Diaspora Tycoon Slams Armenian ‘Monopolies’

A prominent Armenian-American businessman sounded alarm bells on Monday over what he sees as a lack of competition in Armenia, saying that it could spell serious trouble for the country’s economy.

Vahak Hovnanian singled out the monopolization of lucrative imports of goods by “a handful of people” close to the government. He declined to name any of them, though.

“That could have deadly consequences for the economy,” Hovnanian warned in an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I maybe going to extremes but I want people to take note.”

“The monopolies must be broken up,” he said. “Competition is what drives countries forward. There is no competition here. We can’t move forward in this way.”

Georgia Thanks Armenia For Urgent Energy Supply

Georgia thanked Armenia on Monday for helping to restore electricity supplies in the country that were disrupted the previous night by reported accidents in the Georgian power distribution network.

Most of Georgia, including the capital Tbilisi, were left without electricity for more than two hours late on Sunday. Georgian officials attributed the outage to disruptions of several high-voltage power transmission lines. The precise cause of the emergency was not immediately clear.

Power supply in the country was restored after the Georgian government reportedly asked neighboring Armenia and Turkey for emergency electricity imports. Yerevan appears to have swiftly reacted to the request.

Mediators’ Peace Plan ‘Unacceptable’ To Karabakh Armenians

A key member of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian-backed leadership has publicly spoken out against an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace formula that has been advanced by the United States, Russia and France for almost a decade.

Ara Harutiunian, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), said the Basic Principles of resolving the Karabakh conflict, also known as Madrid Principles, are unacceptable because they call for significant Armenian territorial concessions to Azerbaijan.

The draft framework peace accord was first formally put forward to the conflicting parties in Madrid in 2006. U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group have repeatedly modified the document since then. Its key elements, repeatedly articulated by the three mediating powers, are believed to have remained unchanged.

Activist Warned Over Public ‘Terror Threat’

A civil activist campaigning against the rise in utility prices has been summoned to Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) after publicly threatening to carry out an act of terrorism.

Vaghinak Shushanian, one of the citizens who participated in street protests against the decision to raise electricity tariffs by 10 percent, attended the July 1 meeting of the Public Services Regulatory Commission as a delegate of the protesters.

At the meeting he stated that he would not pay for electricity at a higher rate. “I am a student and I have a disabled mother and sister in my care… I won’t pay. If I have to, I will commit an act of terrorism, let everyone hear this,” he said, reacting angrily to the regulatory body’s decision.

Latest Armenian News:

Young people meet in Tsakhkadzor under ‘Pastark’ program

July 29, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora No Comments
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About 30 young people took part in the ‘Pastark’ (Argument) gathering in Tsakhkadzor.
The Pastark foreign policy program is being implemented by the youth wing of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA).
Young people ask different experts for their arguments for the country and Armenians and try to create a large database with free access.
The young people had a meeting with MP Karen Avagyan, discussed media and PR issues. Each participant made a talk on a foreign policy topic.
Mr Avagyan said that any reasonable proposal by the young people will be implemented.
On the last day, the participants in the meeting summed up the program and discussed the agenda of the events scheduled for the end of August.

Lloyds fined £218m over Libor rigging scandal

July 29, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora No Comments
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Lloyds Banking Group has been fined 218m for “serious misconduct” over some key interest rates set in London, the BBC reports.
The fines were issued by the UK-based Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and a US-based trading commission.
Lloyds manipulated the London interbank offered rate (Libor) for yen and sterling and attempted to manipulate the rate for yen, sterling and the US dollar, said the US legal order.
Lloyds said it “condemns the actions of the individuals responsible”.
The FCA fined Lloyds 105m. It said the fine was the “joint third-highest ever imposed” by the organization or its predecessor, the Financial Services Authority.
In the US, the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission fined the group, which is responsible for Lloyds Bank and the Bank of Scotland, $105m (61.7m).
The agreement is the seventh joint penalty handed out by US and UK regulators in connection with Libor and other benchmarks, used to price around $450trn of financial products around the world.
Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland have previously paid $453m and $612m in fines related to the scandal.

Former Georgian President Saakashvili Charged with Violent Dispersal of 2007 Protests

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21:38, July 28, 2014

The Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia reports that it has filed criminal charges against the former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili.

The criminal case pertains to the violent dispersal of anti-governmental mass protests on November 7, 2007, raiding the TV Company IMEDI by a riot police, and the illegal take-over of the property of Arkadi Patarkatsishvili.

Charges were also filed against Ivane Merabishvili, the former minister of the interior, Zurab Adeishvili, the former prosecutor general, Davit Kezerashvili, the former minister of defense and Giorgi Ugulava, the former mayor of Tbilisi.

TV IMEDI Ltd. has been intensively broadcasting internal developments of Georgia of a highly sensitive nature, thus raising public concerns.

Excise taxes on drugs may cause surge in market, says importers’ union chief

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Tert.am has talked to Samvel Zakaryan, the president of Medicine Producers and Importers’ Union, over the impact of a government decision to impose excise taxes on the purchase of drugs.
Do you think the government measures in the pharmaceutical industry are justified given that this is a priority sector?
They are justified; we would simply expect more active measures. In terms of the strategy timing, our sector is the best. and it is one of the first in terms of the activities accomplished. We are very actively working with the Ministry of Economy and the Industrial Development Foundation. The result was that the pharmaceutical sector had the highest records, with 29.8 percent production growth and 25.8 percent export growth.
Do you observe changes in the new government or do they pursue the predecessors’ [policies]?
No, it is an absolutely different work style. What particularly surprised us was that the reforms are implemented without any discussions with us, with our opinion remaining overlooked. For instance, the document on approving simultaneous import procedures was put forward to the private sector all of a sudden.
What will you say about the new reforms that call for imposing excise taxes on medicines?
That’s the other problem we face; the [amended] law “On Trade and Services” envisages excise taxes also for medicines, apart from soap, make-up products and other items. That’s a non-professional approach, because drugs, as a specific form of product, should [be imported] based on specific procedures. As a result, drugs too appeared on that list on grounds of combating the shadow economy. Over one million drug packages, with different sizes and quality, are imported to Armenia, so it is important to excise all that, as we deal with considerable expenses. If the package includes 60 pills while the patient wishes five, for example, that would violate the excising procedures. Our patients will not buy all 60; they will take 5 [pills] and throw away all the rest. The excise tax costs may cause a surge in the prices of medicines.
It is argued to be a method of combating the shadow.
The excision will offer no benefits at all; it doesn’t make any sense in the case of medicines. There are special surveillance procedures for pharmaceutical products, as it is, with every single vial being registered during the import. So shadow activities are practically ruled out. If drugs used to be smuggled from Georgia, then it is necessary to take action against that; official importers cannot carry out a shadow import. Excise offers wide opportunities to smugglers; they may tear the label from a drug sold for 10 Drams and stick it to a 10,000 Drams worth drug imported without registration. Official importers work in a coordinated manner, so they cannot act in the shadow. It is necessary to fight smugglers instead of dismantling the accomplished market through experiments. There are no procedures of the kind in European countries.

Lack of School and Kindergarten Town’s Main Problems, Says Mayor While Buying Loudspeakers for Town Festivities

July 28, 2014 Armenia, Culture, Sports No Comments
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13:45, July 28, 2014

The two main problems of the town of Burastan in Ararat Province, according to the mayor, are the lack of a school and a kindergarten. However, these issues not yet resolved, the mayor, AshotTarverdyan, has decided to promote the development of culture and sports. Tarverdyan already spoke with a few athletes to hold classes on Olympic sports in their town.

Though the town’s four-year development program includes constructing a new school, the mayor isn’t too hopeful. Besides, he says, children go to the school in neighboring Masis, which is fine for them.

Gaza in critical condition, says UN’s Ban Ki-Moon

July 28, 2014 Diaspora No Comments
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Gaza is in a “critical condition” and violence there must stop “in the name of humanity”, the BBC reports quoting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as saying.
Mr Ban was speaking at UN HQ in New York after returning from a visit to the region.
Israel launched an offensive against Palestinian Hamas militants in the small coastal territory three weeks ago after a surge in rocket fire.Mr Ban was critical of both sides in his comments.
He said Hamas had fired missiles into civilian areas of Israel, while Israeli forces had used high-explosive weapons in the crowded Gaza Strip.
The people of Gaza had nowhere to run to, he added, emphasizing that participants in conflicts had a responsibility to protect civilians.
He reiterated the UN’s call for an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan.

Diaspora Tycoon Slams Armenian ‘Monopolies’

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A prominent Armenian-American businessman sounded alarm bells on Monday over what he sees as a lack of competition in Armenia, saying that it could spell serious trouble for the country’s economy.

Vahak Hovnanian singled out the monopolization of lucrative imports of goods by “a handful of people” close to the government. He declined to name any of them, though.

“That could have deadly consequences for the economy,” Hovnanian warned in an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I maybe going to extremes but I want people to take note.”

“The monopolies must be broken up,” he said. “Competition is what drives countries forward. There is no competition here. We can’t move forward in this way.”

Georgia Thanks Armenia For Urgent Energy Supply

Thumbnail

Georgia thanked Armenia on Monday for helping to restore electricity supplies in the country that were disrupted the previous night by reported accidents in the Georgian power distribution network.

Most of Georgia, including the capital Tbilisi, were left without electricity for more than two hours late on Sunday. Georgian officials attributed the outage to disruptions of several high-voltage power transmission lines. The precise cause of the emergency was not immediately clear.

Power supply in the country was restored after the Georgian government reportedly asked neighboring Armenia and Turkey for emergency electricity imports. Yerevan appears to have swiftly reacted to the request.

Mediators’ Peace Plan ‘Unacceptable’ To Karabakh Armenians

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A key member of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian-backed leadership has publicly spoken out against an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace formula that has been advanced by the United States, Russia and France for almost a decade.

Ara Harutiunian, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), said the Basic Principles of resolving the Karabakh conflict, also known as Madrid Principles, are unacceptable because they call for significant Armenian territorial concessions to Azerbaijan.

The draft framework peace accord was first formally put forward to the conflicting parties in Madrid in 2006. U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group have repeatedly modified the document since then. Its key elements, repeatedly articulated by the three mediating powers, are believed to have remained unchanged.

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Featured Books

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

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.

Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments

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2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.