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Radical Opposition Group Schedules Nonstop Protests

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A radical Armenian opposition group said on Thursday that it will launch on April 24 a campaign of nonstop street protests in Yerevan aimed at forcing President Serzh Sarkisian to step down.

The start of the campaign planned by the Founding Parliament movement is timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey, which will be marked by high-profile official ceremonies. Scores of foreign dignitaries, including the presidents of France and Russia, are expected to arrive in Armenia on the occasion.

Zhirayr Sefilian, the Founding Parliament leader, said he and his political associates will rally supporters immediately after visiting the genocide memorial in Yerevan. “We are talking about around-the-clock rallies,” he told reporters. “We will tell the people to return home after we manage to get rid of this regime.”

Armenia Recognizes Greek, Assyrian Genocides

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Armenia formally recognized the First World War-era mass killings of Assyrians and Greeks in the Ottoman Empire as genocide with a resolution unanimously passed by its parliament on Tuesday.

“The National Assembly of Armenia declares that it condemns the genocide of Greeks and Assyrians perpetrated in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1923,” reads the resolution co-sponsored by the main parliamentary factions.

The document says that the widely documented massacres conformed to the definition of genocide set by a 1948 United Nations convention. It also cites “centuries-old friendly relations between the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian peoples.”

Ohanian Visits Karabakh After Deadly Fighting

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Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian met with the commanders of Nagorno-Karabakh’s armed force and inspected the scene of their latest deadly firefight with Azerbaijani forces during a weekend trip to the territory.

Ohanian travelled to Karabakh on Saturday two days after three Armenian soldiers were killed and four others wounded while reportedly fighting back an Azerbaijani attack on their positions in the northern Martakert district.

The Karabakh Defense Army claimed to have killed at least 10 Azerbaijani troops in what was the most serious instance of ceasefire violation in the Karabakh conflict zone since August. The Azerbaijani military denied launching commando raids or suffering any casualties in the area on Thursday, however.

Armenia To Host More CSTO Drills

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The head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) visited Yerevan on Monday for a second time in less than two months to discuss preparations for military exercises which the Russian-led defense pact will hold in Armenia this year.

According to official Armenian sources, the issue topped the agenda of Nikolay Bordyuzha’s talks with President Serzh Sarkisian and Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian. They gave no dates for the annual exercises codenamed “Indestructible Brotherhood.”

The most recent CSTO drills took place in Kyrgyzstan in July-August last year. They involved about 1,000 troops from the six ex-Soviet states aligned in the bloc: Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Aliyev Again Vows Return Of ‘Historic Azeri Lands’ In Armenia

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President Ilham Aliyev again declared on Thursday that Azerbaijan will eventual gain control over not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also Yerevan and other “historic Azerbaijani lands” in Armenia.

“The Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be settled only within the framework of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territorial integrity,” Aliyev said in a speech delivered during celebrations of Nowruz, a public holiday marking the ancient Persian New Year.

“After that we will return to our ancient lands — to Yerevan, Geychay and Zangezur,” he said. “These are our historic lands. The young generation must know that that our lands are not confined to the territory of modern-day Azerbaijan.”

Sarkisian Repeats Concerns Over Russian Arms Sales To Azerbaijan

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President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday voiced fresh concerns about large-scale deliveries of Russian weapons to Azerbaijan, saying that they could damage the traditionally close Russian-Armenian relations.

“The fact that Russia sells weapons to Azerbaijan for various reasons worries us,” Sarkisian told an international media forum held in Yerevan.

“The problem here is not the quality of the sold weapons,” he said during a question-and-answer session that followed his speech at the gathering. “The problem is that the young Armenian man deployed on our border [with Azerbaijan] or the [Nagorno-Karabakh] Line of Contact realizes that they are trying to kill him with Russian weapons. This is the gravest thing.”

Address by Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian at the Euronest PA Committee on Politicial Affairs, Human Rights and Democracy

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17:17, March 16, 2015

Dear Members of Parliaments,

I thank you for this opportunity to address the Committee on Political Affairs, Human Rights and Democracy of the Parliamentary Assembly of Euronest.

Armenia highly appreciates comprehensive and multilayer cooperation with the European Union in such areas as democracy, the rule of law, protection of fundamental freedoms, joint programs on sustainable development and good governess, etc. Great importance is attached to the parliamentary dimension of this cooperation. 

Dear Members of Parliaments,

German Party Leader Urges Turkey To Normalize Ties With Armenia

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An ethnic Turk leading a major German political party urged Turkey to unconditionally establish diplomatic relations and open its border with Armenia as he ended a visit to Yerevan on Monday.

Cem Ozdemir, the co-chairman of the Alliance ‘90/The Greens party, also predicted that Ankara will eventually recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

“I think Turkey will do that sooner or later,” Ozdemir told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in an interview. “It’s a matter of time. I don’t know when it will happen. But I’m sure one day it will happen.”

“I don’t see a reason why Turkish leaders could not show that courage,” he said. “It’s not about the past. It’s about the future. Addressing the past opens the path towards the future.”

Armenia Again Blames Azerbaijan For Karabakh Escalation

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Armenia has again accused Azerbaijan of the recent escalation of violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, condemning Baku’s “targeting civilian areas, including with the use of heavy weaponry.”

Addressing the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) during its special meeting in Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian drew the attention of the delegates to the “unprecedented high number of casualties” among all parties to the conflict in 2014, the year that marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the ceasefire agreement that put an end to hostilities in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. 

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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.