Parliament Majority Blocks Changes In Controversial Tax Law

The pro-government majority in Armenia’s parliament rejected on Tuesday an opposition bill that would delay the enforcement of controversial new taxation rules which have sparked angry street protests by small traders.

The National Assembly failed to make a quorum at an extraordinary session forced by the opposition but boycotted by its deputies representing the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). The boycott meant that the assembly could not even debate amendments to an Armenian tax law that were put forward by the four main opposition parties represented in the parliament.

The law in question mandates a single turnover tax for small firms and individual entrepreneurs with annual revenues not exceeding 58 million drams ($140,000). Earlier this year the government pushed through the parliament amendments that cut the turnover tax rate from 3.5 percent to 1 percent.

Armenia Counts On Greek Support For Closer Ties With EU

Armenia hopes that Greece will help it deepen relations with the European Union, President Serzh Sarkisian said on Tuesday after talks with his visiting Greek counterpart, Karolos Papoulias, on Tuesday.

“We reaffirmed our desire to further deepen cooperation between our countries on multilateral planes, including within the framework of the Armenia-EU partnership,” he said in a statement to the press. “I voiced Armenia’s determination to develop our relations with the EU in all possible directions and expressed hope that friendly Greece will support Armenia on this issue.”

IMF Again Lowers Armenian Growth Forecast

The International Monetary Fund announced a further downward revision of its economic growth forecast for Armenia on Tuesday, singling out the fallout from Western economic sanctions against Russia.

“We have found here that growth is weaker than we expected,” said Mark Horton, the head of an IMF mission visiting Yerevan. “We thought that growth would be around 3.5 percent this year. But it looks like it will be possibly around one percentage point lower than that.”

The IMF predicted a year ago that the Armenian economy will expand by 4.8 percent in 2014. It forecast higher growth rates for the following years. The fund began revising these growth projections downwards in April amid Russia’s intensifying standoff with the West over the crisis in Ukraine.

Tsarukian’s Party Speaks Of Fresh Elections

Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) has moved closer to publicly demanding regime change in the country during its ongoing nationwide rallies staged jointly with two established opposition parties.

The BHK, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party took their anti-government campaign to Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province at the weekend, holding two rallies in the towns of Sisian and Kapan.

“You may be wondering what prompted the trio to unite, launch a process and hold rallies in the regions and in Yerevan soon now that no [regular] elections are coming up. True, no elections are coming up, but it’s possible to force [snap] elections,” Vartan Oskanian, a senior BHK figure, told hundreds of demonstrators in Kapan.

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Good2Go: New app allows users to give ‘consent’ before sex

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Nowadays, there is an app for just about everything – including consensual sex.
A new app, dubbed Good2Go, allows users to give ‘affirmative consent’ prior to sexual activity, reports the Daily Mail.
But to do so, they must tell the app a) who they are sleeping with, b) when they are doing it and c) how drunk or sober they are.
They are then advised as to whether they can consent to sex.
Lee Ann Allman created the app, which is free on iTunes and Google Play to over 18s, after speaking to her teenage children about sexual assault on American college campuses.
She told Slate Magazine that students “are very aware of what’s happening, and they’re worried about it, but they’re confused about what to do.”
She added: “They don’t know how they should be approaching somebody they’re interested in.”
Ms Allman, who also runs Sandton Technologies, hopes her technology will help facilitate necessary conversations between sexual partners and encourage them to reflect on their sobriety.
To use Good2Go, users must launch the app, before handing the phone to their potential partner.
Using a euphemism for sex, the app then asks the person: “Are we Good2Go?”, before offering them three choices: “No, thanks”, ‘Yes, but… we need to talk’, and “I’m Good2Go”.
If the individual chooses “No, thanks”, a black screen pops up reading: “Remember! No means No! Only Yes means Yes. BUT can be changed to NO at anytime!” 
Read more on the Daily Mail website.

Sales of grapes, peaches up in Armenia

October 1, 2014 Armenia No Comments
Armenian News

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The sales of peaches totaled 2,516 tons against 1,341 tons last year…

Source: TertOriginial Article

Political moves never lead to ‘a checkmate to the king’ – Garegin Chugaszyan

October 1, 2014 Armenia No Comments
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In an interview with Tert.am, Preparliament Co-Chairman Garegin Chugaszyan said he has no clear idea of what is going to happen after the three non-coalition forces’ rally. He is sure that the present-day political arena is nothing but a veneer, and the political moves never lead to “a checkmate to the king.”As regards the issues of constitutional reforms on Armenia’s political agenda, Mr Chukaszyan said.“It is not time for discussing constitutional documents now. Armenia’s major problem is overthrowing the neocolonial regime and preparing for a transition to early elections. We have to discuss it, and we have not so far heard of a clear way to that from any of the officially opposition forces.With respect of his opinion of the proposed system, Mr Chukaszyan said:“Some countries have no constitution, but their people enjoy rights. Some countries have or had excellent constitutions – for example, the Soviet Union under Stalin – but they are classic examples of societies deprived of any rights. And to keep on speaking constitutional reforms means deviating the people from the major problem, namely, restoration of the franchise.”Asked about his stance on the three non-coalition forces’ intention to hold a rally on October 10, he said:There is no clear idea of what the rally will propose to resolve the primary problem. Armenia has been faced with most serious external challenges, especially over the past year. They are deepening the domestic crisis and necessitate even more urgent changes.As to other purposes of the planned rally, Mr Chukaszyan said:“I have no clear idea of what is going to happen after the rally, which arouses certain doubts about the activities. Further steps are unclear.”In commenting on the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutyun’s (ARF-D) decision not to take part in the rally, he said:“Our present-day official political arena is a veneer, and political moves never lead to ‘a checkmate to the king’. Long or short combinations are possible, but we should speak of the end to the game, of ‘checkmating the king.’ I think that we have very little time left because the resistance is nearing the red line.“The year marking the centennial of the Armenian Genocide is the best opportunity for us, as a people, to prove – first of all to ourselves – that, while demanding justice from the international community, we are capable of establishing domestic justice, defending out rights as citizens.”Asked about the Preparliament’s relevant work, Mr Chukaszyan said:The Preparliament clearly states that the coming months will prove crucial for Armenia. We are at a stage that requires urgent solutions. Early elections require a new electoral commission, which means overthrowing the current anti-national regime. The way to this is paving the way to a transitional government, which has been proposed by the Preparliament.” 

Genocide conference in Romania held despite Turkish protests

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By Harut Sassounianwww.TheCaliforniaCourier.comI just returned home from two hectic weeks of travel. First, I participated in the Armenia-Diaspora Conference in Yerevan, where I co-chaired a panel on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, and spoke in two other panels proposing the formation of a democratically elected Diaspora-wide structure to represent the seven million Armenians residing outside of Armenia and Artsakh.I then flew to Bucharest, Romania, to join scholars, activists, journalists and clergy from a dozen countries in the first-ever international Armenian Genocide conference.The always vigilant Turkish Ambassador to Romania went to great lengths to undermine not only the Armenian Genocide conference, organized by the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Romania, but also the inauguration of a Khachkar or Cross Stone dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.Turkish Ambassador’s efforts failed miserably as the Khachkar was inaugurated as scheduled on Sept. 26, and both the Vice Mayor of Pitesht and Governor of Arjesh attended the ceremony along with other Romanian dignitaries and Genocide conference participants. In fact, when the Ambassador objected to the inauguration of the Khachkar, the Mayor of Pitesht sharply rebuked him by telling him that he has no right to interfere in the internal decisions of a Romanian city!The Turkish Ambassador next tried to block the international Armenian Genocide conference. Turkey has a major influence over Romania due to a large amount of trade between the two countries. The Ambassador must have been particularly upset by the fact that the Romanian government was funding the Genocide conference. Fortunately, the Ambassador could not disrupt the conference which was held as planned. It was attended by specialists from Armenia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Iran, Lebanon, Romania, Syria, and the United States.The only surprise was the location where the conference participants were staying. As I walked into the Tempo Hotel lobby, I noticed that there were several Turkish newspapers, including Zaman (in Romanian!), on a rack next to the front door. Upon further inspection, I discovered a brochure that described the hotel as being owned by Muslim Turkish Cleric Fethullah Gulen! Even though the hotel was conveniently located just one block from the Armenian Church headquarters in Bucharest, where the conference was being held, some of the Armenian participants felt uncomfortable staying in a Turkish hotel. We wondered how the Turkish hotel owners felt, after discovering that they housed scores of Armenian genocide specialists from around the world!Curious as to what was being discussed at the conference, the Turkish Embassy had sent two of its employees to take notes which the Turkish Ambassador must have dutifully forwarded to Ankara. Fortunately, there were no unpleasant incidents. The two Turkish diplomats kept a low profile and did not attempt to disrupt the conference. Likewise, none of the Armenian participants attempted to interfere in the work of the Turkish Embassy officials.In addition to the lecture I delivered at the conference on the subject of “Genocide Recognition or Quest for Justice,” I had the pleasant task of introducing two of my books on the Armenian Genocide in Romanian translation, which were just published by the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Romania. The first book is a collection of one hundred of my columns published in recent years in The California Courier and other newspapers. The 400-page book is titled, “One hundred columns on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.” My second book, “The Armenian Genocide, Documents and Declarations, the World Speaks Out, 1915-2015,” was also published by the Armenian Diocese in Romanian translation.Both the Diocese and the Armenian community leaders have an active publication program, having translated into Romanian many important books on the Armenian Genocide, despite the dwindling of the Armenian community due to waves of exodus to Western Europe and North America.There are two prominent Varujans in the local Armenian community. The first is Senator Varujan Vosganian, President of the Armenian Union of Romania, and Vice President of the Writers Union of Romania. He is a former Minister of Economy and Trade and author of a widely read autobiographical novel on the Armenian Genocide. The second is Varujan Pambuccian, Parliament member and President of National Minorities represented in the Romanian Parliament.Many of the scholars were in Romania for the first time. They pledged to support the local community’s efforts, particularly on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. 

Armenia’s foreign debt tops $4bn

September 30, 2014 Armenia No Comments
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The second quarter of 2014 saw Armenia’s net foreign debt jump from $24,670,000 to $4,708,340, recent findings suggest.
The records, published by the National Statistical Service, reveal that the gross foreign debt amounted to $8,489,290,000 as of late June, $96.130,000 less compared to the previous quarter.
The highest debts – 40.55% – were in the state administration sector. In the Central Bank of Armenia, deposit organizations and the private sector, they amounted to 7.24%, 26.34% and 16.99%, respectively.
As for the gross foreign assets, they decreased by $120,000,000 to $3,780,950,000 in the reporting period.

Source: TertOriginial Article

Presentation of booklet ‘Programme Budgeting Reforms in Armenia’ in Armenia’s parliament

September 30, 2014 Armenia No Comments
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On September 30 in the RA National Assembly the presentation of the booklet “Programme Budgeting Reforms in Armenia” was held initiated by the NA Standing Committee on Financial-Credit and Budgetary Affairs jointly with the Deustche Geselschaft fr Internationale Zusammenarbeit/ German International Cooperation Company (GIZ).
In the Committee Chairman’s word Gagik Minasyan, the last budgetary debates in the National Assembly have shown that there is a great interest towards the program budgeting. He has added that the booklet is a peculiar support directed to the improvement of the parliamentary oversight capacities and the rise of the society awareness in the system of the financial management.
Those responsible for the sphere have also highlighted in their speeches the publication of the booklet, noting that it is an important phase in the process of program budgeting.
It should be noted that the manual is designed for the RA NA deputies, experts of the NA Staff, deputies’ assistants, civil society interested in the budgetary process, particularly, the representatives of mass media.

Bosnia And Herzegovina: Journalists Publish Politicians’ Property Database

September 30, 2014 Armenia No Comments
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21:27, September 30, 2014

A new database assembled by investigative reporters details the property holdings of many politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina, noting a steady increase in holdings and bank accounts, even for those who acquired many properties.

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN), a Sarajevo-based news agency, has investigated the holdings of 160 politicians for the past nine months. A database containing all of their findings on the wages, movable and immovable property, biographies and other assets has been published.

Access to the politicians’ information became more difficult after the Central Election Commission withdrew data on politicians’ assets from its web page in 2012 in the wake of a Court of BiH’s ruling protecting personal data.

China: Senior Official Sacked On Graft Charge

September 30, 2014 Armenia, Technology No Comments
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21:41, September 30, 2014

A Chinese official has been fired from his position as an internet regulator and expelled from the Communist Party on graft charges.

Gao Jianyun, who held a senior position in the International Communication and Information Office’s special taskforce for internet security and technology, became a target of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) in March, reports the South China Morning Post.

The CCDI alleges that Gao was using his position to seek huge bribes, reports The Economic Times. The CCDI’s statement added that Gao was supporting a mistress and child while  conspiring with a second suspect to obstruct the investigation, reports the Post.

Europe: More Than 1,000 Organized Crime Suspects Arrested In Multinational Operation

September 30, 2014 Armenia, Australia, Europe No Comments
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21:46, September 30, 2014

Law enforcement agencies have arrested 1,146 suspects in what they claim is Europe’s largest-ever international coordinated operation against organized crime, codenamed “Operation Archimedes.”

Officers from the 28 European Union (EU) member states as well as Norway, Switzerland, Serbia, Colombia, Australia and the US participated in the operation, which took place over nine days from Sept. 15 to 23. It was coordinated by Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, with the help of Eurojust, the EU’s judicial cooperation agency; Frontex, the EU’s external border agency; and Interpol.

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Book Reviews

John Balian’s “Novel Approach” Brings the Armenian Saga to the Masses – An interview with John Balian by Lucine Kasbarian

Gray Wolves and White Doves cover art

Armenians often wish for a tale about the Armenian Genocide and its aftermath that would make a blockbuster film and draw attention to their cause. John Balian’s new book, Gray Wolves and White Doves (CreateSpace/Amazon.com), may be that tale.

 Largely autobiographical, this atmospheric novel is presented through the eyes of an innocent young boy trying to make sense of the world as he grows up amid repressive conditions in Western Armenia/Eastern Turkey during the 1960s and 70s.

 This fast-paced, multi-layered narrative takes readers from Hanna Ibelin’s (a.k.a. Jonah Ibelinian’s) close-knit family life in the perilous Asia Minor region of Palu to terror and tragedy while en route to Syria’s Kamishli, to a bleak existence on the mean streets of Istanbul.

New Children’s Picture Book From Armenian Folklore

Teaneck, N.J. and Belmont, Mass. –  An Armenian folktale retold by Armenian-American writer Lucine Kasbarian and illustrated by Moscow-based artist Maria Zaikina debuts with Marshall Cavendish Children’s Publishers in April 2011.

The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale is from the ancient Armenian oral tradition and culture, which was nearly obliterated during the Turkish genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks in 1915. The author learned the tale from her father, editor and columnist C.K. Garabed, who would recite it to her at bedtime. He had learned it from his own grandmother, a celebrated storyteller from the Old Country.  The tale was first put to paper by Armenian poet Hovhannes Toumanian at the turn of the 20th century.

“We Need To Lift The Armenian Taboo”

Turkish writer and publicist Ahmet Insel labels the initiative of the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party to pray namaz on the ruins of Ani as provocation.

In an interview with “A1+,” the publicist said the initiative was supported only by a small percentage of Turks.

“They offered namaz in Ani in protest against Christian rites carried out in Trabzon and Akhtamar. The leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, Devlet Bahceli said if Christians are allowed to pray inside museums, similarly he can pray namaz in Armenian churches,” said Ahmet Insel.

The Turkish writer arrived in Armenia to participate in a book festival. Presentation of Armenian version of Dialogue sur le tabou arménien (Dialogue about the Armenian Tabou) co-authored by Ahmet Insel and Michel Marian was held during the festival.

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA –  KFI 640, a popular news/talk radio station hosted by Bill Handel on September 23 aired a live interview with Michael Bobelian, the writer of a new book titled  Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-long Struggle for Justice

The book chronicles the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and recounts a people’s struggle for justice in the face of a century of silence and denial.

During the interview, which was aired during the prime morning time slot, Bill Handel addressed both the efforts within the United States to ensure that the US government appropriately acknowledges the Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s ongoing denial.

Handel, a well known and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, has discussed the Armenian Genocide during past shows.

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Commentary

China: President Takes Action Against High Ranking Corrupt Officials

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21:31, July 30, 2014

Zhou Yongkang, one of China’s most powerful former leaders, is under investigation in the highest-level corruption inquiry since the Communist Party came into power in 1949.

Under current president Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is investigating Zhou for “serious disciplinary violations,” as the officialXinhua news agency reports. Media has not yet, however, specified the allegations against him.

The probe is an attempt to show the length to which Xi and the party will go in order to combat abuse of power reportsThe Wall Street Journal. 

A commentary published in the officialPeoples Daily makes the point that regardless of  an official’s rank or supporters, punishment will result for violating laws or the party’s discipline. 

Armenian Gangs: Caught between an Archetype and a Cliché

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19:15, July 12, 2014

By Marineh Khachadour

“The whole thing started with a scene straight out of a mobster movie. It was around 6 p.m. when more than a dozen men from two organized crime groups opened fire on each other in a North Hollywood parking lot. Witnesses say nearly everyone was armed, and the shootout quickly went mobile. The men took off in cars, exchanging fire as they weaved through the Whitsett Avenue traffic.”

Stories such as this are not unique to Armenians in the American press, but this investigative report recently published in the LA Weekly is about Armenian Power, the Los Angeles based Armenian gang that operates in the heavily Armenian populated communities of Glendale, Burbank, and North Hollywood.

Want to Write for Hetq?

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10:24, March 14, 2014

I’m looking for freelancers who can broaden the scope of Hetq’s English edition

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Politics, Civil Society, Interviews…

Anything interesting happening in your local community you’d like to share?

Write to me with your ideas and story suggestions.

Hrant at hg.hetq@gmail.com

Source: HetqOriginial Article

For Better or For Worse: Nature Protection Ministry Proposes Amendments to Water Use Laws

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16:44, February 14, 2014

With the goal of providing a systematic solution to issues of effective use of water resources in Ararat valley, the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia (RA) is proposing amendments and additions to the RA Water Code, and the RA laws on the Republic of Armenia’s National Water Program, on Licensing, and on State Tax.

The proposed legislative package has been sent to the relevant state agencies for their input.

Head of the Ministry of Nature Protection’s Water Resources Management Agency Volodya Narimanyan told Hetq, said that with this amendment package his ministry is attempting to clarify the ideas and the ambiguous commentary, as well as introduce new requirements. For example, one of the main points of the proposed amendments is if water use permit conditions are not met, the water use permit might be annulled.

2013 in Civil Society: Protests and more protests

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The struggle of civil movements this year has been comprehensive and diverse with limited success in certain fields due to unified efforts and active involvement of the civil society.

Despite the rather passive start of the year in terms of civil movements, the second half of 2013 turned out to be tense with active developments.

Some analysts believe that especially after the February 18 presidential ballot, when current president Serzh Sargsyan won a decisive victory over his opponents and was re-elected for a second term, despite the widespread poverty and atmosphere of injustice in the country, people became even more aware of the fact that is it impossible to achieve changes via elections and started practicing their constitutional rights to civil protest and disobedience more frequently.