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FLArmenians Participate in ANCA-ER 6th Annual Banquet

Mahwah, NJ – Earlier this month, Florida Armenians (FLArmenians) Editor Taniel Koushakjian joined over 300 Armenian-Americans for the Armenian National Committee Eastern Region’s (ANCA-ER) 6th annual banquet. Mrs. Nora Kzirian, a former FLArmenian, served as the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies, as the community honored Armenian studies luminary Dr. Richard Hovannisian, and Artsakh rights champion her ladyship Baroness Caroline Cox.

Dr. Hovannisian and Taniel Koushakjian

Dr. Hovannisian and Taniel Koushakjian

National Association of Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Director of Academic Affairs Dr. Marc Mamigonian gave a moving introduction about Professor Richard Hovannisian, this year’s ANCA Vahan Cardashian Award recipient.

Dr. Hovannisian, a professor of Armenian and Near Eastern Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), is a pioneer of Armenian studies in the United States. He has authored many books and edited and contributed to at least a dozen other works. In 1987, he was appointed the first holder of the Armenian Educational Foundation Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History at UCLA.

“I’m deeply honored and thankful to the ANCA for considering me worthy of receiving this award. Vahan Cardashian remains a champion and a symbol for the Armenian people. I feel very satisfied after my long career, and I feel rewarded that I’ve had more than a half century of wonderful experiences in the classroom teaching generations regarding Armenian history and identity,” Hovannisian said.

Ms. Virginia Davies, who sponsored FLArmenians’ participation, introduced Baroness Caroline Cox before presenting her with the ANCA Freedom Award.

Baroness Caroline Cox and Taniel Koushakjian

Baroness Caroline Cox and Taniel Koushakjian

“Speaking in the British parliament is a place to give voice to the voiceless, to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. … I would like to say thank you to the Armenian people, who in that holy land of Artsakh have formed that front line of faith and freedom for the rest of the world. We who live in freedom, we who call ourselves Christian, owe you a debt of gratitude for holding that front line for us. With all my heart, I thank you,” the Baroness said.

Baroness Cox has visited Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh 78 times to date, many of them during the war with Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, and is planning on at least two more visits in 2013. Working with the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), she helped establish the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre in Stepanakert in 1998, which has become a leader in providing care and rehabilitation for those with physical or mental disabilities.

Among the dignitaries in attendance were Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America; Very Rev. Fr. Thomas Garabedian of the Armenian Catholic Exarchate of America; His Excellency Ambassador Garen Nazarian, Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations; Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Co-Chair of the Armenian Caucus; Executive Director of the Armenian Missionary Association of America, Mr. Levon Filian; Armenia Fund USA Chairman, Mr. Khoren Bandazian; and many prominent community benefactors.

Moral Considerations in the Art-Restitution Lawsuit Between the Armenian Church and the Getty Museum

Moral Considerations in the Art-Restitution Lawsuit Between the Armenian Church and the Getty Museum

By Michael Toumayan
FLArmenians Guest Contributor

On Nov. 4, a Los Angeles Times article, written by Mike Boehm, reported that in an effort to get back the Canon Tables of the 13th-century Zeyt’un Gospels from the Getty Museum, the Armenian Diaspora has inaudibly put its weight behind the Armenian Orthodox Church’s quest to repatriate the allegedly stolen illuminated manuscripts back to Armenia, where the rest is housed at the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts.

In 1915, as Armenians were subjected to a genocidal campaign by the Ottoman Empire, the intact codex changed hands for safekeeping. The eight pages that were torn from the larger codex during the Armenian Genocide ultimately resurfaced with an Armenian American immigrant family in Massachusetts, which sold them to the Getty in 1994.

The Getty Museum

Church attorneys were initially asked by the Getty to come up with solutions, and no less than 16 were put forth, only to be rejected by the Getty. Clearly the content of a proposal for a solution is a critical component to any successful resolution of conflict, but equally necessary is the timing of the efforts. Resolution can only be achieved if the parties are sincere in negotiating.

One wonders whether the Getty was ready and sincere when it asked church attorneys to come up with solutions. However, for the sake of being aware of our cognitive biases, we should also question whether both parties were engaging in positional bargaining, a negotiation strategy that involves holding on to a position, rather than interest-based bargaining in which parties collaborate to find a “win-win” solution to their dispute.

Nevertheless, on Nov. 3, 2011 a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied the museum’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim that the Canon Tables are “wrongfully in the possession, custody and control” of the J. Paul Getty Trust, in the Getty Museum. Instead, the judge ordered the parties to four months of mediation, scheduling a March 2 resumption if the case isn’t settled. Citing that it was “not clear” whether the case would fall within statute-of-limitations law, perhaps the judge’s ruling may create the necessary conditions for the dispute to be ripe, and both will perceive that there is a suitable way out.

With a murky history and 90 years later, one cannot rule out the Getty’s possible legal possession and title to the disputed manuscripts. Simultaneously, the Getty’s concern in the preservation of world artistic heritage should not confine itself to considering just the legal entitlement. In mediation, where context is pivotal, there is an ethical obligation that rests on the mu­seum taking into account the moral strength of the church’s case based on the circum­stances during times of turmoil. Now is the time for the museum to exhibit consistency with its own core ethical values while also demonstrating sensitivity to the sacred values of the Armenian nation in its quest for restorative justice.

For the mediation to be successful, both must enter into it willingly and away from a zero-sum mindset, through a cooperative approach. The potential benefits of mediation will outweigh the steep cost of litigation, but more importantly, the long-term outcome will be a healed and expanded relationship between the two. This may open the path for a joint restoration project where both can take part in repairing the lost gleam of the larger Zeyt’un Gospels and have them showcased with other extraordinary works of Armenian art from the vaults of the church.

Michael Toumayan is an independnt political commentator on the Caucasus and Middle East affairs. He holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution and mediation from Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel. He resides in Delray Beach, Florida. 

SOURCE: http://www.armenianweekly.com/2011/11/29/moral-considerations/