YWBC 2012

Yerevan World book Capital in 2012

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The degree of municipal, regional, national and international involvement, including professional and non-governmental organizations, and the impact of the programs: The program of events that has been compiled for Yerevan, World Book Capital 2012 will invite and include the participation of relevant professionals, civil society organizations and municipal and national government structures to ensure a successful year of celebrating everything related to books and reading. International organizations and structures in the field of publishing, printing and associations of journalists, authors and librarians will all play a pivotal role in advancing issues of copyright, freedom to publish, access to books, information and innovations.

Yerevan, World Book Capital 2012 will bring together experts and professional from the region and all over the world and will serve as an impetus to promote publishing and raise awareness that books can serve as a medium which encourages cultural, political, social and economic development.

The quantity and quality of one-time or ongoing activities organized by the applicant city in collaboration with national and international professional organizations representing writers, publishers, booksellers, and librarians and in full respect of the various players in the book supply chain and in the scientific and literary community: Realizing that the success of Yerevan, World Book Capital 2012 rests with cooperation and collaboration with all the stakeholders in the book supply chain, the organizing committee has already been actively consulting with relevant players. The diversity of the program of anticipated events, will have a lasting impact on the publishing and printing industry by bringing professionals together where they can share experiences and learn about new innovations; the events that are directed for children and young people will foster the love of reading; libraries and librarians in the country will directly benefit from the program by learning about new methods and creating partnerships; bookstores and booksellers will be able to expand their stocks by learning about new literary publications of global significance and will be able to develop partnerships. National professional associations that will play a significant role in Yerevan, World Book Capital 2012:

Armenia’s Writers Union, National Association of Publishers, Armenian Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (AOKS), “Hayheghinak” Protection of Copyright NGO, National Academy of Sciences, Journalists Union of Armenia, “Nor-Dar” Literary Union, “Girq” Foundation, The National Library of Armenia,Translators Union of Armenia, “Metaksya Simonyan” Foundation
The quantity and quality of any other noteworthy projects promoting and fostering books and reading: In order to promote and foster reading, Yerevan, World Book Capital 2012 will center its focus and energy on children and young people. Taking as its starting point that books are a treasured wealth, that they instill knowledge and are crucial to development, many of the programs will teach children not only about reading but will help them become potential writers, publishers, journalists and librarians of the future. While having a very rich cultural and literary heritage, Armenia and Armenians were subject to persecution and restriction on their freedom to write and publish works of important significance even in their recent history. The series of programs and events within the framework of Yerevan, World Book Capital 2012 will help foster the concept of freedom of thought, speech and publishing; it will celebrate the early translators who made foreign literature accessible to the masses; it will play a role in the struggle to ensure intellectual property rights while studying new technologies; through international book fairs and conferences it will provide a sustainable environment and culture for reading and underscore the eternity of the word.

The conformity with the principles of freedom of expression, freedom to publish and to distribute information, as stated in the UNESCO Constitution as well as by Articles 19 and 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by the Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials (Florence Agreement).

Today, there continues to be restrictions on fundamental human rights across the globe. Developing nations have a critical stake in the pursuit of freedom and the protection of human rights. Yerevan, Book Capital City 2012 will focus on these fundamental rights by including a broad spectrum of stakeholders, legislators, government agencies, publishers, authors and the public. The preamble of the Florence Agreement states: that the free exchange of ideas and knowledge and, in general, the widest possible dissemination of the diverse forms of self-expression used by civilizations are vitally important both for intellectual progress and international understanding, and consequently for the maintenance of world peace. It is in this spirit and for this reason that Yerevan, Book Capital City 2012 promises to be a catalyst for change in the region.

500th anniversary of Armenian Printing

“We’ve entered the land of books,” reported the invaders in surprise, after the first Arab invasion of Armenia.
From a “land of books” far away from Armenia’s cradle, in Venice in the year 1512, Hakob Meghapart, who worshipped manuscripts, printed the first Armenian book; this was altogether ten decades after Gutenberg’s invention of printing.
Typography held an important role and was a turning point in the lives of the people of Armenia: after writing was invented, the literature and writing in translation that were established independently over ten centuries were given new life—a new perspective for development arose. Knowledge was secured—indeed by its eternal presence. The book written with the letters of the Armenian alphabet became brilliant witness to the rebirth of Armenia.
The first printed books (Urbatagirq, Parzatumar, Saghmosaran) were styled like Armenian manuscripts, prompting the continuation of this tradition.
Typography began in Venice and continued on its indivertible course to Madras, then Lvov in the year 1616, Rome in 1623, Milan in 1624, Paris in 1633, Nor Julfa in 1640, Amsterdam in 1655, then Saint Petersburg, Constantinople, Tbilisi, Shushi, and Yerevan. More than three decades across the world’s cities.
From the years 1512-1920 a major part of 11,000 well-known Armenian books were printed outside of Armenia: in Venice (2243), Constantinople (5492), and in Tbilisi (3637). It was only from 1920-40 that 18,000 books were published in Armenia.
In the year 2012, the miracle of the Armenian book will be made as visible and accessible as possible. Unique presentations will provide the opportunity to look at antique Armenian books kept in the libraries and museums of foreign countries. In showing 1,106 antique Armenian books, Armenian publishing, its geography and its founding ideas will be made evident.
The year will proceed showing these Armenian books: in presentations, in world book fairs from the libraries of the US Congress, Italy’s St. Marcos library, France, Romania, Bulgaria, China, Holland, Germany, and the Russian Federation. Only in St. Petersburg’s largest library, for example, are kept 75,000 Armenian books in print, including 93 antique books from the 17-18th century: Movses Khorenatsi’s History of Armenia (1669, Amsterdam), and Alphabet Book (1623).
In a separate presentation, the arts developed out of Armenian typography will be shown: the art of decoration, and the art of engraving.
An impressive fact: in 1912 the Armenian Church, Armenian communities, and independent Armenian intellectuals, understanding well the role of typography, endeavored to celebrate the 400th anniversary of printing. Due the nonexistent condition of the state they’re efforts were doomed; it was an impossible thing to celebrate an Armenian holiday outside of the country and its cradle. A few intellectuals tried to make the celebration possible for the Armenian people, in their words, “from the free capital of France”, and from far off Saint Petersburg by All-Armenian poet Hovhannes Tumanyan.
One century later in the Republic of Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, this 2012 nationwide celebration is not only a respectable tribute to Armenian typography’s foundation and development, and a reminiscence of the talented, but also for today, it serves to ensure the sacred connection of generations, and to show the historical path tread by the book: from Gutenberg’s invention all the way to the internet.


UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

IPAInternational Publishers Association

IFLAInternational Federation of Library Association

IFESCCO – The intergovernmental Foundation for Educational and Scientific and Cultural Cooperation

Writers’ Initiative to adopt a tree with plaque in the Genocide Museum’s garden of Yerevan in 2012 (while the city is World Book Capital)


Writers of the Literary Ark have expressed their solidarity and awareness by making a request to the organization of Yerevan World Book Capital, as well as to the specific Armenian authorities concerned with the legacy and heritage of the genocide on its people committed before and during the First World War, to adopt a young tree in the garden of the Genocide Museum in Yerevan. On the plaque that goes with the tree, the name of the Literary Ark Festival 2001/2011 would be mentioned, plus the names of the countries of the writers supporting the initiative.

György Konrád, president of the Academy of the Arts in Berlin, some years ago (July 16th 2000) held a speech in the German capitol, in front of more than one hundred European writers from 43 countries, stating that Europe in his eyes is – apart from being a battered continent of shared trading zones and severe boundaries – a continent of words. Henceforth he told the anecdote of the Buddhist monk from Japan who returned to his country after a visit to Europe. ‘And, please tell us, how are they, those Europeans?’, his colleagues wanted to know. His answer was: ‘Nice people. But they talk too much…’

‘If the EU means something more than an economical flirt,’ Konrád pronounced, ‘you also have to show some willingness to look into the soul of other, fellow Europeans. By means of reading literary books e.g., written in other European countries.’ Konrád said so in a white tent placed on the Bebelplatz, in front of the Von Humboldtuniversiteit, the very place where the Nazi’s organized their public burning of books, on 10th of May 1933, of Jewish writers and other ‘entartete’ (deranged) intellectuals. It also is the place where the Israeli sculptor Misha Ullman built a book depot underground, with white empty bookshelves that are visible from the street level through a transparent plaque under which the gloomy prophecy of Heinrich Heine from 1810 is written: the burning of books will most likely also result in the burning of human beings (‘…dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.’

In the 19th century national cultures were constructed with help of the imagination of writers, scientists and historians. In the 21st century, we see each other in front of the challenge to construct – from the rumbles of two world wars and one cold war – a democratic, wealthy  and elevated Europe for more than 350 million of its citizens. Hopefully this construction will not only take place on an administrative and political level. The foundation of a European culture will be a task for the younger and coming generation: not only politicians and businessmen, but also artists, writers, moviemakers. ‘For me personally it means,’ Konrád told in Berlin, ‘that nobody can rule uniquely over Europe. Many have tried, but all of them failed. None of them could beat the strength of European individuals and their humanistic values…’

The strength and prosperity of Europe is closely intertwined with its pluralism. The bouquet blossoms when the flowers open, without the entire bundle falling apart. The binding role of the EU still happens to be so superficial, that not more than 0,1% of the budget is being spent on culture (that is twenty times as little as in the field of defence). Europe should stimulate the translation and co-finance the publication of books throughout all of the European countries. This should become something natural, because exactly books can enhance the understanding among nations and people. The  EU should make it one of its principles to also spread around the production of relevant artistic films and music from other European countries. A European literature already existed a long time before the idea of a European Coal and Steel Community came about. The mere existence of a European literary and cultural awareness fortunately are not depending on the EU, but when the reverse is going to be the case (when the EU remains ignorant of  the specific culture and literature of its member states) there will be a growing indifference between fellow citizens that will definitely harm the cohesion of the Union in the end.

But there is one thing more that is – and should definitely be – a binding force for Europe. The fundament on which our continent is built and without which our continent, its Union and aspiring (or non-aspiring) memberstates, cannot stand firm for future times to come. This force, is the evitable presence of a basic moral ground on which Europe as a spiritual and cultural entity was found. To put it clearly: Europe is not only a communion of goods, neither can it merely be a political entity of democratically proposed and bureactratically enhanced rules of law. Europe is also a community of values. Of awareness. Truthfullness. And responsability. And thus of a willingness to  be critical towards our neighbours as towards ourselves. To be supportive of each other when needed, and proud of one another when there is reason for it. One of the main trades that falls out of this community of values we as Europeans stand for, is the refusal to come to terms with the past. To deny, falsify or minimize obvious facts of history that could depict a less glorious image of ourselves than desired. Or to remain ignorant of the fatal fate of fellow Europeans who have been driven to the abyss of genocide and extermination in various epochs of war.

The writers of the Literary Ark as well as its participants from around our continent, who have signed this petition and support the initiative to adopt a young blue den in the garden of the genocide museum in Yerevan, would hereby like to show their awareness of the gross injustice and horrors that have been inflicted on the Armenian people at the beginning of the twentieth century. It is a mark of solidarity, that we in the rest of Europe have not forgotton – as Hitler rhetorically asked a German crowd of Wehrmacht soldiers back in 1942 in a speech about the complete eradication of the German enemies; be they soldiers, women, children or old folks: “who in fact still remembers the extermination of the Armenians back in 1915 and 1916?”

The process of ongoing peace, stability and wealth on the entire continent, stands or falls with the willingness for mutual political trust and cultural solidarity. Europe, and certainly the EU, is not meant to be a temporary syndicate of collaboration, but a first draft for a larger project of civil and even cosmopolitan dimensions.  Without this sincere willingness to show interest in and solidarity with our neighbours and fellow citizens, be they from nearby or afar, neither Europe nor the EU shall have a future. This is the great difference between Europe and other continents. Because Japan until today still did not recognize that its imperial regime committed gross acts of horror during World War II in Corea and China, every form of cooperation between these Asian powers remains largely superficial. The same thing should be taken into account for Turkey, if it is serious in its ambitions to become a full member of the European Union in the coming era. Ankara, as a foolish child, keeps on denying the responsibility its country has in the determined acts of extermination that caused one quarter of all Armenian people to be eradicated of the earth where they had lived for many centuries if not longer. If Turkey wants to be part of Europe, it should no longer deny the overwhelming historical evidence of the massacres that have indeed taken place under the flag of its young nation that was born so bloodily one century ago. The Armenian genocide, finally should find its place in Turkish history books in a proper and just way. And the barbaric wall between Turkey and Armenia – this hermetically sealed of fence that is an anomaly in our post-cold war era of globalization and profitable neighbourship – should  be torn down. Such that the belate Ottoman notion of Turkey as a superior country who should never be taught a lesson by any of its neighbours, can finally come to its necessary end.

The Armenian genocide – whether we like it or not – is part of our shared European history. The one and perhaps even two and a half million of Armenians who have perished in the desert have not been forgotten. Neither shall all the others who were forcefully led to mass execution by the hands of merciless young Turks and their complicit bands of armoured mercenaries who – for once and for all – were determined to resolve “the Armenian problem” within the empire’s drastically shrinking territory. This adopted tree is our humble sign of recognition to all those masses of Armenians who have perished in a cruel, unjust way, barely out of sight of our European eyes. But not of our consciousness.

This tree, that is planted in the saturated soil of our continent’s bellingerent past, is a frail but meaningfull sign of a bond of a shared and age old history and of mutual values. Just as well, the tree is a symbol of life that springs up from the compost of our past, growing upward. Transcending boundaries of gravitation and even of time. The tree of life, also a basic symbol on most of the Kachkhars – the stone crosses that mark the Armenian landscape alongside christian monasteries and graveyards – is in itself a mark of hope and illumination. The tree is part of a stelos worshipping helos: the sun. But in the very end, our tree may also be the marking sign for where we want to draw the boundaries of our values and culture, as well as of our common future.

Serge van Duijnhoven, the Netherlands.

Arlette van Laar, the Netherlands.

Filip van Zandycke, Belgium.

Patricia Maes, Belgium.

David Matevossian, Armenia.

Cora Westerink, Armenia.

Mare Sabolotny, Estonia

Vahur Afanasjev, Estonia

Leo Butnaru, Moldova-Romania

Swantje Lichtenstein, Germany

Claudio Pozzani, Italy

….(Please add)…

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