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Yerevan Chronicle: “We should thank the Turks for the Genocide…”

October 16, 2012 Armenia, Commentary, Diaspora No Comments
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18:54, October 16, 2012

The following is a true story…unfortunately.

I had just finished a day’s work translating for Hetq. Around 4:30, I decided to take a walk outside. It looked like another great day in Yerevan; warm and sunny.

Making my way down Abovyan Street, I stepped into the Noyan Tapan bookstore off Republic Square. I headed towards the Armenian history and literature section towards the back.

Seated were some of the sales staff – two women, probably in their late twenties, and a middle-aged one. Not surprisingly they were complaining about the state of affairs in Armenia.

“They say a nation gets the government it deserves,” commented one.

“That’s right. Armenians like to boast about their ancient civilization and all, but can you call what we’re living today civilized?” her colleague replied.

“It’s so sad,” said the first. “But at least we Armenians are a clever bunch. We make do with the measly wages we make.”

“You know,” the middle-aged sales clerk chimed in, “We should send a letter thanking the Turks for committing the genocide. As a result, Armenians were scattered around the world and now they can send us money here in Armenia.”

I almost dropped the book I was leafing through. I couldn’t believe what I had just overheard.

“It’s the truth,” said the middle-aged clerk. “It may sound a bit crude but that’s what I think.”

The younger clerks began to giggle. I felt an intense impulse to go over and choke the woman.

I weighed my options. What would be the proper response to such an ignorant and uncompassionate comment?

I slowly turned to the woman and in the most polite voice I could muster said, “Perhaps you should pick up one of the many books on the Genocide you sell here. Take a look at some of the photos of the death marches and the starving orphans left parentless. Maybe you’ll think before uttered such crap.”

The woman’s jaw dropped and she started to babble some lame apology.

“It’s was just a harmless joke. Don’t take it so seriously.”

“A joke you say? That’s some perverted sense of humour you have,” I shot back and walked out.

Now, I am confident that this woman is in the minority when it comes to such thoughts. But I am equally sure that there are many who think like her here in Armenia. You just have to scratch the surface.

Do all citizens of Armenia regard “outside” Armenians, many descendants of Genocide survivors, as convenient money faucets? Is that how many regard me? an “outsider and descendant of Genocide survivors.”

It makes your skin crawl…at least that’s how I felt at that moment.

Even more unreal was the fact that right down the street, representatives of the AGBU were staying at the Marriott Hotel. There was even a big AGBU sign outside on the sidewalk announcing the fact.

The cafe tables outside the hotel were full of what I assumed were AGBU members sipping their drinks and conversing in Western Armenian. A lone local resident was pacing back and forth on the sidewalk selling nuts from a plastic bag.

An eerie combination indeed…but one that kind of sums up our present reality in a crazy sort of way. Perhaps the sales clerk was right. Who am I to judge?

The AGBU – one of the biggest Armenian money faucets around. I’m sure the bookstore sales clerk would have been overjoyed that her wish was coming true.

One thing for sure, the AGBU and other outside donor sources should demand a greater degree of accountability from the Armenian government to see that the money reaches its intended targets.

Maybe that ignorant sales clerk thought I was one of those rich AGBU types and she wanted to crack what she thought was a clever joke at my expense. If so, she’s doubly an asshole.

It’s just another sad commentary on the gulf that divides the realities of present-day Armenia and the global Diaspora.

Both sides have yet reached a point of mutual recognition.

Now the sales clerk in question evidently was aware of the 1915 Genocide, but for here it was just another tragic page in the history of the Armenian people. That’s to say it’s not an integral part of her personal identity, of who she is and where she comes from. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have used it as a reference for jokes.

I just wonder how many others think like her when they walk up the hill to the Tzitzernakapert Genocide Memorial and Eternal Flame every April 24th.

Please tell me I’m paranoid. Please tell me that we, as a nation, can overcome the stereotypes on both sides of the divide and reach some common understanding as to how we can cooperate and build a better Armenia for us all.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Police Arrest Two Teens in Attempted Yerevan Store Robbery
  2. Film on Armenian Genocide Wins Praise in Germany, Outrages the Turks
  3. Swiss Court Backs Initial Ruling of Swiss-Turks Convicted of Armenian Genocide Denial
  4. Leading Muslim Cleric Issued Fatwa, Condemning Turks for Killing Armenians
  5. Armenian genocide centennial commemoration commission begins its work

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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

18:54, October 16, 2012

The following is a true story…unfortunately.

I had just finished a day’s work translating for Hetq. Around 4:30, I decided to take a walk outside. It looked like another great day in Yerevan; warm and sunny.

Making my way down Abovyan Street, I stepped into the Noyan Tapan bookstore off Republic Square. I headed towards the Armenian history and literature section towards the back.

Seated were some of the sales staff – two women, probably in their late twenties, and a middle-aged one. Not surprisingly they were complaining about the state of affairs in Armenia.

“They say a nation gets the government it deserves,” commented one.

“That’s right. Armenians like to boast about their ancient civilization and all, but can you call what we’re living today civilized?” her colleague replied.

“It’s so sad,” said the first. “But at least we Armenians are a clever bunch. We make do with the measly wages we make.”

“You know,” the middle-aged sales clerk chimed in, “We should send a letter thanking the Turks for committing the genocide. As a result, Armenians were scattered around the world and now they can send us money here in Armenia.”

I almost dropped the book I was leafing through. I couldn’t believe what I had just overheard.

“It’s the truth,” said the middle-aged clerk. “It may sound a bit crude but that’s what I think.”

The younger clerks began to giggle. I felt an intense impulse to go over and choke the woman.

I weighed my options. What would be the proper response to such an ignorant and uncompassionate comment?

I slowly turned to the woman and in the most polite voice I could muster said, “Perhaps you should pick up one of the many books on the Genocide you sell here. Take a look at some of the photos of the death marches and the starving orphans left parentless. Maybe you’ll think before uttered such crap.”

The woman’s jaw dropped and she started to babble some lame apology.

“It’s was just a harmless joke. Don’t take it so seriously.”

“A joke you say? That’s some perverted sense of humour you have,” I shot back and walked out.

Now, I am confident that this woman is in the minority when it comes to such thoughts. But I am equally sure that there are many who think like her here in Armenia. You just have to scratch the surface.

Do all citizens of Armenia regard “outside” Armenians, many descendants of Genocide survivors, as convenient money faucets? Is that how many regard me? an “outsider and descendant of Genocide survivors.”

It makes your skin crawl…at least that’s how I felt at that moment.

Even more unreal was the fact that right down the street, representatives of the AGBU were staying at the Marriott Hotel. There was even a big AGBU sign outside on the sidewalk announcing the fact.

The cafe tables outside the hotel were full of what I assumed were AGBU members sipping their drinks and conversing in Western Armenian. A lone local resident was pacing back and forth on the sidewalk selling nuts from a plastic bag.

An eerie combination indeed…but one that kind of sums up our present reality in a crazy sort of way. Perhaps the sales clerk was right. Who am I to judge?

The AGBU – one of the biggest Armenian money faucets around. I’m sure the bookstore sales clerk would have been overjoyed that her wish was coming true.

One thing for sure, the AGBU and other outside donor sources should demand a greater degree of accountability from the Armenian government to see that the money reaches its intended targets.

Maybe that ignorant sales clerk thought I was one of those rich AGBU types and she wanted to crack what she thought was a clever joke at my expense. If so, she’s doubly an asshole.

It’s just another sad commentary on the gulf that divides the realities of present-day Armenia and the global Diaspora.

Both sides have yet reached a point of mutual recognition.

Now the sales clerk in question evidently was aware of the 1915 Genocide, but for here it was just another tragic page in the history of the Armenian people. That’s to say it’s not an integral part of her personal identity, of who she is and where she comes from. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have used it as a reference for jokes.

I just wonder how many others think like her when they walk up the hill to the Tzitzernakapert Genocide Memorial and Eternal Flame every April 24th.

Please tell me I’m paranoid. Please tell me that we, as a nation, can overcome the stereotypes on both sides of the divide and reach some common understanding as to how we can cooperate and build a better Armenia for us all.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Police Arrest Two Teens in Attempted Yerevan Store Robbery
  2. Film on Armenian Genocide Wins Praise in Germany, Outrages the Turks
  3. Swiss Court Backs Initial Ruling of Swiss-Turks Convicted of Armenian Genocide Denial
  4. Leading Muslim Cleric Issued Fatwa, Condemning Turks for Killing Armenians
  5. Armenian genocide centennial commemoration commission begins its work

New Children’s Picture Book From Armenian Folklore

18:54, October 16, 2012

The following is a true story…unfortunately.

I had just finished a day’s work translating for Hetq. Around 4:30, I decided to take a walk outside. It looked like another great day in Yerevan; warm and sunny.

Making my way down Abovyan Street, I stepped into the Noyan Tapan bookstore off Republic Square. I headed towards the Armenian history and literature section towards the back.

Seated were some of the sales staff – two women, probably in their late twenties, and a middle-aged one. Not surprisingly they were complaining about the state of affairs in Armenia.

“They say a nation gets the government it deserves,” commented one.

“That’s right. Armenians like to boast about their ancient civilization and all, but can you call what we’re living today civilized?” her colleague replied.

“It’s so sad,” said the first. “But at least we Armenians are a clever bunch. We make do with the measly wages we make.”

“You know,” the middle-aged sales clerk chimed in, “We should send a letter thanking the Turks for committing the genocide. As a result, Armenians were scattered around the world and now they can send us money here in Armenia.”

I almost dropped the book I was leafing through. I couldn’t believe what I had just overheard.

“It’s the truth,” said the middle-aged clerk. “It may sound a bit crude but that’s what I think.”

The younger clerks began to giggle. I felt an intense impulse to go over and choke the woman.

I weighed my options. What would be the proper response to such an ignorant and uncompassionate comment?

I slowly turned to the woman and in the most polite voice I could muster said, “Perhaps you should pick up one of the many books on the Genocide you sell here. Take a look at some of the photos of the death marches and the starving orphans left parentless. Maybe you’ll think before uttered such crap.”

The woman’s jaw dropped and she started to babble some lame apology.

“It’s was just a harmless joke. Don’t take it so seriously.”

“A joke you say? That’s some perverted sense of humour you have,” I shot back and walked out.

Now, I am confident that this woman is in the minority when it comes to such thoughts. But I am equally sure that there are many who think like her here in Armenia. You just have to scratch the surface.

Do all citizens of Armenia regard “outside” Armenians, many descendants of Genocide survivors, as convenient money faucets? Is that how many regard me? an “outsider and descendant of Genocide survivors.”

It makes your skin crawl…at least that’s how I felt at that moment.

Even more unreal was the fact that right down the street, representatives of the AGBU were staying at the Marriott Hotel. There was even a big AGBU sign outside on the sidewalk announcing the fact.

The cafe tables outside the hotel were full of what I assumed were AGBU members sipping their drinks and conversing in Western Armenian. A lone local resident was pacing back and forth on the sidewalk selling nuts from a plastic bag.

An eerie combination indeed…but one that kind of sums up our present reality in a crazy sort of way. Perhaps the sales clerk was right. Who am I to judge?

The AGBU – one of the biggest Armenian money faucets around. I’m sure the bookstore sales clerk would have been overjoyed that her wish was coming true.

One thing for sure, the AGBU and other outside donor sources should demand a greater degree of accountability from the Armenian government to see that the money reaches its intended targets.

Maybe that ignorant sales clerk thought I was one of those rich AGBU types and she wanted to crack what she thought was a clever joke at my expense. If so, she’s doubly an asshole.

It’s just another sad commentary on the gulf that divides the realities of present-day Armenia and the global Diaspora.

Both sides have yet reached a point of mutual recognition.

Now the sales clerk in question evidently was aware of the 1915 Genocide, but for here it was just another tragic page in the history of the Armenian people. That’s to say it’s not an integral part of her personal identity, of who she is and where she comes from. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have used it as a reference for jokes.

I just wonder how many others think like her when they walk up the hill to the Tzitzernakapert Genocide Memorial and Eternal Flame every April 24th.

Please tell me I’m paranoid. Please tell me that we, as a nation, can overcome the stereotypes on both sides of the divide and reach some common understanding as to how we can cooperate and build a better Armenia for us all.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Police Arrest Two Teens in Attempted Yerevan Store Robbery
  2. Film on Armenian Genocide Wins Praise in Germany, Outrages the Turks
  3. Swiss Court Backs Initial Ruling of Swiss-Turks Convicted of Armenian Genocide Denial
  4. Leading Muslim Cleric Issued Fatwa, Condemning Turks for Killing Armenians
  5. Armenian genocide centennial commemoration commission begins its work

“We Need To Lift The Armenian Taboo”

18:54, October 16, 2012

The following is a true story…unfortunately.

I had just finished a day’s work translating for Hetq. Around 4:30, I decided to take a walk outside. It looked like another great day in Yerevan; warm and sunny.

Making my way down Abovyan Street, I stepped into the Noyan Tapan bookstore off Republic Square. I headed towards the Armenian history and literature section towards the back.

Seated were some of the sales staff – two women, probably in their late twenties, and a middle-aged one. Not surprisingly they were complaining about the state of affairs in Armenia.

“They say a nation gets the government it deserves,” commented one.

“That’s right. Armenians like to boast about their ancient civilization and all, but can you call what we’re living today civilized?” her colleague replied.

“It’s so sad,” said the first. “But at least we Armenians are a clever bunch. We make do with the measly wages we make.”

“You know,” the middle-aged sales clerk chimed in, “We should send a letter thanking the Turks for committing the genocide. As a result, Armenians were scattered around the world and now they can send us money here in Armenia.”

I almost dropped the book I was leafing through. I couldn’t believe what I had just overheard.

“It’s the truth,” said the middle-aged clerk. “It may sound a bit crude but that’s what I think.”

The younger clerks began to giggle. I felt an intense impulse to go over and choke the woman.

I weighed my options. What would be the proper response to such an ignorant and uncompassionate comment?

I slowly turned to the woman and in the most polite voice I could muster said, “Perhaps you should pick up one of the many books on the Genocide you sell here. Take a look at some of the photos of the death marches and the starving orphans left parentless. Maybe you’ll think before uttered such crap.”

The woman’s jaw dropped and she started to babble some lame apology.

“It’s was just a harmless joke. Don’t take it so seriously.”

“A joke you say? That’s some perverted sense of humour you have,” I shot back and walked out.

Now, I am confident that this woman is in the minority when it comes to such thoughts. But I am equally sure that there are many who think like her here in Armenia. You just have to scratch the surface.

Do all citizens of Armenia regard “outside” Armenians, many descendants of Genocide survivors, as convenient money faucets? Is that how many regard me? an “outsider and descendant of Genocide survivors.”

It makes your skin crawl…at least that’s how I felt at that moment.

Even more unreal was the fact that right down the street, representatives of the AGBU were staying at the Marriott Hotel. There was even a big AGBU sign outside on the sidewalk announcing the fact.

The cafe tables outside the hotel were full of what I assumed were AGBU members sipping their drinks and conversing in Western Armenian. A lone local resident was pacing back and forth on the sidewalk selling nuts from a plastic bag.

An eerie combination indeed…but one that kind of sums up our present reality in a crazy sort of way. Perhaps the sales clerk was right. Who am I to judge?

The AGBU – one of the biggest Armenian money faucets around. I’m sure the bookstore sales clerk would have been overjoyed that her wish was coming true.

One thing for sure, the AGBU and other outside donor sources should demand a greater degree of accountability from the Armenian government to see that the money reaches its intended targets.

Maybe that ignorant sales clerk thought I was one of those rich AGBU types and she wanted to crack what she thought was a clever joke at my expense. If so, she’s doubly an asshole.

It’s just another sad commentary on the gulf that divides the realities of present-day Armenia and the global Diaspora.

Both sides have yet reached a point of mutual recognition.

Now the sales clerk in question evidently was aware of the 1915 Genocide, but for here it was just another tragic page in the history of the Armenian people. That’s to say it’s not an integral part of her personal identity, of who she is and where she comes from. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have used it as a reference for jokes.

I just wonder how many others think like her when they walk up the hill to the Tzitzernakapert Genocide Memorial and Eternal Flame every April 24th.

Please tell me I’m paranoid. Please tell me that we, as a nation, can overcome the stereotypes on both sides of the divide and reach some common understanding as to how we can cooperate and build a better Armenia for us all.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Police Arrest Two Teens in Attempted Yerevan Store Robbery
  2. Film on Armenian Genocide Wins Praise in Germany, Outrages the Turks
  3. Swiss Court Backs Initial Ruling of Swiss-Turks Convicted of Armenian Genocide Denial
  4. Leading Muslim Cleric Issued Fatwa, Condemning Turks for Killing Armenians
  5. Armenian genocide centennial commemoration commission begins its work

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

18:54, October 16, 2012

The following is a true story…unfortunately.

I had just finished a day’s work translating for Hetq. Around 4:30, I decided to take a walk outside. It looked like another great day in Yerevan; warm and sunny.

Making my way down Abovyan Street, I stepped into the Noyan Tapan bookstore off Republic Square. I headed towards the Armenian history and literature section towards the back.

Seated were some of the sales staff – two women, probably in their late twenties, and a middle-aged one. Not surprisingly they were complaining about the state of affairs in Armenia.

“They say a nation gets the government it deserves,” commented one.

“That’s right. Armenians like to boast about their ancient civilization and all, but can you call what we’re living today civilized?” her colleague replied.

“It’s so sad,” said the first. “But at least we Armenians are a clever bunch. We make do with the measly wages we make.”

“You know,” the middle-aged sales clerk chimed in, “We should send a letter thanking the Turks for committing the genocide. As a result, Armenians were scattered around the world and now they can send us money here in Armenia.”

I almost dropped the book I was leafing through. I couldn’t believe what I had just overheard.

“It’s the truth,” said the middle-aged clerk. “It may sound a bit crude but that’s what I think.”

The younger clerks began to giggle. I felt an intense impulse to go over and choke the woman.

I weighed my options. What would be the proper response to such an ignorant and uncompassionate comment?

I slowly turned to the woman and in the most polite voice I could muster said, “Perhaps you should pick up one of the many books on the Genocide you sell here. Take a look at some of the photos of the death marches and the starving orphans left parentless. Maybe you’ll think before uttered such crap.”

The woman’s jaw dropped and she started to babble some lame apology.

“It’s was just a harmless joke. Don’t take it so seriously.”

“A joke you say? That’s some perverted sense of humour you have,” I shot back and walked out.

Now, I am confident that this woman is in the minority when it comes to such thoughts. But I am equally sure that there are many who think like her here in Armenia. You just have to scratch the surface.

Do all citizens of Armenia regard “outside” Armenians, many descendants of Genocide survivors, as convenient money faucets? Is that how many regard me? an “outsider and descendant of Genocide survivors.”

It makes your skin crawl…at least that’s how I felt at that moment.

Even more unreal was the fact that right down the street, representatives of the AGBU were staying at the Marriott Hotel. There was even a big AGBU sign outside on the sidewalk announcing the fact.

The cafe tables outside the hotel were full of what I assumed were AGBU members sipping their drinks and conversing in Western Armenian. A lone local resident was pacing back and forth on the sidewalk selling nuts from a plastic bag.

An eerie combination indeed…but one that kind of sums up our present reality in a crazy sort of way. Perhaps the sales clerk was right. Who am I to judge?

The AGBU – one of the biggest Armenian money faucets around. I’m sure the bookstore sales clerk would have been overjoyed that her wish was coming true.

One thing for sure, the AGBU and other outside donor sources should demand a greater degree of accountability from the Armenian government to see that the money reaches its intended targets.

Maybe that ignorant sales clerk thought I was one of those rich AGBU types and she wanted to crack what she thought was a clever joke at my expense. If so, she’s doubly an asshole.

It’s just another sad commentary on the gulf that divides the realities of present-day Armenia and the global Diaspora.

Both sides have yet reached a point of mutual recognition.

Now the sales clerk in question evidently was aware of the 1915 Genocide, but for here it was just another tragic page in the history of the Armenian people. That’s to say it’s not an integral part of her personal identity, of who she is and where she comes from. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have used it as a reference for jokes.

I just wonder how many others think like her when they walk up the hill to the Tzitzernakapert Genocide Memorial and Eternal Flame every April 24th.

Please tell me I’m paranoid. Please tell me that we, as a nation, can overcome the stereotypes on both sides of the divide and reach some common understanding as to how we can cooperate and build a better Armenia for us all.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Police Arrest Two Teens in Attempted Yerevan Store Robbery
  2. Film on Armenian Genocide Wins Praise in Germany, Outrages the Turks
  3. Swiss Court Backs Initial Ruling of Swiss-Turks Convicted of Armenian Genocide Denial
  4. Leading Muslim Cleric Issued Fatwa, Condemning Turks for Killing Armenians
  5. Armenian genocide centennial commemoration commission begins its work

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Commentary

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

Image 32562.jpg

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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