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Syrian, Iranian Nationals ‘Unable To Open Bank Accounts In Armenia’

August 15, 2012 Armenia, Diaspora, Middle East, Top News No Comments
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Armenia’s commercial banks have been refusing to open accounts for citizens of Iran and Syria, according to ethnic Armenians from the two Middle Eastern nations living in Yerevan.

Komitas Mirijanian and his family are among hundreds of Syrian Armenians who have moved to Armenia this year to flee escalating violence in Syria. He said on Wednesday that they sold their house and other assets in Syria and planned to deposit the resulting proceeds in an Armenian bank before arriving in their ancestral homeland in late May.

Mirijanian claimed that he applied to two such banks, the local branches of HSBC and the Lebanese Byblos Bank, but was rebuffed by both of them. “They gave no reason,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “They just said they can’t open an account now.”

Mirijanian said he had to transfer the money to a bank account of a Yerevan-based friend, who is an Iranian-born Armenian citizen. “The money is now being kept in his name,” he said.

Artin Arakelian, an Iranian Armenian who relocated to Armenia several years ago, told a similar story. He said he was unable to open bank accounts there until gaining Armenian citizenship.

Arakelian said the alleged ban is a serious hurdle to the transfer of capital from Iranian and especially Syrian Armenians. “They are now having problems on both sides: in Armenia and Syria,” he said. “They can’t retrieve cash from Syria. They have to transfer it to Lebanon through some channels and on to Armenia through international banks.”

“The problem is that Armenia’s banking system is not allowed to open accounts for Syrian nationals,” he claimed.

HSBC Bank Armenia, one of the largest in the country, acknowledged serious restrictions in its dealings with potential Syrian and Iranian clients. It said that it is complying with not only Armenian legislation but also international sanctions against Syria and Iran.

In a statement sent to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, the British bank said it is ready to accept personal savings and money for current transactions from Syrian citizens only if they pledge that there will be no further cash inflows from Syria. The bank said it can also refuse to open accounts if Syrian clients fail to provide detailed information about the origin of their proposed deposits.

The HSBC Group subsidiary also made clear that it opens accounts for only those Iranian citizens that legally reside in a country other than Iran. It attributed this restriction to the international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The Central Bank of Armenia (CBA), meanwhile, insisted that Armenian banking legislation places no restrictions on local commercial banks accepting cash from foreigners.

Still, the banks are subject to curbs stemming from an Armenian law aimed at preventing the financing of international terrorism. Armenia enacted the law after the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States as part of its pledges to cooperate with Washington in countering the cross-border flow of money to anti-Western terror groups. Both Iran and Syria have long been accused by the U.S. of sponsoring international terrorism.

Bagrat Asatrian, a former CBA governor, suggested that this is the reason why Armenians from those states have trouble opening bank accounts. “The banks are just being careful to avoid trouble,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Asatrian criticized this policy, saying that the authorities in Yerevan should intervene to enable those Diaspora Armenians to keep their savings and other assets in Armenia. “Nobody, no international body can rebuke Armenia for doing that,” he said.

“We are dealing with an extraordinary situation,” added Asatrian. “The lives and properties of some of our compatriots are in danger, and it is incumbent on our authorities to do something about that.”

Source: RFE/RLOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. All-Armenia Fund Sets Up Bank Accounts to Assist Syrian-Armenians
  2. National Security Service – $1.1 Million Channeled to Oskanian’s and Civiltas Board Member Bank Accounts
  3. Fallout: Syrian-Armenians continue fleeing to Armenia
  4. Republican Union of Employers of Armenia ready to assist Syrian-Armenian businessmen
  5. Syrian-Armenian children arrive in Armenia

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Armenia’s commercial banks have been refusing to open accounts for citizens of Iran and Syria, according to ethnic Armenians from the two Middle Eastern nations living in Yerevan.

Komitas Mirijanian and his family are among hundreds of Syrian Armenians who have moved to Armenia this year to flee escalating violence in Syria. He said on Wednesday that they sold their house and other assets in Syria and planned to deposit the resulting proceeds in an Armenian bank before arriving in their ancestral homeland in late May.

Mirijanian claimed that he applied to two such banks, the local branches of HSBC and the Lebanese Byblos Bank, but was rebuffed by both of them. “They gave no reason,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “They just said they can’t open an account now.”

Mirijanian said he had to transfer the money to a bank account of a Yerevan-based friend, who is an Iranian-born Armenian citizen. “The money is now being kept in his name,” he said.

Artin Arakelian, an Iranian Armenian who relocated to Armenia several years ago, told a similar story. He said he was unable to open bank accounts there until gaining Armenian citizenship.

Arakelian said the alleged ban is a serious hurdle to the transfer of capital from Iranian and especially Syrian Armenians. “They are now having problems on both sides: in Armenia and Syria,” he said. “They can’t retrieve cash from Syria. They have to transfer it to Lebanon through some channels and on to Armenia through international banks.”

“The problem is that Armenia’s banking system is not allowed to open accounts for Syrian nationals,” he claimed.

HSBC Bank Armenia, one of the largest in the country, acknowledged serious restrictions in its dealings with potential Syrian and Iranian clients. It said that it is complying with not only Armenian legislation but also international sanctions against Syria and Iran.

In a statement sent to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, the British bank said it is ready to accept personal savings and money for current transactions from Syrian citizens only if they pledge that there will be no further cash inflows from Syria. The bank said it can also refuse to open accounts if Syrian clients fail to provide detailed information about the origin of their proposed deposits.

The HSBC Group subsidiary also made clear that it opens accounts for only those Iranian citizens that legally reside in a country other than Iran. It attributed this restriction to the international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The Central Bank of Armenia (CBA), meanwhile, insisted that Armenian banking legislation places no restrictions on local commercial banks accepting cash from foreigners.

Still, the banks are subject to curbs stemming from an Armenian law aimed at preventing the financing of international terrorism. Armenia enacted the law after the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States as part of its pledges to cooperate with Washington in countering the cross-border flow of money to anti-Western terror groups. Both Iran and Syria have long been accused by the U.S. of sponsoring international terrorism.

Bagrat Asatrian, a former CBA governor, suggested that this is the reason why Armenians from those states have trouble opening bank accounts. “The banks are just being careful to avoid trouble,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Asatrian criticized this policy, saying that the authorities in Yerevan should intervene to enable those Diaspora Armenians to keep their savings and other assets in Armenia. “Nobody, no international body can rebuke Armenia for doing that,” he said.

“We are dealing with an extraordinary situation,” added Asatrian. “The lives and properties of some of our compatriots are in danger, and it is incumbent on our authorities to do something about that.”

Source: RFE/RLOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. All-Armenia Fund Sets Up Bank Accounts to Assist Syrian-Armenians
  2. National Security Service – $1.1 Million Channeled to Oskanian’s and Civiltas Board Member Bank Accounts
  3. Fallout: Syrian-Armenians continue fleeing to Armenia
  4. Republican Union of Employers of Armenia ready to assist Syrian-Armenian businessmen
  5. Syrian-Armenian children arrive in Armenia

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Armenia’s commercial banks have been refusing to open accounts for citizens of Iran and Syria, according to ethnic Armenians from the two Middle Eastern nations living in Yerevan.

Komitas Mirijanian and his family are among hundreds of Syrian Armenians who have moved to Armenia this year to flee escalating violence in Syria. He said on Wednesday that they sold their house and other assets in Syria and planned to deposit the resulting proceeds in an Armenian bank before arriving in their ancestral homeland in late May.

Mirijanian claimed that he applied to two such banks, the local branches of HSBC and the Lebanese Byblos Bank, but was rebuffed by both of them. “They gave no reason,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “They just said they can’t open an account now.”

Mirijanian said he had to transfer the money to a bank account of a Yerevan-based friend, who is an Iranian-born Armenian citizen. “The money is now being kept in his name,” he said.

Artin Arakelian, an Iranian Armenian who relocated to Armenia several years ago, told a similar story. He said he was unable to open bank accounts there until gaining Armenian citizenship.

Arakelian said the alleged ban is a serious hurdle to the transfer of capital from Iranian and especially Syrian Armenians. “They are now having problems on both sides: in Armenia and Syria,” he said. “They can’t retrieve cash from Syria. They have to transfer it to Lebanon through some channels and on to Armenia through international banks.”

“The problem is that Armenia’s banking system is not allowed to open accounts for Syrian nationals,” he claimed.

HSBC Bank Armenia, one of the largest in the country, acknowledged serious restrictions in its dealings with potential Syrian and Iranian clients. It said that it is complying with not only Armenian legislation but also international sanctions against Syria and Iran.

In a statement sent to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, the British bank said it is ready to accept personal savings and money for current transactions from Syrian citizens only if they pledge that there will be no further cash inflows from Syria. The bank said it can also refuse to open accounts if Syrian clients fail to provide detailed information about the origin of their proposed deposits.

The HSBC Group subsidiary also made clear that it opens accounts for only those Iranian citizens that legally reside in a country other than Iran. It attributed this restriction to the international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The Central Bank of Armenia (CBA), meanwhile, insisted that Armenian banking legislation places no restrictions on local commercial banks accepting cash from foreigners.

Still, the banks are subject to curbs stemming from an Armenian law aimed at preventing the financing of international terrorism. Armenia enacted the law after the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States as part of its pledges to cooperate with Washington in countering the cross-border flow of money to anti-Western terror groups. Both Iran and Syria have long been accused by the U.S. of sponsoring international terrorism.

Bagrat Asatrian, a former CBA governor, suggested that this is the reason why Armenians from those states have trouble opening bank accounts. “The banks are just being careful to avoid trouble,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Asatrian criticized this policy, saying that the authorities in Yerevan should intervene to enable those Diaspora Armenians to keep their savings and other assets in Armenia. “Nobody, no international body can rebuke Armenia for doing that,” he said.

“We are dealing with an extraordinary situation,” added Asatrian. “The lives and properties of some of our compatriots are in danger, and it is incumbent on our authorities to do something about that.”

Source: RFE/RLOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. All-Armenia Fund Sets Up Bank Accounts to Assist Syrian-Armenians
  2. National Security Service – $1.1 Million Channeled to Oskanian’s and Civiltas Board Member Bank Accounts
  3. Fallout: Syrian-Armenians continue fleeing to Armenia
  4. Republican Union of Employers of Armenia ready to assist Syrian-Armenian businessmen
  5. Syrian-Armenian children arrive in Armenia

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Armenia’s commercial banks have been refusing to open accounts for citizens of Iran and Syria, according to ethnic Armenians from the two Middle Eastern nations living in Yerevan.

Komitas Mirijanian and his family are among hundreds of Syrian Armenians who have moved to Armenia this year to flee escalating violence in Syria. He said on Wednesday that they sold their house and other assets in Syria and planned to deposit the resulting proceeds in an Armenian bank before arriving in their ancestral homeland in late May.

Mirijanian claimed that he applied to two such banks, the local branches of HSBC and the Lebanese Byblos Bank, but was rebuffed by both of them. “They gave no reason,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “They just said they can’t open an account now.”

Mirijanian said he had to transfer the money to a bank account of a Yerevan-based friend, who is an Iranian-born Armenian citizen. “The money is now being kept in his name,” he said.

Artin Arakelian, an Iranian Armenian who relocated to Armenia several years ago, told a similar story. He said he was unable to open bank accounts there until gaining Armenian citizenship.

Arakelian said the alleged ban is a serious hurdle to the transfer of capital from Iranian and especially Syrian Armenians. “They are now having problems on both sides: in Armenia and Syria,” he said. “They can’t retrieve cash from Syria. They have to transfer it to Lebanon through some channels and on to Armenia through international banks.”

“The problem is that Armenia’s banking system is not allowed to open accounts for Syrian nationals,” he claimed.

HSBC Bank Armenia, one of the largest in the country, acknowledged serious restrictions in its dealings with potential Syrian and Iranian clients. It said that it is complying with not only Armenian legislation but also international sanctions against Syria and Iran.

In a statement sent to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, the British bank said it is ready to accept personal savings and money for current transactions from Syrian citizens only if they pledge that there will be no further cash inflows from Syria. The bank said it can also refuse to open accounts if Syrian clients fail to provide detailed information about the origin of their proposed deposits.

The HSBC Group subsidiary also made clear that it opens accounts for only those Iranian citizens that legally reside in a country other than Iran. It attributed this restriction to the international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The Central Bank of Armenia (CBA), meanwhile, insisted that Armenian banking legislation places no restrictions on local commercial banks accepting cash from foreigners.

Still, the banks are subject to curbs stemming from an Armenian law aimed at preventing the financing of international terrorism. Armenia enacted the law after the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States as part of its pledges to cooperate with Washington in countering the cross-border flow of money to anti-Western terror groups. Both Iran and Syria have long been accused by the U.S. of sponsoring international terrorism.

Bagrat Asatrian, a former CBA governor, suggested that this is the reason why Armenians from those states have trouble opening bank accounts. “The banks are just being careful to avoid trouble,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Asatrian criticized this policy, saying that the authorities in Yerevan should intervene to enable those Diaspora Armenians to keep their savings and other assets in Armenia. “Nobody, no international body can rebuke Armenia for doing that,” he said.

“We are dealing with an extraordinary situation,” added Asatrian. “The lives and properties of some of our compatriots are in danger, and it is incumbent on our authorities to do something about that.”

Source: RFE/RLOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. All-Armenia Fund Sets Up Bank Accounts to Assist Syrian-Armenians
  2. National Security Service – $1.1 Million Channeled to Oskanian’s and Civiltas Board Member Bank Accounts
  3. Fallout: Syrian-Armenians continue fleeing to Armenia
  4. Republican Union of Employers of Armenia ready to assist Syrian-Armenian businessmen
  5. Syrian-Armenian children arrive in Armenia

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

Armenia’s commercial banks have been refusing to open accounts for citizens of Iran and Syria, according to ethnic Armenians from the two Middle Eastern nations living in Yerevan.

Komitas Mirijanian and his family are among hundreds of Syrian Armenians who have moved to Armenia this year to flee escalating violence in Syria. He said on Wednesday that they sold their house and other assets in Syria and planned to deposit the resulting proceeds in an Armenian bank before arriving in their ancestral homeland in late May.

Mirijanian claimed that he applied to two such banks, the local branches of HSBC and the Lebanese Byblos Bank, but was rebuffed by both of them. “They gave no reason,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “They just said they can’t open an account now.”

Mirijanian said he had to transfer the money to a bank account of a Yerevan-based friend, who is an Iranian-born Armenian citizen. “The money is now being kept in his name,” he said.

Artin Arakelian, an Iranian Armenian who relocated to Armenia several years ago, told a similar story. He said he was unable to open bank accounts there until gaining Armenian citizenship.

Arakelian said the alleged ban is a serious hurdle to the transfer of capital from Iranian and especially Syrian Armenians. “They are now having problems on both sides: in Armenia and Syria,” he said. “They can’t retrieve cash from Syria. They have to transfer it to Lebanon through some channels and on to Armenia through international banks.”

“The problem is that Armenia’s banking system is not allowed to open accounts for Syrian nationals,” he claimed.

HSBC Bank Armenia, one of the largest in the country, acknowledged serious restrictions in its dealings with potential Syrian and Iranian clients. It said that it is complying with not only Armenian legislation but also international sanctions against Syria and Iran.

In a statement sent to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, the British bank said it is ready to accept personal savings and money for current transactions from Syrian citizens only if they pledge that there will be no further cash inflows from Syria. The bank said it can also refuse to open accounts if Syrian clients fail to provide detailed information about the origin of their proposed deposits.

The HSBC Group subsidiary also made clear that it opens accounts for only those Iranian citizens that legally reside in a country other than Iran. It attributed this restriction to the international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The Central Bank of Armenia (CBA), meanwhile, insisted that Armenian banking legislation places no restrictions on local commercial banks accepting cash from foreigners.

Still, the banks are subject to curbs stemming from an Armenian law aimed at preventing the financing of international terrorism. Armenia enacted the law after the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States as part of its pledges to cooperate with Washington in countering the cross-border flow of money to anti-Western terror groups. Both Iran and Syria have long been accused by the U.S. of sponsoring international terrorism.

Bagrat Asatrian, a former CBA governor, suggested that this is the reason why Armenians from those states have trouble opening bank accounts. “The banks are just being careful to avoid trouble,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Asatrian criticized this policy, saying that the authorities in Yerevan should intervene to enable those Diaspora Armenians to keep their savings and other assets in Armenia. “Nobody, no international body can rebuke Armenia for doing that,” he said.

“We are dealing with an extraordinary situation,” added Asatrian. “The lives and properties of some of our compatriots are in danger, and it is incumbent on our authorities to do something about that.”

Source: RFE/RLOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. All-Armenia Fund Sets Up Bank Accounts to Assist Syrian-Armenians
  2. National Security Service – $1.1 Million Channeled to Oskanian’s and Civiltas Board Member Bank Accounts
  3. Fallout: Syrian-Armenians continue fleeing to Armenia
  4. Republican Union of Employers of Armenia ready to assist Syrian-Armenian businessmen
  5. Syrian-Armenian children arrive in Armenia

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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.

The writer describes the members of the group as “gun-toting defendants” driving flashy cars “and connected to elaborate schemes in bank fraud, identity theft and other highly sophisticated white-collar crimes.”

Armenian Power originated in the 1980s by young Armenians, mainly from Soviet Armenia, to protect themselves from Mexican gangs in Los Angeles high schools. In time the organization developed working relations with the latter and shifted focus from fighting for territory to fighting for money and power.

My initial reaction to the report, like to all things Armenian, is visceral. Besides the fact that the horrific nature of the group’s actions turns my stomach, I feel angry. There are many positive contributions Armenians make to the communities they live in, so why point out the negative?

I think and catch myself in doing something very typically Armenian: reacting defensively when a non-Armenian criticizes my people. I immediately want to blame someone, mainly the person who is pointing a finger in my direction. This is a natural reaction for those of us who take pride in belonging to a lineage older than Noah’s Ark.

Ancient is the Armenian archetype – our intuitive behavior that has proven to withstand the test of time. We’ve been around so long, we consider ourselves to be wise and flawless. It is in our ethnic genome to revere the old and be doubtful of the new, to respect the elder as authority and dismiss the young as naive and inexperienced, to move in time and space, but not leave the past and the home we left behind. Any divergence from what has history and is the norm, we perceive as deficient, abnormal, lacking.

Young Armenians in American public schools faced with anything but the norm, as they know it, are caught by surprise like objects uprooted by cyclonic winds.

When life throws us into the realm of the unexpected or takes us out of our element, when it forces us to question our truths and face our shortcomings that make us seem not so perfect, we feel ashamed and become unforgiving. This quickly leads us on to the path of self-loathing. Our genesis, the very thing that is the source of our pride and the reason for our being, becomes our handicap in the youth-crazed, ever changing culture of the new world. We feel betrayed.

Additionally, we have been conditioned to put on our best face in public, regardless of what is going on inside. This archetype was reinforced during the Soviet era. We do not air our dirty laundry in public, but proudly display our clean, shiny load in front of our balconies and windows literally and figuratively. We even pride ourselves in the way we pin the pieces next to each other on the clothesline!

So, regardless of our circumstances, we find ways to put on a front like the well choreographed parades of the Soviet government. For God’s sake, we were the first people to adopt Christianity as our state religion! Never mind that our church is void of spirituality and our God cares more about the dead than the living.

Then we boast, and when others dare to not appreciate our genius with expected enthusiasm, we resort to demeaning, deprecating commentary and are not shy about projecting our negative feelings. No one is good enough, smart enough, deserving enough as Armenians. We’re the oldest and the wisest, and therefore most deserving of respect and appreciation.

More than once I have had to counsel a distraught Armenian parent complaining about how people make fun of their perfect child because he/she does not look or act like them.

When our expectations are not met, we are wounded and insulted. This is when the daredevil gene kicks in, and we don’t hesitate to give our perceived enemy a piece of our mind, or show off a flexed muscle.

We call this taseeb (honor): a sentiment that forces an Armenian to pick up a rifle and defend his physical and psychological turf. It is the same sentiment that drives a young Armenian to defend himself from insults and aggression, real or perceived, from a person of a different ethnicity in an American high school.

These archetypes are some of the underlying factors that lead Armenian youth into conflicting situations outside their circles.

In a new and changing world, old archetypes no longer serve the needs of the people, while the new ones are constantly elusive. Coupled with the desire to belong and to fit in, this drives people to adopt clichés that are readily available in a world congested with material, ideas and attitudes. Thus, to be accepted by the out-groups, to measure up and to be competitive, they quickly adopt what is more accessible to them for putting on the “perfect face.”

Designer clothing and accessories, Mercedes, BMW, Porches, attitudes and gestures we don’t quite grasp but admire, just about anything that we perceive as distinguishing and defining the out-group we are so eager to be a part of and be appreciated by, we collect. Clichés are easy to launder, polish, and pin on one’s life’s “clothes line”. Life in the new world becomes a long string of clichés.

In the absence of archetypes, reality is re-imagined, improvised like life on a theater stage, Marshall McLuhan explains. On this stage, young people are the characters of their own show, and there is nothing in the world more important than that until new archetypes take form.

The mafia or its modern day version – gangs that are a common occurrence in societies constantly in flux – is the stage where young people play out their roles. There have been Irish,   Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Mexican gangs in America prior to the Armenians.

Every wave of new arrivals, every wave of change, brings with it a new set of expectations and challenges. While families try to decipher the laws, rules, and traditions of their new environment, the young tend to gravitate towards groups that fill the need for belonging and provide a security network.

Some, more than others, in every group are willing to break rules often to their own detriment while caught between archetypes of the old world and the clichés of the new.

Marineh Khachadour is an educator, writer, researcher working in a public school in Pasadena, California.  She lived in Armenia from 1992-1998. During that time she provided educational services and resources for Armenian women and children including refugees and served as Gender in Development Expert with UNDP, Armenia from 1995-1998.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

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10:24, March 14, 2014

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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

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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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