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27 March, 2014 / Nareg Seferian

Why Diplomacy and International Law Matter

Why Diplomacy and International Law Matter

The ongoing dispute over Crimea has led more than one person around me to welcome power politics and decisiveness in the use of force internationally, as opposed to negotiations. My own education leads me to believe that diplomacy and respect for international legal frameworks are not only highly valuable as such, they are the only means for stability and security in the long term. Here’s why.

Guns are important. They are very important, in fact. But no state would be willing to use them unless absolutely necessary. Troops are expensive, and every life counts, especially in those countries where there is accountability and free and fair elections: no-one is going to vote you back in power if you caused someone close to them to die. Ever since 1945, international use of force has been outlawed, except if approved by the UN Security Council, and in self-defence until the Security Council takes up the matter. Humanitarian intervention (the “Responsibility to Protect” or “R2P”) is a new category that has been slow to gain currency internationally, as opinions vary widely on recent cases, such as Libya. States as sovereign entities have thus agreed to ban the use of force by adopting the UN Charter. What is more, there is no provision to leave the UN in its charter. Almost all states signed on to this agreement after the Second World War, and new states ever since have been quick to join the UN. Statehood and UN membership are more or less synonymous today. Therefore, use of force has ceased to be a value in international affairs. War is no longer a glorious, patriotic undertaking, the way it was portrayed in centuries past.

19 March, 2014 / Nareg Seferian

Reflections on ‘Depat’ Armenians

Reflections on ‘Depat’ Armenians

I am a member of the Facebook group that the Repat Armenia Foundation maintains. I am, in fact, a fan of that organization, which provides assistance to Armenians who wish to move to the Homeland, whether in terms of technical or legal information, employment, or some guidance on housing. It’s the sort of function that one would have wished the state to perform, that one might have expected the Ministry of the Diaspora to take on, via Armenian embassies or otherwise. To be fair, we are talking about a big deal, highly resource-heavy in realization, and also ideologically and philosophically heavy in its own right.

The issue of moving to Armenia has been in focus in recent years, even celebrated, both because of the alarming numbers of emigrants from Armenia, and also because of the influx of Armenian refugees from Syria. The latter group has indeed been given some support both by the state and otherwise, but a significant part has moved on to a third country, or has returned to Syria.

15 March, 2014 / Nareg Seferian

Արեւմտահայերէն, Արեւելահայերէն՝ հնչիւններու, ձայներու տարբերութիւնները

Արեւմտահայերէն, Արեւելահայերէն՝ հնչիւններու, ձայներու տարբերութիւնները

Բարեւ, ու շնորհակալութիւն այս նիւթը դիտելու համար:

Կ’ուզէի ձեզի հետ կիսել Արեւմտհայերէնի եւ Արեւելահայերէնի միջեւ հինչիւնային գլխաւոր տարբերութիւնները:

Իրականութեան մէջ, այս երկու քոյր Հայերէնները իրարմէ բաւական կը տարբերին, ե՛ւ քերականութեան առումով, ե՛ւ բառապաշարով, եւ նաեւ ուղղագրական համակարգի փոփոխութեամբ, որ տեղի ունեցաւ Հայաստան Խորհրդային Միութեան ատեն, թէեւ Պարսկահայութիւնը կը շարունակէ Արեւելահայերէն գրել աւանդական ուղղագրութեամբ:

Յամենայն դէպս, ամենաանմիջական տարբերութիւնը որոնց հետ առընչութիւն կ’ունենան զանազան տեսակի հայախօսներ հնչիւններն են` ձայներուն արտասանութիւնը: Շատ ու շատ արեւմտահայախօսներ՝ այցելելով Հայաստան եւ դիտելով հայկական հեռատեսիլի յայտագիրներ, արդէն վարժուած կ’ըլլան այդ տարբերութիւններուն: Սակայն գուցէ ոմանք չեն ընկալած որ այդ տարբերութիւնները կանոնաւոր են. այսինքն ինչ-ինչ բառբարային կամ պատահական, խօսակցական երեւոյթներ չեն: Նշեմ նաեւ որ անշուշտ կան այլ լեզուաբանական նրբութիւններ, որոնց անդրադարձ չպիտի կատարուի: Այս հոլովակը՝ թեթեւակի մանրամասնելով, սովորական հայախօսին ուղղուած է:

Read more…

10 February, 2014 / Nareg Seferian

Արեւելահայերեն, Արեւմտահայերեն՝ հնչյունների, ձայների տարբերությունները

Արեւելահայերեն, Արեւմտահայերեն՝ հնչյունների, ձայների տարբերությունները

Բարեւ Ձեզ, ու շնորհակալություն այս նյութը դիտելու համար:

Ուզում եմ Ձեզ հետ կիսել Արեւելահայերենի ու Արեւմտահայերենի հնչյունների՝ ձայների, գլխավոր տարբերությունները:

Արեւելահայերենն ու Արեւմտահայերենը իրարից տարբերվում են ե՛ւ քերականության տեսանկյունից, ե՛ւ բառապաշարով: Սակայն, ես, որ հիմա Արեւելահայերեն քերականությամբ ու բառապաշարով եմ հաղորդակցվում, լինում է որ հնչյուններս, առոգանությունս միշտ չի բռնում, որով հետեւ բնիկ Արեւմտահայախոս եմ: Եւ ահա դա է առաջնային տարբերությունը Արեւելահայերենի ու Արեւմտահայերենի միջեւ՝ հնչյունները, լեզվի ձայները: Մինչեւ այս տեսանյութը վերջանա, հույս ունեմ որ կհասկանաք թե ինչպես Արեւմտահայախոսների հնչյունները կանոնավոր ձեւով են տարբերվում Արեւելահայախոսներից. այսինքն, պատահական բառբարայնություններ չեն դրանք, այլ՝ կանոնավոր տարբերություններ:

Read more…

30 January, 2014 / Nareg Seferian

Western Armenian & Eastern Armenian – Pronunciation Differences

Regular differences in pronunciation between Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian

Disclaimer, based on feedback: All major points and basic information are covered, but some exceptions and other nuances also exist.
_______

Hello, and thank you for watching this video on the regular differences in pronunciation between Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian.

The Armenian language has one, unique alphabet, as you can see.

But it has two formal, literary versions: Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian.

Although, for most educated Armenians, each is mutually-intelligible with the other, there certainly are differences in vocabulary (in words), grammar, and even in orthography, due to Soviet-era spelling reforms.

But the most immediate difference is in sounds — the pronunciation of letters.

Let’s take up those letters that make up those differences.

It boils down to these five sets of three letters. Read more…

29 January, 2014 / Nareg Seferian

Տավուշի խնդրով ՀՀ-ն ՄԱԿ-ի ԱԽ-ին կարող է, պետք է դիմի | Armenia Can and Should Appeal to UN Security Council Re: Azerbaijani Firing on Tavush

Տավուշի խնդրով ՀՀ-ն ՄԱԿ-ի ԱԽ-ին կարող է, պետք է դիմի

Տավուշի մարզի ուղղությամբ կրակելով՝ Ադրբեջանի Հանրապետությունը միջազգային իրավունքի կոպիտ խախտմամբ է հանդես գալիս, ու Հայաստանի Հանրապետությունը՝ որպես միջազգային իրավունքի սուբյեկտ, լիիրավ օժտված է ՄԱԿ-ի Անվտանգության խորհրդին դիմելու այս հարցով:

Միջազգային իրավունքի առանցքային կետը պետությունների միջեւ ուժի կիրառման կարգավորումն է: Երկրորդ աշխարհամարտի դաժան իրականությունից ելնելով, ՄԱԿ-ի Կանոնադրությամբ արգելվեց պետությունների ուժի կիրառումը մեկը մյուսի նկատմամբ:

… … …

Armenia Can and Should Appeal to UN Security Council Re: Azerbaijani Firing on Tavush

The Republic of Azerbaijan is in clear violation of international law by firing on the Tavush region on Armenia, and the Republic of Armenia, as a subject of international law, is in its full rights to appeal to the UN Security Council on this matter.

The essence of international law lies in the regulation of the use of force between states. Following the horrors of the Second World War, the UN Charter prohibits the use of force by states on other states.

… … …

19 July, 2013 / Nareg Seferian

Taxist Blues: Public Transport in Yerevan

Taxist Blues: Public Transport in Yerevan

I hate the taxis in Yerevan. Oh, all right, that’s not quite accurate. I dislike taking taxis in Yerevan, despite all the advantages they have to offer. Really, the best way to explore and get to know any city is on foot. And walking around Yerevan can really be wonderful, especially as it is indeed such a walkable city. You can easily get from Point A to Point B in your own shoes, something that is very hard to experience in, say, Los Angeles, for example. Of all the places I’ve lived and visited in the world—not that my sample is too immense, but, with modesty, I imagine it is sufficient to pass the following judgment—Yerevan’s taxis are among the most inexpensive and accessible in the world. It is difficult not to catch one, barring extreme circumstances. And almost anywhere to almost anywhere in the city center almost always costs 600 drams, what is known as the “minimal” (pronounced “mee-nee-mahl”). That’s something like one and a half American dollars. Where, I ask you, is it possible to have a personal car take you from door to door for that amount? Not in too many places in the Western world, I’d wager.

But I still dislike using taxis around here. I feel uncomfortable with the knowledge that there are a whole bunch of strangers in town who know exactly where I live. Oh, yes, it has happened that I’ve had the same driver more than once, and he has known, without my telling him, exactly where I’m headed. That’s just my paranoid self, because probably none of these “taxists,” as they are called, are planning on burglarizing the place while I’m away. And, in this city, sooner or later (let’s be honest: sooner), everyone knows where everyone else lives. That was the case long before Facebook.

1 June, 2013 / Nareg Seferian

The final frontiers: The various borders between Armenia and Turkey

The final frontiers: The various borders between Armenia and Turkey

For many in the US and fans of its pop culture, the expression ‘the final frontier’ is immediately associated with TV shows and movies set in the future, following the adventures of a spaceship on its explorations of the far reaches of the galaxy. Today, and on this very planet, a kind of frontier exists that has not quite reached its finality and that finds itself drawing more than one line — the border between Armenia and Turkey.

That the Armenian and Turkish peoples have historical baggage between them is not news. One reason for that phenomenon is the fact that different pieces of territory that have over the course of millennia been referred to as “Armenia” are located in areas that make up present-day Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia, even Syria and Iraq, apart from the Republic of Armenia itself. But, for the most part, the places that bear some Armenian heritage or other fall within Turkey today — and that heritage is almost entirely ignored, incessantly facing disrepair or purposeful destruction. The neglect becomes more evident when contrasted with the care given to the rich Ottoman heritage present in the country.

It is the past century in particular that has generated and sustained friction between Armenians and Turks. This is unsurprisingly accounted for by the historical legacy of the massacres and deportations of Armenians and other Christians of Asia Minor and Anatolia that took place in the late 19th and early 20th century, as the Ottoman Empire was drawing to a close and the Republic of Turkey was entering the arena of history. The qualification of that time period is disputed. Referred to as the Armenian genocide by most outside of Turkey and Azerbaijan, the characterization of “genocide” is disputed within the Turkish narrative.

10 May, 2013 / Nareg Seferian

A View from Erbil

A View from Erbil

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in the north of Iraq. The generosity of the KRG, in cooperation with the institution where I study, allowed for around 15 graduate-level students of international affairs to meet with regional officials and to explore some of the sights of that part of Iraqi Kurdistan.

As someone born and raised in India, Erbil seemed rather familiar to me. The layout of the city, the architecture, and the general flatness and climate were reminiscent of my native Delhi. But the people, their outlook, their culture, and certainly their food, spoke far more to my Armenian heritage, to say nothing of their dances. I was expecting as much. I just wish their shourchbar was faster-paced, but maybe they were toning it down for us foreigners. What I was not expecting was how very similar the countryside in Kurdistan would be to that of Armenia: the same rolling hills and valleys, more or less rocky, craggy, without all that much greenery. We saw a fair number of waterfalls as well. Plus, there was a brand-new téléphérique (I made sure to note how long it was, just to confirm that the record set up in Tatev remains unbeaten).

16 April, 2013 / Nareg Seferian

Why the Armenian Genocide Matters for America

Why the Armenian Genocide Matters for America

It’s that time of the year again. The run-up to the 24th of April – Armenian Martyrs’ Day – usually sees a slew of activity in Washington with one of the nation’s most persistent ethno-national lobbies clashing with the millions spent in counter-advocacy efforts by an active long-time member of NATO and close ally of the United States. It is not a balanced battle, but even though American citizens of Armenian descent have been a presence in Washington since the 1970s, all the political and financial clout coming out of Turkey has managed to stop short a presidential acknowledgement of “the g-word” (even if it was sort of slipped in a speech by President Ronald Reagan to commemorate the Holocaust). And even though the US Congress has twice, in 1975 and 1984, gone ahead with condemning “man’s inhumanity to man,” the recognition and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide at the national level has never been implemented as a federal policy.