Having kept the chess-loving Nation and its schoolchildren in suspense for almost 8 months, the 8th Chess Interschool Tournament finally came to an end. From May 5-8, the finals of the 8th Republican Chess Tournament took place in Stepanakert. After an intense and relentless struggle, only 72 participants from initial 15,000 (18 teams, 4 participants in each) moved on to the final round. These 18 teams competed for the coveted first place and prizes. As well as the competition, the children took part in a series of trainings and visits organized by the RA Chess Academy.




AGBU, the American University of Armenia (AUA), and Armenia’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces have launched a new scholarship program that will serve soldiers and representatives of the military. The initiative was officially announced at a recent meeting attended by AGBU Central Board member Vasken Yacoubian, Armenia’s Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan and AUA president Dr. Bruce Boghosian. Together at the ministry, they signed an agreement detailing the different courses and activities that will be funded by AGBU and implemented by AUA. The program will provide new educational opportunities to service members at every phase of their military career. 





For the second consecutive year, AGBU Europe, EGAM (European Grassroots Antiracist Movement) from France and Turkish DurDe (Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism) and IHD, a Turkish Human Rights Association, initiated a series of events in Istanbul and Armenia to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. Headed by these organizations, thousands gathered at Istanbul's Taksim Square on April 24 to pay tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide by Ottoman Turkey. Following the events in Turkey, members of the international delegation headed to Armenia to visit the Genocide Memorial and Museum, meet with non-governmental organizations dealing with Armenian-Turkish relations and share their impressions and opinions during a press conference. On April 25, a delegation of 10 people representing AGBU Europe, EGAM, DurDe and IHD arrived in Yerevan. The series of commemoration events in Armenia began with a press conference by Benjamin Abtan, President of EGAM (France), Levent Sensever (DurDe, Turkey), Diana Hancaro (Hayk, Germany) and Hovik Eordekian, Interim Director of AGBU Armenia, at Armenpress Press Club on April 26. “It’s the second year that AGBU Europe, together with Turkish and European human rights organizations and NGOs, organizes a series of events in Turkey to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. The events attract more and more people, who come united for justice, human rights protection and recognition of the Armenian Genocide”, said Hovik Eordekian. EGAM President Benjamin Abtan said, “We are very often asked, why we, being non-Armenians, seek recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The answer is very simple: Genocide is not an issue of one nation or one ethnic group, it’s an issue for all mankind. Fighting against Genocide denial we fight against Genocide. Genocide denial is the main ideology of the Turkish government. But there are individuals and organizations in Turkey that have their own opinion on this and are by our side.” Speaking of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent statement Abtan said, “Erdogan’s statement means nothing to me. Of course, the tone is different, but there is denial in the statement, which is already violence against history and against mankind. No society is strong enough to stop the movement that is uprising in Turkey and no country is naive enough to be misled by Erdogan’s statement and ignore the facts”. Abtan stated that he expressed the same ideas and used the same words in Turkey.

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A conference entitled The Road to Integration was held at the AUA Business Center in Yerevan on April 28. The one-day Conference aimed at better understanding and representing the interests of families displaced by the conflict in Syria and seeking protection in Armenia was organized by the Syrian-Armenian Relief Coordination Center (SARCC) NGO as part of a project funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Armenia. The participants of the Conference, including the main guests, Ms. Hranush Hakobyan, the Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia (RA), Mr. Levon Sargsyan, Ambassador at large and Pyunik NGO President, Mr. Christoph Bierwirth, UNHCR Armenia Representative, Mr. Vasken Yacoubian, AGBU Central Board Member, Sergey Manasaryan, Deputy Foreign Minister of RA, other government authorities, representatives of diplomatic missions, local and international organizations as well as Syrian-Armenian businessmen, doctors, scholars and artisans, discussed issues related to integration: the success and challenges faced by the vulnerable displaced Syrian-Armenian families in their legal, socio-economic and cultural integration in the host country, Armenia. The Conference granted an opportunity to the parties to not only present their accomplishments but to mutually identify the gaps hindering the integration process of the displaced families, namely, language barriers and cultural peculiarities; limited chances of well-paid employment, income generation prospects, in remote regions, in particular, the harsh socio-economic environment the Syrian-Armenians are not used to as well as the local business and taxation practice they are still unfamiliar with.The participants were however glad to note that the displaced families felt safe in Armenia and expressed gratitude for the emergency response and various assistance efforts undertaken by the Government of Armenia, namely, the Ministry of Diaspora and the State Migration Service, other entities, such as the State Employment Service Agency, Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development National Center of Armenia; the Church and the Armenian Diaspora; international and local organizations, such as UN Agencies: UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF, AGBU SARCC, Mission Armenia, The Armenian Red Cross Society, AMAA, Armenia Caritas and many local Armenian individuals.







Chess as the most popular and beloved sport continues to reach new heights in Armenia. In recent years, thanks to the Republican Interschool Chess Tournament, organized by the Chess Academy of Armenia and RA Education Ministry, and sponsored by AGBU, chess has become one of the most popular games in Armenia, especially among children and young people. In 2012 Chess became part of the official curriculum in secondary schools which is yet another reason for the popularity of the game among this age group. The 8th Chess Republican Interschool Tournament started in September 2013. Winners of the first two rounds went on to the regional semi-finals, which took place in Yerevan, Stepanakert and all the regional centers between March 25 and April 10. AGBU Central Board Member Vasken Yacoubian, AGBU Armenian Representation Interim Director Hovik Eordekian, members of the AGBU Armenia Representation staff were present at all the semi-final matches of the tournament together with Smbat Lputyan, President of the Armenian Chess Academy and Vice-Chairman of the Armenian Chess Federation. Also present at the Yerevan semi-finals were Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan and Deputy Mayor and Head of the Yerevan Municipality Culture Department Aram Sukiasyan. The top three Yerevan teams were: school #187 (3rd place), school #119 (2nd place) and school #2 (1st place). These three teams from Yerevan together with 15 other winning teams from the regions will continue their struggle for the title of the overall winner at the Stepanakert finals in May. “The first three teams will go on to the next round. We have almost secured our place among the top three and we will work harder during the finals to bring honour to our school and our city,” said Mariam from Yerevan school #119. “We have always been willing to support the development of chess in Armenia and when the opportunity presented itself to sponsor this tournament we gladly accepted and have been funding this interschool tournament for the past seven years,” said Vasken Yacoubian. AGBU presented trophies to all the teams, MP3 players to all the participants of the semi-finals, and ASUS tablets to the winners. AGBU has also prepared gifts for the final stage of the tournament scheduled for May 2014. Since its inception in 2008, the Republican Interschool Chess Tournament has produced many players who have graduated to the professional level and have taken home prestigious awards from Armenia's Youth Chess Championship, the Republic of Armenia Chess Championship and the international Vladimir Dvorkovich Cup in Moscow. AGBU has been a tournament sponsor for the last six consecutive years. Every year close to 15,000 students, ages 7-17, between grades 1-12 and representing over 1,000 schools, participate in this tournament.

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