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Armenia Names Team For Baku Games

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The Armenian National Olympic Committee (ANOC) named on Tuesday 25 athletes who will represent Armenia at the upcoming European Games in Baku despite widespread security concerns that have led some of their teammates to boycott the multi-sport event.

The ANOC’s secretary general, Hrachya Rostomian, said they will compete in six sports, including boxing, shooting and various types of wrestling. “All of these athletes are ready to represent Armenia in Baku with honor just as they do in other countries,” he told a news conference. “We are aiming for a successful participation.”

The first-ever European Games slated for June 12-28 are expected to bring together some 6,000 athletes from around the continent.

Baku Blasts EU ‘Double Standards’ On Karabakh

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Azerbaijan on Monday criticized the European Union for failing to explicitly voice support for the restoration of Azerbaijani control over Nagorno-Karabakh during last week’s summit in Riga with six ex-Soviet republics.

An Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry statement confirmed Baku’s dissatisfaction with references to the Karabakh conflict made in the summit’s concluding declaration.

“By trying to draft a compromise text on conflicts affecting some [EU] partner states, the authors of the declaration could not avoid something which is called double standards in the international practice,” charged the statement cited by the Trend news agency. “Azerbaijan expects the EU to express a clear and explicit position on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

Sarkisian Lauds Germany Over Armenian Genocide Recognition

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President Serzh Sarkisian thanked Germany’s leaders for recognizing the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey when he met with Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Riga late on Thursday.

In a statement, Sarkisian’s office said the two discussed Armenia’s relations with the EU and Germany in particular as well as international efforts to broker a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It said they also touched upon recent officials ceremonies around the world, including in Berlin, that marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian massacres in the Ottoman Empire.

“President Serzh Sarkisian expressed gratitude to Germany’s authorities for their position on the condemnation of the Armenian genocide,” added the statement.

Azerbaijan Objects To EU Summit Statement Over Karabakh

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Azerbaijan nearly vetoed on Friday a joint declaration adopted at the European Union’s latest summit with six ex-Soviet states because of the wording of its references to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, who represented his country at the summit held in Riga, reportedly stormed out of its concluding session that discussed the text drafted by EU officials. News reports from the Latvian capital said Mammadyarov demanded changes relating to the Karabakh dispute.

The 13-page declaration calls for the resolution of ethnic and territorial disputes in the former Soviet Union “on the basis of the principles and norms of international law.” It expresses “full support to the mediation efforts by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including at the level of [U.S., Russian and French] Presidents and their statements since 2009.”

Armenia To Avoid Anti-Russian Statements At EU Summit

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Armenia has reportedly refused to join in any condemnation of Russia’s annexation of Crimea at this week’s summit in Riga of the European Union and six former Soviet republics involved in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program.

The two-day summit, which began its work on Thursday evening, is due to adopt by consensus a concluding declaration on the EU’s ongoing efforts to deepen links with its ex-Soviet neighbors. Senior diplomats from the participating nations met in Brussels earlier this week to discuss a preliminary text drafted by EU officials.

The Reuters news agency quoted unnamed EU diplomats as saying that Armenia and Belarus objected to language in the draft that called Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula illegal. As a result, the diplomats said, the EU will come up with a compromise text that will note the EU’s condemnation of the Crimean situation.

Armenian Military Vows ‘Restraint’ During Baku Games

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The Armenian military will do its best to prevent a fresh upsurge of fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone during the upcoming European Games in Baku, Armenia’s First Deputy Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan said on Tuesday.

Tonoyan also warned Azerbaijan against escalating tensions along the “line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border after the Olympic-style games scheduled for June 12-28.

“Olympic games will be held in Baku and Armenian forces will display restraint until their end,” he told Tert.am in an interview. “They are already showing restraint now, which is evident and visible. We are not provoking [skirmishes] or escalating the situation.”

Armenian, Georgian PMs Meet After South Ossetia Controversy

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Prime Ministers Hovik Abrahamian of Armenia and Irakli Gharibashvili of Georgia met in Batumi over the weekend for talks which their offices said focused on bilateral economic ties.

Abrahamian travelled to the Georgian Black Sea city two weeks after official Tbilisi protested against Armenian parliament speaker Galust Sahakian’s meeting with a leader of South Ossetia, a breakaway Georgian region.

Sahakian and Anatoly Bibilov met early this month during their separate visits to Nagorno-Karabakh. Sahakian downplayed their short conversation as “private” and impromptu.

The explanation did not satisfy the Georgian government, which condemned the contact with the representative of what it regards as an “occupational regime” installed by Russia. The Armenian ambassador in Tbilisi was summoned to the Georgian Foreign Ministry and warned of “damage to bilateral relations” on May 4.

Azeri, Turkish Troops Hold More Drills

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The Turkish and Azerbaijani armies began on Tuesday fresh joint military exercises in Azerbaijan highlighting their growing cooperation.

A statement by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry cited by local news agencies said the five-day exercises are taking place in Baku and the Nakhichevan exclave surrounded by Armenia, Iran and Turkey. It said they will be watched later this week by Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov and General Umit Dundar, the commander of the Turkish Third Army deployed near Turkey’s borders with Armenia and Georgia.

The statement added that the drills are aimed at boosting “friendship, cooperation and coordination” between the armed forces of the two allied countries. It said nothing about the number of troops and military hardware involved in them.

Armenian Concerns Over Russian-Azeri Arms Deals ‘Addressed’

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Russia is addressing serious concerns that have been voiced by Armenia about its large-scale sales of offensive weapons to Azerbaijan, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian implied on Thursday.

Ohanian stressed in that context the importance of Russian military aid to Armenia, saying that it is continuing unabated. “Very important [Russian-Armenian] documents signed recently also ensure our progress in the military-technical area,” he told reporters.

“Of course we periodically express concerns [about Russian weapons sales to Azerbaijan.] I think that is resulting in a situation where all that is kept under control,” he added.

Ohanian did not clarify whether this means that Moscow is planning no more major arms deals with Baku.

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Featured Books

Book Reviews

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

Gray Wolves and White Doves cover art

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

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

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

New Children’s Picture Book From Armenian Folklore

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

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

“We Need To Lift The Armenian Taboo”

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

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

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

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

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

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

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

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

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

Commentary

Capitalism Run Amok Is Just Plain Capitalism

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16:37, January 17, 2015

By Markar Melkonian

The source of Armenia’s misery and humiliation, we often hear, is not capitalism per se, but rather “gangster capitalism,” “a broken system,” “capitalism run amok.”

The goal for the future, then, is to “fix the system,” to reform capitalism, to make it more like regular, pure, genuine Free Enterprise, the kind of capitalism that works. But what if Armenia’s actually existing capitalism already is genuine capitalism?

An economist once observed that the only existential meaning of “enterprise” in the term free enterprise is “whatever capitalists happen to be doing at the time”–and “free” is the accompanying demand that they be allowed to do it.

Ukraine: Cops Go After Casinos, Suggest Yanukovych Connection

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21:45, December 15, 2014

Ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs has launched a campaign against illegal casinos amid fears that a large network of underground gambling dens could be providing an income source for the son of the country’s disgraced former president Viktor Yanukovych.

The new crackdown on unlawful casinos – an ongoing scourge for law enforcement agencies in Ukraine since regulation was made stiffer with a 2009 law – was launched on Dec. 8 after an announcement on Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov’s official Facebook page.

Avakov, who keeps a lively and occasionally angry Facebook commentary on current affairs, pledged to put a complete stop to the establishments within ten days; first in the capital of Kyiv, then the rest of the nation.

Yerevan Calling: A Weekly Roundup of Random Musings from Armenia

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13:05, October 3, 2014

Here it is dear readers, the debut of a weekly column I hope to maintain on a regular basis.

It’s sort of a catch-all of news snippets, irreverent commentary, and personal observations on what’s happened during the week here in Yerevan, and throughout Armenia.. Hopefully, you’ll find it interesting, if not slightly diverting.

Your comments and suggestions are welcomed.

Regards – Hrant

Oct. 2 – Protests Throughout Armenia: A Game of Numbers & Solidarity

Three separate protest rallies took place in Armenia today.

As Hetq reported earlier, business owners in the town of Sevan kept their stores and factories shut to protest changes to the so-called volume (sales) tax. Local residents flocked to the bread factory to wait on line for a loaf or two.

China: President Takes Action Against High Ranking Corrupt Officials

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21:31, July 30, 2014

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

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

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

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

Armenian Gangs: Caught between an Archetype and a Cliché

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19:15, July 12, 2014

By Marineh Khachadour

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

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