocide. The statement provoked a storm of protests in Armenia and the Diaspora, leading the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan to send a diplomatic note to London.
The UK Foreign Office adopted a more neutral stance on the sensitive issue in 2010. While continuing to oppose British recognition of the genocide, the office reportedly said that British officials should now stop openly denying it.
Ironically, official British documents dating back to World War One have been a major source of reference in the decades-long Armenian campaign for international recognition of the genocide. The Armenian Genocide Museum in Yerevan has a special plaque dedicated to Lord James Bryce, the main author of the British government’s 1916 Blue Book that detailed the mass killings and deportations of Ottoman Armenians.
2013 Armenia visit
Prince Charles Arrives In Armenia
Charles, the prince of Wales, arrived in Armenia on Tuesday on a three-day private visit which a senior British diplomat said reflects his interest in the country’s history and culture.
The eldest child and heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II thus became the first member of the British royal family to set foot in independent Armenia.
The main purpose of his trip is to promote a charity project in Yerevan planned by Armen Sarkisian, a London-based former Armenian prime minister. The project called “Yerevan My Love” is aimed at reconstructing historical buildings in the city and using them for charitable purposes. Sarkisian and Charles have jointly raised funds for that as well as a separate effort to restore a medieval castle in Scotland in recent years.
Charles headed to Yerevan’s famous Matenadaran museum of ancient Armenian manuscripts on his arrival at the Zvartnots international airport. No journalists were allowed to enter the building guarded by senior Armenian police officers. Officials at the British Embassy in Armenia said Charles familiarized himself with manuscripts before listening to a presentation of “Yerevan My Love” by Sarkisian.
Charles and Sarkisian made their way into the recently expanded Matenadaran building through a back door, wrong-footing several dozen Armenian environmental activists that demonstrated by the main entrance. They gathered there to urge the prince to help thwart plans by the British company Lydian International to mine gold at the Amulsar deposit in southeastern Armenia. They say that open-pit mining operations there would severely damage the local ecosystem, a claim strongly denied by the company.
Armen Sarkisian, who reportedly has extensive business interests in Britain joined Lydian International’s board of directors in March. The protesters noted this fact in a letter which they hoped to hand to Charles.
Jonathan Aves, the British ambassador to Armenia, promised to pass the letter on to Charles when he met the protesters outside the Matenadaran. Aves also offered to arrange a meeting between their representatives and the prince’s private secretary.
While agreeing that there are “legitimate concerns” regarding mining at Amulsar, Aves stressed that he is “impressed” by Lydian’s approach to environmental issues. “We expect that they will do their best to meet all the regulations and rules that are required to establish their operations,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). The diplomat added that the Armenian government is “working hard” to ensure that the British company complies with those rules.
Aves also declined to give more details of Charles’s other sightseeing activities, citing the private nature of the visit. The British envoy said that the world-famous prince is “interested in cultural monuments and the history of Armenia.”
Sarkisian Meets, Lauds Prince Charles
President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday met with Britain’s visiting Prince Charles and praised his contribution to charitable work done in Armenia by a former Armenian prime minister based in London.
The Armenian presidential press service said the two men discussed Armen Sarkisian’s “Yerevan, My Love” project to reconstruct historic buildings in the Armenian capital and use them for benevolent purposes. In a statement, it said they also addressed “the high-level British-Armenian political dialogue” and ways of boosting ties between Armenia and Britain.
President Sarkisian also spoke of his fond recollections of a 2010 meeting with Queen Elizabeth II in London. The Armenian leader visited the British capital at the time to also attend a fundraising gala organized by Charles and the former Armenian premier in support of the Yerevan project.
“Our people’s attitude towards you is special, and the reason for that is your large-scale benevolent activities,” Sarkisian was quoted as telling Charles. “A vivid example of that is your active participation in and your contribution to the ‘Yerevan, My Love’ project.”
According to the presidential statement, Charles stressed the importance of the project as well as the ongoing construction of an international high school in the Armenian resort town of Dilijan. The construction is being financed by Ruben Vardanian, a prominent Russian-Armenian investment banker.
The Dilijan school, which is due to start functioning next year, will be part of the British-based United World Colleges (UWC) network comprising more than a dozen educational institutions around the world. Charles was the UWC’s president from 1978-1995.
Vardanian presented the school project at a meeting held during Charles’s visit to Yerevan’s Matenadaran museum of ancient Armenian manuscripts on Tuesday. The Armenian-born tycoon also announced that an alley of 65 trees named after the Prince of Wales will be planted in Dilijan soon.
Prince Charles Ends Visit To Armenia
Britain’s Prince Charles ended a three-day private visit to Armenia on Thursday with a meeting with Catholicos Garegin II at the Echmiadzin headquarters of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
A spokesman for Garegin, Rev. Vahram Melikian, said the supreme head of the Armenian Church briefed the prince of Wales on its “historical mission in the life of the Armenian people” and “important role in the restoration of independent statehood.” He also spoke about “close links” existing between the Armenian and Anglican churches, Melikian said.
The former Anglican pontiff, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams visited Echmiadzin in 2007. He and Garegin attended a reception that was organized there by the British Embassy in Armenia to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday.
Garegin then took Charles on a tour of the Armenian church’s Mother See in the town 20 kilometers south of Yerevan, showing him its main cathedral, an adjacent museum of church treasures, and other buildings.
One of those buildings serves as a repository for church manuscripts and other religious books. It was constructed last year with the financial assistance of Vatche Manukian, a British businessman of Armenian descent.
Manoukian arrived in Echmiadzin to attend a reception that was held at the repository in honor of Charles. Armen Sarkisian, a London-based former Armenian prime minister who organized the prince’s visit, was also in attendance.
According to Melikian, Charles also visited three medieval Armenian monasteries during the trip. “The prince listened to information that was presented to him there with great interest, and I think that he thoroughly enjoyed his visit,” the church spokesman told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Yerevan My Love
A charity event as part of the “Yerevan My Love” project initiated by Prince Charles and Sarkissian took place in Windsor Palace on February 10, with visiting President of Armenia Serzh Sarkisian (no relation to the ex-premier) attending the reception. The project is dedicated to preserving architecturally significant buildings in Yerevan and putting them to use to improve the life experience of disabled children, young people and disadvantaged families. Its first beneficiaries are four structures of historic and architectural value in the center of Yerevan, which will serve as social centers for vulnerable groups and gifted children under the auspices of Holy See Saint Etchmiadzin. The February 10, 2010 reception hosted by Prince Charles was also attended by many Diaspora Armenians, who had specially arrived in London from different countries for the occasion.
“I also hope that it will grow into a sort of cultural movement in which, of course, there should be no political or partisan presence – this is just an attitude towards the city,” said Sarkissian. “My friendship with Prince Charles led us to a very natural idea to have a night to serve several purposes, first Armenian-British friendship, then gathering friends from different corners of the world who share our ideas or attitude, and for us it was also a means to launch the project.”