Dr Harry Hagopian is an Armenian Christian who hails originally from Jordan. He is an international lawyer, with degrees in Public International Law and in Alternative Dispute Resolution.
He worked for five years as Legal Counsel at Saba & Co (Touche Ross International) in Cyprus where he headed their Intellectual Property department for the Middle Eastern and Gulf regions. He was later appointed Assistant General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches in Beirut / Cyprus, and also co-managed the humanitarian relief programmes of the Council with regard to the refugees of the earthquake in the Gillan region of Iran and later of the first Gulf war in Iraq.
Dr Hagopian also contributed to the debate on the future of the Holy Land and participated in many of the political and religious meetings in Jerusalem and abroad relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Until 2002, he worked as Executive Director of the Inter-Church Committee in Jerusalem and was deeply and proactively involved with the Oslo-led political process between Israelis and Palestinians.
He has authored a book, 'Let us Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem', and written monographs on 'Blasphemy under Islam and Common Law Principles', 'The Role of Women in Islam', 'The Armenian Genocide', 'Legal Sovereignty and Jerusalem' and 'Principles of Conflict Resolution in Nagorny-Karabagh'. His web-site remains www.epektasis.net .
Dr Hagopian is presently Consultant to OTS Solicitors, a law firm in London that also deals with Brexit issues.
First, it was the turn of the German Foreign Minister. Then came the US Secretary of State, only to be followed by the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. A fortnight later, the Turkish president flew into Kuwait, followed by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The real victims have been the Syrian people who rose up six years ago to gain their basic freedom and right to political participation. So will they be allowed to exit this dark tunnel, and are we witnessing a tipping point?
I do not share the fury that my friend demonstrated as we were enjoying our ethnic falafel wraps! However, as the author John Steinbeck wrote in <em>The Winter of Our Discontent</em>, "It is much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone." But I do not wish to go there - at least not for now!
Lebanon is a paradox! Earlier this month, I spent a week in Beirut re-acquainting myself with the local colours, tastes and cultures of this vibrantly eclectic city! And by tastes and colours I do not merely mean the souks, foods and galleries, or for that matter its politics and religions. I also mean the opinions of ordinary people.
Fifty years ago, PM David Lloyd George adopted the Balfour Declaration that helped create a festering conflict. I would argue that the existential stakes are even higher now: so will the Palestinians pick up the gauntlet?
The summer recess is upon us, and it is perhaps an opportune period for Parliament to wind down the rhetoric so the courts can adjudge on the legal pathways available. After all, the stakes are far too high for us to get it wrong since that would expose us to deep-pocket litigation let alone a real-time case of #Brexageddon!
Last week, I was invited to deliver a talk in Germany at the annual Synod of the European Diocese of the Church of England. The organisers offered me ninety generous minutes to cover the whole MENA and Gulf regions.
Five long years of protests, violence, suffering, bloodletting, proxy wars, fresh hopes marooned on jagged deceptions, untold misery, the barbarity of pseudo-religious claims, and the cheap venom of human beings pitted against each other.
Welcome to 2016 amidst much tension and consternation! As someone who has worked in the MENA region as a lawyer, an ecumenist and also a second-track political negotiator for well over two decades, let me project a few pithy thoughts onto the fresh year.
Today, some powers and principalities are trying to lure the MENA genie back into its bottle - with brutal force, lavish financial inducements or political shenanigans. But this genie is cunning: it has tasted freedom outside the bottle and sees its own world with different lenses. Its instincts cannot easily be tamed back into the bottle!
So no matter who wins on 7 May, and whatever kind of government the would-be-politicians manage to cobble together, it is a decision-making moment for me because it is healthier than in those countries where the incumbent leader "expects" no less than 95% of the votes in his favour. And woe betide anybody who dares to think or say otherwise!
06/05/2015 21:03 BST
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.