The love survey, run by the Gallup Organization, asked respondents in 135 countries if they had experienced love the day before; the most negative responses came from Armenia. Its neighbors, Georgia and Azerbaijan, are not the world’s most amorous places, either.
Georgia is only three countries -- Uzbekistan, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan -- ahead of Armenia on the love chart. Azerbaijan sits in the similarly love-starved 126th place.
So, if money's not it, what's the reason for Armenia's lack of love? Could communism have something to do with it?
With the exception of Morocco, the ten most loveless countries all share a Soviet past.
Whatever the case, governments and international development agencies should take note. Looks like it's time to devise national love policies, provide tax privileges for lovers and, even, love grants to encourage grassroots activity.
The return of ethnic Armenians from Syria to their ancestral homeland has born its fruit. RFE/RL has posted a video of a baby boy born in Yerevan late last month to one of the many Syrian-Armenian families who have escaped the fighting in Aleppo for refuge among their ethnic kin. In a symbolic gesture, the baby has been named "Christ" in recognition of Armenia's status as the first country in the world to adopt Christianity.
The baby Christ weighs 3.5 kilos, is 53 centimeters tall and is the first child to be born to a Syrian-Armenian family in Armenia after fleeing Syria.
There may not be three kings in Yerevan to greet and shower the baby with frankincense, gold and myrrh, but there is Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobian. She visited the mother and child in the hospital, and promised state assistance should Christ decide to make Armenia his home.
But not all the Syrian-Armenian news is that heart-warming. In the hometown of Christ's parents, Aleppo, four Syrians of Armenian descent were killed and 11 were wounded on September 11 after returning from Yerevan. The rebel Free Syria Army reportedly shot at the group as they were looking for a safe way to head home from the airport, according to Armenpress.am.
France apparently has written a new chapter in its history textbooks, and in its recent history of confrontation with Turkey. The story of Ottoman Turkey's slaughter of ethnic Armenians, which Ankara claims was collateral damage from World War I, has been included in France's high-school-level world history textbooks, Armenian and Turkish media report.
The news comes just as Paris and Ankara were hesitantly trying to make up after a bitter diplomatic row over a law (eventually scrapped by France's Constitutional Court) that criminalized assertions that the massacre was not genocide.
In July, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu traveled to Paris to talk trade and ways of crafting "a new understanding" in Franco-Turkish ties.
In August, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius returned the courtesy with a trip to Turkey to discuss the Syria crisis and to visit a Syrian refugee camp.
Nonetheless, the law's influence lingers on. Before his election this year, President François Hollande told voters (and, in particular, Armenian Diaspora voters) that "a new law" would address assertions that the massacres were not genocide.
Armenia is just not big enough to accommodate all the ethnic Armenian refugees from Syria, say some concerned Armenian observers. Almost 5,200 Syrians, mostly of Armenian descent, have requested Armenian citizenship since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, and the influx is touching off concerns in the small, cash-strapped Caucasus country.
Syrians with Caucasian roots continue to flee to their distant ancestral lands across the Caucasus. Even troubled spots like the breakaway region of Abkhazia, and, in Russia's North Caucasus, the regions of Kabardino-Balkaria and Adygea, seem safe and welcoming places to be.
But it is Armenia that is facing the biggest Diaspora homecoming. An Aleppo-Yerevan flight keeps bringing in more and more Syrians. Some say they are moving temporarily to weather out the storm at home, while others are ready to call Armenia home.
“My ancestors moved to Syria, escaping the genocide [of Armenians] in Ottoman Turkey. Now we have fled that once peaceful country,” one Syrian migrant told Kavkazsky Uzel news service. He hopes to make it in Armenia with his family or try to move Los Angeles, home to his brother and a large ethnic Armenian community.
Armenian authorities say they are eager to take in refugees, but concerns are growing over their ability to do so. And over the dwindling ethnic Armenian presence in the Middle East. Ethnic Armenians have lived in Syria for centuries and the Armenian government should not let that community disappear, Yerevan State University's Arab studies expert Ayk Kocharian told Kavkazsky Uzel.
In case you were worrying, rest assured that Caucasus celebrity Matthew Bryza, the never-confirmed former US ambassador to Azerbaijan, has, according to Azerbaijani media, "found a new job." Or, as one news outlet from Azerbaijani enemy Armenia, put it: "The Azerbaijanis found a job for Bryza.”
Bryza, a household name for everyone in (or with an interest in) the Caucasus, left Baku in 2011 after the US Senate, with active prodding from Armenian Diaspora lobbyists, failed to uphold his appointment as US ambassador to Azerbaijan.
In opposing Bryza's appointment to Baku, Diaspora lobbyists took strong issue with what they claimed was his bias in Azerbaijan's favor -- a charge he hotly denied. Bryza, as a deputy advisor to the president and secretary of state on Caspian-Basin energy policy and, later, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, played a key role in pushing forward an Azerbaijan-Europe energy corridor that bypasses Russia.
To many anti-Bryza-ites, the Turcas Petrol board post will only appear confirmation that the career diplomat truly was one of Baku's best buddies.
With yesterday's ruling by France's Constitutional Council invalidating a recently passed law that would have criminalized the denial of the Armenian genocide, Ankara and Paris managed to avoid a further breakdown in their already strained relations. But while Turkey may now roll back some of the sanctions it instituted (keeping French military craft out of its airspace, for example) after the law was first passed last month and Turkish shoppers can safely go back to buying French products, this is most likely not the end of the contretemps between the two countries.
Most immediately, French President Nicolas Sarkozy -- whose party first introduced the genocide denial legislation -- has said that he will ask for an amended version of the bill to be put forward. Sarkozy's rival in the upcoming presidential elections, Socialist François Hollande, has also said that he would like to see the law resubmitted to parliament.
But the now failed law is really only a symptom of a deeper rift between Turkey and France, one that is being fueled by the two countries competing interests in the Middle East and Paris's continuing opposition to Ankara's European Union membership bid. Although written last year, an analysis of the Turkish-French rivalry by the Carnegie Foundation's Sinan Ulgen and the Open Society Institute's Heather Grabbe still rings true:
Has Armenia's National Film Center pulled off a massive cinematic coup? According to reports issued last month by some Armenian outlets, the Yerevan-based Film Center is in negotiations with director Steven Spielberg and Schindler's List screenwriter Steven Zaillian to make a film about the 1915 Armenian genocide. Per the reports, the film would premier around the time of the centennial commemoration of the genocide.
So will the director of E.T. and Jurassic Park be lending his cinematic skills in support of the Armenian cause? Not likely, it would seem. Following up on the Armenian press report, Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News checked in with Vartan Abovian, the deputy director of another organization, the Armenian National Film Academy, who said he was "baffled by the story" (although acknowledging that his group also has plans to make a movie about the events of 1915).
Despite warnings from Ankara that such a move would fundamentally undermine Turkish-French relations, France's Senate today passed a bill that would criminalize the denial of any genocide, including the 1915 mass extermination of Armenians by the Ottoman state. The law, which could lead to a punishment of a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 Euros ($57,000), was also passed about a month ago by the parliament's lower house.
Ankara had already taken action in response to the lower house's passing of the bill, recalling its ambassador to France for a time and suspending military and some economic cooperation with France. But Turkish officials have warned that a successful vote in the Senate, which now only needs to be signed by President Nicolas Sarkozy to become law, will lead to "permanent" sanctions, which will be introduced in the coming days. Although Sarkozy sent a letter a few days ago to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip that said the bill does not target a particular country and which urged Turkey to respond with moderation, it is doubtful Ankara will be in the mood for that. Writes analyst Barcin Yinanc in the Hurriyet Daily News:
Add France to the countries that Turkey now has strained relations with. Following a successful vote today in France's lower house of Parliament which made it a crime to deny that the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces in 1915 was a genocide, Ankara has recalled its ambassador in Paris and announced a set of "sanctions" against the French. The move only worsens what had been an increasingly tense French-Turkish relationship. From Reuters:
Lawmakers in France's National Assembly - the lower house of parliament - voted overwhelmingly in favour of a draft law outlawing genocide denial, which will be debated next year in the Senate.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppe, speaking to journalists after the vote, urged Turkey not to overreact to the assembly decision, called for "good sense and moderation."
But Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan angrily criticized France for passing the draft legislation, which touches on a highly controversial period in his country's history.
The bill, put forward by members of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling party, was "politics based on racism, discrimination, xenophobia," Erdogan told journalists.
He said Sarkozy, was sacrificing good ties "for the sake of political calculations," suggesting the president was tying to win the votes of ethnic Armenians in France in an election next year.
Erdogan said Turkey was cancelling all economic, political and military meetings with its NATO partner and said it would cancel permission for French military planes to land, and warships to dock, in Turkey.
Juppe said Turkey had also recalled its ambassador from France, a decision he regretted.
With the French parliament set to vote tomorrow on a bill that would allow for the punishment of anyone who denies that the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by the Ottomans was a genocide, relations between Turkey and France continue to worsen. Ankara is warning of political, economic and cultural consequences if the legislation is passed and is suggesting it contravenes European values.
Some prominent Turkish Armenians have now also entered the fray, voicing their opposition to the French move. Most prominent among them is Orhan Dink, brother of slain journalist Hrant Dink, who told a Turkish television channel he believed the French move was violated freedom of expression. Meanwhile, perhaps trying to appeal to French culinary tastes, Turkey's Armenian Patriarchate issued a statement asking France's lawmakers not to "spoil the taste of our soup of brotherhood."
As Today's Zaman columnist Orhan Kemal Cengiz reminds readers, Hrant Dink -- who had been tried in Turkey because of his insistence that the country confront its past -- opposed similar legislation when it was previously proposed in France in 2006.