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Respect the Film-Goers: Let’s Improve Next Year’s Golden Apricot Film Festival

July 16, 2012 Armenia, Film, Technology No Comments
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00:40, July 16, 2012

The 9th annual Golden Apricot Film Festival in Yerevan came to a close yesterday amidst the pomp and circumstance that such events seem to automatically spawn.

While I wasn’t at the closing ceremony, I can just picture the throngs of average citizens milling about, alongside the ranks of the nation’s cultural elite, trying to push their way into the Moscow Cinema.

Red carpets, boisterous bouts of applause, and the speeches of praise and thanks for yet another job well done…

I sure the organizers of the festival are pleased with the show they put on. But before the organizing committee gets to work on next’s year’s festival, I would like to ask them – Just who is the festival for? 

If the answer is the rank and film aficionado, the spectator,  then the committee would be advised to take the views of the festival goers into consideration and to show them just a bit of respect.

I saw four films at the festival this year in French, English and Italian.

Not one was properly translated. Here, I’m not referring to the technical glitches associated with the subtitles. That’s the least of the problem even though they could be avoided by hiring a competent text editor.

What really irritated me was to see translations that had no connection at all to the original language script. This is directly disrespecting the audience. It’s akin to saying – Hey, the audience doesn’t know any better so why go to the trouble of presenting an accurate translation.

The July 10 screening Alexander Sokurov’s “The Sun” was a disaster. You’d think the voice of the young girl doing the translating was reading from a Google translate page. Most in the audience left out of disgust. The rest stayed in their seats, interested to see how far the translator’s imagination would reach.

At one point in the film, the simple original words “The Americans have arrived” were translated as “You must leave America”.

Translation flubs also graced “Paradise: Love” and “Death in Venice”. Even Michael Haneke’s “Love”, the festival’s closing film was improperly translated.

Such faults were pardonable in the early days of the festival when financing was tight and the organizers were a group of enthusiastic film buffs with little experience in putting on such an event. But this was the 9th festival which is sponsored by the Armenian government and companies like VivaCell. It’s high time to expect some professionalism and accountability.

Those film lovers who came to Moscow Cinema on July 14, the last day of the festival, left feeling abused and cheated.

I and scores like me rushed to the Moscow Cinema to see Michael Haneke’s “Love” at 6pm. We had all purchased tickets earlier in the week since we knew they’d sell out quickly.

When we got to the doors of the Blue Auditorium, we were met by Golden Apricot staffers announcing that the 6pm showing was reserved for festival guests and those with invitations. The rest of us peons who actually purchased tickets would have to wait till 8:30pm to see the film.

We all felt like second-class citizens – angry and dejected. Some had left elderly parents at home, others had travelled from outside of Yerevan to make it…I had to postpone another important meeting in order not to miss the closing film.

Why didn’t the festival organizers, with 32 media outlets at their beck and call, announce the time change IN TIME?

I mean the organizers themselves stated that the change was decided a whole three days before the July 14 screening. Couldn’t chief sponsor VivaCell, with its 21st century technology, have sent out messages about the screening change?

But it seems that the Golden Apricot organizers are still thinking along medieval lines. The best they could do was to affix a time advisory on the inside of the entrance door to Moscow Cinema. Did the organizers ever stop to think that ticket holders just might not accidentally “stop by” the cinema and read the advisory? Of course not.

Where did these people acquire their public relations savvy? And then they have the gall to say, “We apologize for any inconvenience….” You know what you can do with your apologies…

I’m not writing all this spurred on by an inner rage to criticize the festival. Heavens no…I want to see the shortcomings fixed in the name of the festival’s international image and in improving its reception here at home by myself and other film lovers.

Here’s looking forward to an improved and well-organized 10th film festival next year.

Signed by a loyal Golden Apricot film-goer.

P.S. A brief note to cinema operators, especially those who run Nayiri Theater…Please, during these blistering summer days, don’t scrimp on the air conditioning inside. It makes for a very uncomfortable viewing experience.

Photo: Lusine Sargsyan

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Competing for the “Pit”: Armenia’s Golden Apricot film festival gets new section
  2. Golden Apricot 7th Yerevan International Film Festival underway
  3. Golden Apricot: Festival in ninth year includes special award from Church
  4. Golden Apricot: Festival in ninth year includes special award from Church
  5. Golden Apricot: Yerevan hosting ninth edition of int’l film festival

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Gray Wolves and White Doves cover art

00:40, July 16, 2012

The 9th annual Golden Apricot Film Festival in Yerevan came to a close yesterday amidst the pomp and circumstance that such events seem to automatically spawn.

While I wasn’t at the closing ceremony, I can just picture the throngs of average citizens milling about, alongside the ranks of the nation’s cultural elite, trying to push their way into the Moscow Cinema.

Red carpets, boisterous bouts of applause, and the speeches of praise and thanks for yet another job well done…

I sure the organizers of the festival are pleased with the show they put on. But before the organizing committee gets to work on next’s year’s festival, I would like to ask them – Just who is the festival for? 

If the answer is the rank and film aficionado, the spectator,  then the committee would be advised to take the views of the festival goers into consideration and to show them just a bit of respect.

I saw four films at the festival this year in French, English and Italian.

Not one was properly translated. Here, I’m not referring to the technical glitches associated with the subtitles. That’s the least of the problem even though they could be avoided by hiring a competent text editor.

What really irritated me was to see translations that had no connection at all to the original language script. This is directly disrespecting the audience. It’s akin to saying – Hey, the audience doesn’t know any better so why go to the trouble of presenting an accurate translation.

The July 10 screening Alexander Sokurov’s “The Sun” was a disaster. You’d think the voice of the young girl doing the translating was reading from a Google translate page. Most in the audience left out of disgust. The rest stayed in their seats, interested to see how far the translator’s imagination would reach.

At one point in the film, the simple original words “The Americans have arrived” were translated as “You must leave America”.

Translation flubs also graced “Paradise: Love” and “Death in Venice”. Even Michael Haneke’s “Love”, the festival’s closing film was improperly translated.

Such faults were pardonable in the early days of the festival when financing was tight and the organizers were a group of enthusiastic film buffs with little experience in putting on such an event. But this was the 9th festival which is sponsored by the Armenian government and companies like VivaCell. It’s high time to expect some professionalism and accountability.

Those film lovers who came to Moscow Cinema on July 14, the last day of the festival, left feeling abused and cheated.

I and scores like me rushed to the Moscow Cinema to see Michael Haneke’s “Love” at 6pm. We had all purchased tickets earlier in the week since we knew they’d sell out quickly.

When we got to the doors of the Blue Auditorium, we were met by Golden Apricot staffers announcing that the 6pm showing was reserved for festival guests and those with invitations. The rest of us peons who actually purchased tickets would have to wait till 8:30pm to see the film.

We all felt like second-class citizens – angry and dejected. Some had left elderly parents at home, others had travelled from outside of Yerevan to make it…I had to postpone another important meeting in order not to miss the closing film.

Why didn’t the festival organizers, with 32 media outlets at their beck and call, announce the time change IN TIME?

I mean the organizers themselves stated that the change was decided a whole three days before the July 14 screening. Couldn’t chief sponsor VivaCell, with its 21st century technology, have sent out messages about the screening change?

But it seems that the Golden Apricot organizers are still thinking along medieval lines. The best they could do was to affix a time advisory on the inside of the entrance door to Moscow Cinema. Did the organizers ever stop to think that ticket holders just might not accidentally “stop by” the cinema and read the advisory? Of course not.

Where did these people acquire their public relations savvy? And then they have the gall to say, “We apologize for any inconvenience….” You know what you can do with your apologies…

I’m not writing all this spurred on by an inner rage to criticize the festival. Heavens no…I want to see the shortcomings fixed in the name of the festival’s international image and in improving its reception here at home by myself and other film lovers.

Here’s looking forward to an improved and well-organized 10th film festival next year.

Signed by a loyal Golden Apricot film-goer.

P.S. A brief note to cinema operators, especially those who run Nayiri Theater…Please, during these blistering summer days, don’t scrimp on the air conditioning inside. It makes for a very uncomfortable viewing experience.

Photo: Lusine Sargsyan

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Competing for the “Pit”: Armenia’s Golden Apricot film festival gets new section
  2. Golden Apricot 7th Yerevan International Film Festival underway
  3. Golden Apricot: Festival in ninth year includes special award from Church
  4. Golden Apricot: Festival in ninth year includes special award from Church
  5. Golden Apricot: Yerevan hosting ninth edition of int’l film festival

New Children’s Picture Book From Armenian Folklore

00:40, July 16, 2012

The 9th annual Golden Apricot Film Festival in Yerevan came to a close yesterday amidst the pomp and circumstance that such events seem to automatically spawn.

While I wasn’t at the closing ceremony, I can just picture the throngs of average citizens milling about, alongside the ranks of the nation’s cultural elite, trying to push their way into the Moscow Cinema.

Red carpets, boisterous bouts of applause, and the speeches of praise and thanks for yet another job well done…

I sure the organizers of the festival are pleased with the show they put on. But before the organizing committee gets to work on next’s year’s festival, I would like to ask them – Just who is the festival for? 

If the answer is the rank and film aficionado, the spectator,  then the committee would be advised to take the views of the festival goers into consideration and to show them just a bit of respect.

I saw four films at the festival this year in French, English and Italian.

Not one was properly translated. Here, I’m not referring to the technical glitches associated with the subtitles. That’s the least of the problem even though they could be avoided by hiring a competent text editor.

What really irritated me was to see translations that had no connection at all to the original language script. This is directly disrespecting the audience. It’s akin to saying – Hey, the audience doesn’t know any better so why go to the trouble of presenting an accurate translation.

The July 10 screening Alexander Sokurov’s “The Sun” was a disaster. You’d think the voice of the young girl doing the translating was reading from a Google translate page. Most in the audience left out of disgust. The rest stayed in their seats, interested to see how far the translator’s imagination would reach.

At one point in the film, the simple original words “The Americans have arrived” were translated as “You must leave America”.

Translation flubs also graced “Paradise: Love” and “Death in Venice”. Even Michael Haneke’s “Love”, the festival’s closing film was improperly translated.

Such faults were pardonable in the early days of the festival when financing was tight and the organizers were a group of enthusiastic film buffs with little experience in putting on such an event. But this was the 9th festival which is sponsored by the Armenian government and companies like VivaCell. It’s high time to expect some professionalism and accountability.

Those film lovers who came to Moscow Cinema on July 14, the last day of the festival, left feeling abused and cheated.

I and scores like me rushed to the Moscow Cinema to see Michael Haneke’s “Love” at 6pm. We had all purchased tickets earlier in the week since we knew they’d sell out quickly.

When we got to the doors of the Blue Auditorium, we were met by Golden Apricot staffers announcing that the 6pm showing was reserved for festival guests and those with invitations. The rest of us peons who actually purchased tickets would have to wait till 8:30pm to see the film.

We all felt like second-class citizens – angry and dejected. Some had left elderly parents at home, others had travelled from outside of Yerevan to make it…I had to postpone another important meeting in order not to miss the closing film.

Why didn’t the festival organizers, with 32 media outlets at their beck and call, announce the time change IN TIME?

I mean the organizers themselves stated that the change was decided a whole three days before the July 14 screening. Couldn’t chief sponsor VivaCell, with its 21st century technology, have sent out messages about the screening change?

But it seems that the Golden Apricot organizers are still thinking along medieval lines. The best they could do was to affix a time advisory on the inside of the entrance door to Moscow Cinema. Did the organizers ever stop to think that ticket holders just might not accidentally “stop by” the cinema and read the advisory? Of course not.

Where did these people acquire their public relations savvy? And then they have the gall to say, “We apologize for any inconvenience….” You know what you can do with your apologies…

I’m not writing all this spurred on by an inner rage to criticize the festival. Heavens no…I want to see the shortcomings fixed in the name of the festival’s international image and in improving its reception here at home by myself and other film lovers.

Here’s looking forward to an improved and well-organized 10th film festival next year.

Signed by a loyal Golden Apricot film-goer.

P.S. A brief note to cinema operators, especially those who run Nayiri Theater…Please, during these blistering summer days, don’t scrimp on the air conditioning inside. It makes for a very uncomfortable viewing experience.

Photo: Lusine Sargsyan

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Competing for the “Pit”: Armenia’s Golden Apricot film festival gets new section
  2. Golden Apricot 7th Yerevan International Film Festival underway
  3. Golden Apricot: Festival in ninth year includes special award from Church
  4. Golden Apricot: Festival in ninth year includes special award from Church
  5. Golden Apricot: Yerevan hosting ninth edition of int’l film festival

“We Need To Lift The Armenian Taboo”

00:40, July 16, 2012

The 9th annual Golden Apricot Film Festival in Yerevan came to a close yesterday amidst the pomp and circumstance that such events seem to automatically spawn.

While I wasn’t at the closing ceremony, I can just picture the throngs of average citizens milling about, alongside the ranks of the nation’s cultural elite, trying to push their way into the Moscow Cinema.

Red carpets, boisterous bouts of applause, and the speeches of praise and thanks for yet another job well done…

I sure the organizers of the festival are pleased with the show they put on. But before the organizing committee gets to work on next’s year’s festival, I would like to ask them – Just who is the festival for? 

If the answer is the rank and film aficionado, the spectator,  then the committee would be advised to take the views of the festival goers into consideration and to show them just a bit of respect.

I saw four films at the festival this year in French, English and Italian.

Not one was properly translated. Here, I’m not referring to the technical glitches associated with the subtitles. That’s the least of the problem even though they could be avoided by hiring a competent text editor.

What really irritated me was to see translations that had no connection at all to the original language script. This is directly disrespecting the audience. It’s akin to saying – Hey, the audience doesn’t know any better so why go to the trouble of presenting an accurate translation.

The July 10 screening Alexander Sokurov’s “The Sun” was a disaster. You’d think the voice of the young girl doing the translating was reading from a Google translate page. Most in the audience left out of disgust. The rest stayed in their seats, interested to see how far the translator’s imagination would reach.

At one point in the film, the simple original words “The Americans have arrived” were translated as “You must leave America”.

Translation flubs also graced “Paradise: Love” and “Death in Venice”. Even Michael Haneke’s “Love”, the festival’s closing film was improperly translated.

Such faults were pardonable in the early days of the festival when financing was tight and the organizers were a group of enthusiastic film buffs with little experience in putting on such an event. But this was the 9th festival which is sponsored by the Armenian government and companies like VivaCell. It’s high time to expect some professionalism and accountability.

Those film lovers who came to Moscow Cinema on July 14, the last day of the festival, left feeling abused and cheated.

I and scores like me rushed to the Moscow Cinema to see Michael Haneke’s “Love” at 6pm. We had all purchased tickets earlier in the week since we knew they’d sell out quickly.

When we got to the doors of the Blue Auditorium, we were met by Golden Apricot staffers announcing that the 6pm showing was reserved for festival guests and those with invitations. The rest of us peons who actually purchased tickets would have to wait till 8:30pm to see the film.

We all felt like second-class citizens – angry and dejected. Some had left elderly parents at home, others had travelled from outside of Yerevan to make it…I had to postpone another important meeting in order not to miss the closing film.

Why didn’t the festival organizers, with 32 media outlets at their beck and call, announce the time change IN TIME?

I mean the organizers themselves stated that the change was decided a whole three days before the July 14 screening. Couldn’t chief sponsor VivaCell, with its 21st century technology, have sent out messages about the screening change?

But it seems that the Golden Apricot organizers are still thinking along medieval lines. The best they could do was to affix a time advisory on the inside of the entrance door to Moscow Cinema. Did the organizers ever stop to think that ticket holders just might not accidentally “stop by” the cinema and read the advisory? Of course not.

Where did these people acquire their public relations savvy? And then they have the gall to say, “We apologize for any inconvenience….” You know what you can do with your apologies…

I’m not writing all this spurred on by an inner rage to criticize the festival. Heavens no…I want to see the shortcomings fixed in the name of the festival’s international image and in improving its reception here at home by myself and other film lovers.

Here’s looking forward to an improved and well-organized 10th film festival next year.

Signed by a loyal Golden Apricot film-goer.

P.S. A brief note to cinema operators, especially those who run Nayiri Theater…Please, during these blistering summer days, don’t scrimp on the air conditioning inside. It makes for a very uncomfortable viewing experience.

Photo: Lusine Sargsyan

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Competing for the “Pit”: Armenia’s Golden Apricot film festival gets new section
  2. Golden Apricot 7th Yerevan International Film Festival underway
  3. Golden Apricot: Festival in ninth year includes special award from Church
  4. Golden Apricot: Festival in ninth year includes special award from Church
  5. Golden Apricot: Yerevan hosting ninth edition of int’l film festival

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

00:40, July 16, 2012

The 9th annual Golden Apricot Film Festival in Yerevan came to a close yesterday amidst the pomp and circumstance that such events seem to automatically spawn.

While I wasn’t at the closing ceremony, I can just picture the throngs of average citizens milling about, alongside the ranks of the nation’s cultural elite, trying to push their way into the Moscow Cinema.

Red carpets, boisterous bouts of applause, and the speeches of praise and thanks for yet another job well done…

I sure the organizers of the festival are pleased with the show they put on. But before the organizing committee gets to work on next’s year’s festival, I would like to ask them – Just who is the festival for? 

If the answer is the rank and film aficionado, the spectator,  then the committee would be advised to take the views of the festival goers into consideration and to show them just a bit of respect.

I saw four films at the festival this year in French, English and Italian.

Not one was properly translated. Here, I’m not referring to the technical glitches associated with the subtitles. That’s the least of the problem even though they could be avoided by hiring a competent text editor.

What really irritated me was to see translations that had no connection at all to the original language script. This is directly disrespecting the audience. It’s akin to saying – Hey, the audience doesn’t know any better so why go to the trouble of presenting an accurate translation.

The July 10 screening Alexander Sokurov’s “The Sun” was a disaster. You’d think the voice of the young girl doing the translating was reading from a Google translate page. Most in the audience left out of disgust. The rest stayed in their seats, interested to see how far the translator’s imagination would reach.

At one point in the film, the simple original words “The Americans have arrived” were translated as “You must leave America”.

Translation flubs also graced “Paradise: Love” and “Death in Venice”. Even Michael Haneke’s “Love”, the festival’s closing film was improperly translated.

Such faults were pardonable in the early days of the festival when financing was tight and the organizers were a group of enthusiastic film buffs with little experience in putting on such an event. But this was the 9th festival which is sponsored by the Armenian government and companies like VivaCell. It’s high time to expect some professionalism and accountability.

Those film lovers who came to Moscow Cinema on July 14, the last day of the festival, left feeling abused and cheated.

I and scores like me rushed to the Moscow Cinema to see Michael Haneke’s “Love” at 6pm. We had all purchased tickets earlier in the week since we knew they’d sell out quickly.

When we got to the doors of the Blue Auditorium, we were met by Golden Apricot staffers announcing that the 6pm showing was reserved for festival guests and those with invitations. The rest of us peons who actually purchased tickets would have to wait till 8:30pm to see the film.

We all felt like second-class citizens – angry and dejected. Some had left elderly parents at home, others had travelled from outside of Yerevan to make it…I had to postpone another important meeting in order not to miss the closing film.

Why didn’t the festival organizers, with 32 media outlets at their beck and call, announce the time change IN TIME?

I mean the organizers themselves stated that the change was decided a whole three days before the July 14 screening. Couldn’t chief sponsor VivaCell, with its 21st century technology, have sent out messages about the screening change?

But it seems that the Golden Apricot organizers are still thinking along medieval lines. The best they could do was to affix a time advisory on the inside of the entrance door to Moscow Cinema. Did the organizers ever stop to think that ticket holders just might not accidentally “stop by” the cinema and read the advisory? Of course not.

Where did these people acquire their public relations savvy? And then they have the gall to say, “We apologize for any inconvenience….” You know what you can do with your apologies…

I’m not writing all this spurred on by an inner rage to criticize the festival. Heavens no…I want to see the shortcomings fixed in the name of the festival’s international image and in improving its reception here at home by myself and other film lovers.

Here’s looking forward to an improved and well-organized 10th film festival next year.

Signed by a loyal Golden Apricot film-goer.

P.S. A brief note to cinema operators, especially those who run Nayiri Theater…Please, during these blistering summer days, don’t scrimp on the air conditioning inside. It makes for a very uncomfortable viewing experience.

Photo: Lusine Sargsyan

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Competing for the “Pit”: Armenia’s Golden Apricot film festival gets new section
  2. Golden Apricot 7th Yerevan International Film Festival underway
  3. Golden Apricot: Festival in ninth year includes special award from Church
  4. Golden Apricot: Festival in ninth year includes special award from Church
  5. Golden Apricot: Yerevan hosting ninth edition of int’l film festival

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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

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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.

“In the past, if water use conditions weren’t met, we couldn’t void the permit, but now we’re making that clear. If the state gives you a water use permit with this condition, be kind and meet this condition; otherwise, we will make the permit null and void,” he explained.

A new requirement in the proposed package concerning the execution of drilling operations stipulates that a drilling company or individual must obtain a license so that the state can supervise its activities. “Those companies that execute drilling must have a license for drilling. That is, we are proposing to license activities,” he added.

After the relevant state bodies discuss and submit their opinions regarding the amendments, Narimanyan says, the package will be sent to the RA Ministry of Justice, the government, then finally to parliament.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

No related posts.

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.

Karabakh war veterans’ civil standoff has been unprecedented. Although, every now and then on different occasions they had complained of their social conditions and of being neglected by the state , however never before had they come out to hold systematic rallies and sitting strikes. Retired army colonel Volodya Avetisyan initiated the civil standoff in May and in October found himself behind the bars, with charges of “swindling …in large amounts”. Avetisyan’s and his comrades-in-arms claim that by bringing charges the authorities are trying to silence him. The war vets demanding increase of their pensions and various privileges have now focused their struggle on various acts of protest in Avetisyan’s support. There is another group of Karabakh war veterans presenting political demands to the government. Every Thursday they hold small rallies in Liberty Square and demand that the government resign.

Yerevan mayor Taron Margaryan’s decision to raise public bus fare by 50 percent made the hot Yerevan summer even hotter.

The decision was immediately followed by a civil movement when numerous young activists held a variety of acts of protest during five consecutive days relentlessly struggling, rebelling against the bus fare increase and made the municipal government in the Armenian capital heed the people’s voice, forcing them to understand they would not pay more for using the overloaded, worn-out and hardly functioning minibuses.

The unified effort yielded results and on July 26 the mayor suspended the application of his decision temporarily, meaning that the buses and minibuses continued operating for the same 100 dram fare (around 24 cents). The mayor, however, stated that if residents of Yerevan wanted to have decent public transport services, they have to be ready to pay more. Municipal officials and transport companies running the routes have repeatedly stated after the summer civil standoff that the rise of bus fare is unavoidable, grounding it by the fact that everything else has become more expensive except for public transport services, hence their expenses have grown and they are operating at a loss.

The departing year has turned out to be rather active also in terms of public protests against controversial construction projects. In August, residents of 10 and 12 Sayat-Nova Avenue and 5 Komitas streets, in Yerevan, rebelled against construction in their neighborhoods. These people claim that the construction licenses in densely populated zones of the city are illegal, violate the seismic resistance norms, and block their light. Despite the variety of measures the residents have resorted to, even lying down in front of construction machines to block their way, no tangible results have been achieved; their struggle is ongoing (h).

Despite a drawn-out battle to preserve unchanged Yerevan’s Pak Shuka (“Covered Market”), on the list of historical-cultural heritage and belonging to businessman MP Samvel Alexanyan, opened its doors after two years of repairs, but now as a fashionable supermarket, rather than the produce market it used to be. Although ruling Republican MP Alexanyan kept the fa

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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.

During the year there has been an ongoing debate in Armenia and other post-Soviet countries about whether it is expedient “to revive a new Soviet empire” under the name of a Eurasian Union. But at the end of the year plans to create such a union remain relevant – in May 2014 Armenia is going to be one of the six founders of the Eurasian Union (along with Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan).

Before September 3, Armenia was actively engaged with Europe, stating about shared values and ‘civilizational’ approaches. Armenia even dared reproach Russia for selling offensive weapons to Azerbaijan.

After September 3, however, Armenia suddenly remembered its centuries-old friendship with Russia as well as Russia’s ‘salutary’ role. Pro-Russian rhetoric increased and some even stated the readiness to return to the Russian Empire. In particular, publicist Zori Balayan wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, mentioning the Treaty of Gulistan of 1813, according to which, as a result of the Russian-Persian war, Persia renounced claims to Karabakh that went under Russia’s control.

The Russia-West struggle for post-Soviet countries, including for Armenia, in 2013 came out of its passive phase and acquired the character of an open confrontation. In the course of this battle all methods were employed – from economic blackmail to high-level visits. In particular, the visit by Putin to Armenia on December 2, as some analysts say, marked Armenia’s losing another portion of its sovereignty and security to Russia.

There have been some new developments in the Karabakh settlement process as well. In particular, on November 19, in Vienna, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev, met for the first time in almost two years. During the meeting some new proposals were apparently discussed. The talks were confidential, but on the basis of available information experts assume that Russia and Turkey are promoting the project of opening the Turkish-Armenian border at the expense of Armenia’s concessions on two districts around Karabakh. The U.S. and Europe appear to insist on settlement and opening of communications while maintaining the current status quo in Karabakh.

Partially this version was confirmed on the eve of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s visit to Yerevan on December 12 (he was attending a regional organization’s forum in the Armenian capital). The Turkish press openly reported the offer from Turkey, but President Sargsyan did not receive Davutoglu, while Minister Edward Nalbandian stated that preconditions are unacceptable in Armenian-Turkish normalization.

The sudden change in the policy of Armenia, according to analysts, could lead to some adjustments in the positions of Armenia on relations with Turkey. At the beginning of 2013 Yerevan set up a commission to study possible legal claims to Turkey. The body was headed by the then Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepyan. It was followed by assumptions that in 2015, when the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will be marked, Armenia, with the support of the West, intends to advance serious claims to Turkey. However, the commission has not yet taken any public steps, and after September 3 decisions on claims to Turkey may already be made through Moscow.

Turkey has made no secret of its concern, especially in connection with the probability of combined Kurdish and Armenian claims. In this regard, Turkey has launched a wide-ranging process of reconciliation with the Kurds. 2013 became auspicious also for the Kurdish movement as the prospect of establishing Kurdistan became even closer.

The agreement on the conflict in Syria became an important event of the year also for Armenia in view of the sizable ethnic Armenian community in this Middle Eastern country. In accordance with this agreement, the world power centers decided not to support any side in the Syrian conflict, to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and lead the country to democratic elections in 2014.

An even more significant agreement was reached by the end of the year on Iran’s nuclear program, which immediately led to the lifting of a number of sanctions that had been imposed on the Islamic Republic by the West and its activation in regional politics. In particular, Iran immediately tried to offer natural gas to Armenia that would apparently be less expensive than Russia’s. Projects in energy and communication sectors have also become more relevant in view of the recent developments and Armenia may play an important role in them.

Source: Armenia NowOriginial Article

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Heritage reshuffle: Postanjyan becomes new leader of parliamentary faction

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Zaruhi Postanjyan has been elected new head of the opposition Heritage faction in parliament. The change comes after Ruben Hakobyan announced his decision to resign as faction leader earlier today.

Talking to media in parliament Hakobyan said Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian had been notified about his move well in advance. He left questions about reasons for his step without commentary, only saying that he had decided to step down as faction leader before the recent scandal around Postanjyan in the wake of her controversial question to President Serzh Sargsyan about his gambling habit at the PACE plenary session in Strasbourg on October 2.

Unlike a majority of Heritage members Hakobyan then was critical of Postanjyan’s behavior. Representatives of the ruling party in Armenia called her statement in Strasbourg slanderous and the parliament speaker threatened to expel her from the Armenian delegation to the PACE.

Postanjian, meanwhile, would not be drawn into speculation about the reasons for Hakobyan’s decision either.

Source: Armenia NowOriginial Article

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