The Media Made No Effort to Find Out Who Arrived in Armenia in October

Mesrop Harutyunyan

Writer by calling

On October 22 this year an official statement was released: “Tonight, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta Fra Matthew Festing will arrive to the Republic of Armenia on a state visit. In the framework of the visit His Most Eminent Highness Fra Matthew Festing will meet with the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, and His Holiness Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II. He will also have a working dinner with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian…”

All of the media in Armenia spread this release, and in the following days were widely covering this–we should emphasize–STATE visit. Let’s not go into details of the visit, there is plenty of information about that on the presidential website and in the media.

Usually during (again let’s emphasize, STATE) visits of a similar level, the official statement also has a certificate attached about that country and its leader. This time there was a silence of this sort, and the media did not try to clarify, in the end, which head of state arrived in Armenia (I, at least, did not come across it, if anyone has already written about this, I apologize), and for Armenian readers, TV viewers, and radio leaders, the impression was left that the head of Malta arrived here on a state visit.    

I must confess, this writer also had that impression, until one day my friend, Avetik Ishkhanyan, asked in casual conversation, “Do you know who arrived in Armenia?…well, search “Sovereign Military Order of Malta,” and then, Malta.”

We did not find anything about the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in Armenian Wikipedia, but, hey, Russian provided us with incredible information.

Therefore, it is apparent that the “Sovereign Military Order of Malta”-named state entity (yes, just like that, not state), has no connection with Malta, it is just the religious chivalric vow (order) of the Roman Catholic Church, no country recognizes it as a state, just as a state entity, having an observer status in the United Nations and the Council of Europe. And that “state’s” “capital city”, or to put it more correctly, “head office” is found on Rome’s Condotti Street, house 68, this building here:

Մալթական պալատը <br>Լուսանկարը՝ <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Palazzo_Magistrale_(Rome)_1.jpg" target="_blank">Վիքիփեդիայի</a>

By the way, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta has an embassy in Armenia, as well as in more than 100 countries like us, although officially the “population,” or, more correctly, the members of the order, amounts to 13 thousand.

And the Malta we know is a state with the same name on an island, with the capital city of Valletta, with a parliament, president, and prime minister, none of whom visited Armenia during those days.

Now, why was the state media quiet about this? That is simple, essentially an ordinary visit was given the status of STATE, and it was not necessary to let people know what type of head of “state” was visiting Armenia in reality.  

Formally, the official propaganda did not spread false or incorrect information, it provided the full name of the “state,” the position of its leader and name, but then why didn’t any media try to find out what state and leader were the ones being referred to and inform the public? This is also, it seems, the consequence of the recently ingrained habit, they all publish official statements in the media without even reading them, editing them, and not to mention, creating news from them. But this is already a topic for another article.

Mesrop Harutyunyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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