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Armenian MPs undecided about EEU deal as ratification vote nears

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The Treaty on Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is to be submitted to the National Assembly for ratification within 1.5 months after its signing (under the Law on International Treaties). Though he parliamentary factions have repeatedly stated their opinions on the deal since President Serzh Sargsyan’s landmark statement (made in September last year), Tert.am has tried to once again clarify positions from different political forces ahead of the voting.
Prosperous Armenia
This political faction’s secretary, Naira Zohrabyan, says they cannot have a position on a document they haven’t ever seen. “When it comes to the National Assembly for a debate and we see to what extent that document reflects our concerns, the faction will express its position. I don’t think any faction or political force can express an objective opinion on a document it hasn’t seen.”
Zohrabyan referred to the concerns over the problematic issue of a customs checkpoint between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and the risks stemming from the increased customs duties on over 800 categories of goods. She said they are hopeful to hear exhaustive answers at the parliamentary debates.
Zohrabyan added that the 36-member faction has not yet reached consensus, adding that they are planning a new discussion ahead of the voting to develop common approaches.
Asked what their party’s leader thinks about the deal, the Prosperous Armenia secretary simply replied, “Mr [Gagik] Tsarukyan will express his position.”
Armenian National Congress (ANC)
The faction’s leader, Levon Zurabyan, refrained from expressing any opinion when contacted by our correspondent for comments. Former Military Prosecutor Gagik Jhangiryan, who also represents this political force at the National Assembly, said they will decide on their position after the document is on the parliament’s agenda.
At the opposition’s rally earlier this month, first President and current ANC leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan described the EEU accession process as an irreversible development.
Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Dashnaksutyun (ARF-D)
This faction’s leader, Armen Rustamyan, gave a somewhat welcoming remark when asked about the deal. “Dashnaksutyun always has its decisions, which are not of conceptual importance; they aren’t easily changed or reconsidered unlike those of [other individuals] and some political forces.”
As for the concerns over a possible customs checkpoint with Nagorno-Karabakh, Rustamyan said he thinks that the party would really feel embarrassed if that scenario were realistic. “That document will be brought [to parliament]. And you will see it says nothing of the kind,” he told our correspondent.
Heritage
The faction’s secretary, Tevan Poghosyan, said he expect their lawmakers to reach a consensus before the voting.
“I have several times heard [Heritage faction leader Ruben] Hakobyan say that Armenia should not be a member in any union, considering the conflict situations,” he said.
The remark suggests that the other Heritage members support an association deal with the EU, with the faction’s leader being against both the Eurasian and European integration processes.
Alexander Arzumanyan, a former foreign minister who is formally affiliated with this faction, says he has no other choice but to vote against.
Speaking to Tert.am, the politician said he doesn’t expect members of the ruling Republican faction to vote against the deal in a surprise move. “I can only guess that Heritage will vote against; as for the othera, judging by the rally, both the ANC and Prosperous Armenia are proponents. But it still remains to be seen,” he told our correspondent.
Rule of Law
Heghine Bisharyan, who heads this political faction, said she thinks they first need to see the treaty before saying anything for or against.
“As you see, the press is flooded with different negative opinions forecasting market surges. The major difficulty is, of course, the fact that we do not share borders with the EEU member states and have no idea as to our possible advantages. I am optimistic about it even though the negative is highlighted more. So let us simply try to listen to the opinions,” she added.
Republican
Koryun Nahapetyan, who represents the ruling political faction in parliament, says he expects their lawmakers to develop their common positions after talks with a government representative.
“The document hasn’t been submitted yet; once it is, the corresponding committee and the Republican faction will organize debates,” he told Tert.am.

Corruption and monopolies remain greatest evil in Armenia’s economy – MP

October 22, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Karabakh No Comments
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Secretary of the Armenian National Congress (ANC) parliamentary group Aram Manukyan proposed a draft by three political forces in Armenia’s Parliament.
The three non-coalition forces proposed their draft, but the parliamentary majority rejected it.
“Corruption and monopolies remain the greatest evil in Armenia’s economy and governance system. Armenian and international organization confirm this,” Mr Manukyan said.
“As a result, as many as 213,000 people emigrated from Armenia during the last four years. This policy of ‘initiatives’ damaged Armenia’s international reputation and international organizations make decisions that weaken Nagorno-Karabakh’s positions,” he said.

Source: TertOriginial Article

Iran Hopes For Armenian Involvement In ‘Fight Against Terrorism’

October 20, 2014 Armenia, Karabakh, Top News No Comments
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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani spoke of “bright prospects” for deepening Armenian-Iranian relations and called on Armenia to join the Islamic Republic in fighting against “terrorism” in the broader region during talks with Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian in Tehran on Monday.

In an apparent reference to Islamic State (ISIL) militants in Syria and Iraq, Rouhani was reported to denounce “terrorists targeting civilizations and humanity” and indiscriminately killing both Christians and Muslims.

“He said Iran and Armenia and all regional states should join forces to fight terrorism because security in the region will become sustainable only through collective cooperation,” reported the official IRNA news agency. “He said security is a non-dividable category and if a country suffers from terrorism, other countries will suffer too.”

Armenia’s Membership in the EEU: Raises More Questions Than It Answers

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19:01, October 17, 2014

Babken Der Grigorian

In response to Harut Sassounian’s article “The West Must Offer Armenia Incentives Rather than Decry its Ties with Russia 

Upon reading Harut Sassounian’s latest article “The West Must Offer Armenia Incentives Rather than Decry its Ties with Russia”, I have been compelled to write a response addressing its shortcomings and inaccuracies, increasingly common also within the broader narratives regarding Armenia’s accession into the EEU in the Armenian community.

On September 3, 2013, after Armenia completed nearly three years of negotiations with the European Union on an Association Agreement, which included years of European-funded legislative reforms, President Serzh Sargsyan was summoned to Moscow for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Opposition Party Condemns Eurasian Union Entry

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The opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party of Raffi Hovannisian on Friday officially condemned as Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) which was formalized by President Serzh Sarkisian on October 10.

Zharangutyun claimed that membership in the Russian-led bloc will pose a “most serious threat” to Armenia’s independence and put at risk continued Armenian control over Nagorno-Karabakh. It said Sarkisian had no mandate to sign an “unconstitutional” accession treaty with his Russian, Kazakh and Belarusian counterparts at an EEU summit in Minsk.

“The deplorable efforts of the republic’s regime to compel Armenia’s accession to the EEU … aim merely to maneuver and perpetuate his illegitimate personal power obtained through falsification of the past elections,” charged the statement. “It is quite clear that Mr. Sarkisian, who has usurped power through unjust elections, is not authorized to sign any agreement or undertake any obligation on behalf of the people of Armenia.”

Anti-Government Activists Sentenced

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Karabakh, Top News No Comments
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A court in Yerevan on Friday handed prison sentences ranging from 1 to 7 years to a prominent political activist and 11 other men who were arrested while clashing with riot police during a violent anti-government demonstration last year.

Another, 15-year-old defendant, who avoided pre-trial arrest, received a suspended 4-year sentence on the same charges of “hooliganism” which Armenian human rights campaigners and some opposition groups regard as politically motivated.

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Armenia – Activist Shant Harutiunian and his 15-year-old son Shahen stand trial on what they consider politically motivated charges, Yerevan, 8Sep2014.

The defendants led by Shant Harutiunian, a veteran nationalist activist, were among several dozen protesters who tried to march towards President Serzh Sarkisian’s offices in what their flamboyant leader called a “revolution of values.” Police used force to stop the crowd armed with sticks and homemade stun grenades from approaching the presidential palace after rallying in Yerevan’s Liberty Square to denounce a government which they consider corrupt and undemocratic.

Polish Defense Firm Inaugurates Joint Venture In Armenia

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In a further boost to Polish-Armenian military cooperation, the Armenian Defense Ministry and a Polish defense company inaugurated on Thursday a joint venture in Armenia manufacturing protective equipment for armed forces.

The Lubawa-Armenia enterprise was officially launched in Charentsavan, a small town 40 kilometers north of Yerevan, in the presence of Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, his former Polish counterpart Bodgan Klich and senior defense industry executives from the two states.

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Armenia – Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian inspects a flak jacket manufactured by a Polish-Armenian joint venture in Charentsavan, 16Oct2014.

The company will use the technology and expertise of Poland’s Lubawa SA group to produce a range of protective gear such as army helmets, flak jackets, big and inflatable tents, camouflage netting and decoys. Ohanian was reported to say that these items will be supplied to the armed forces of not only Armenia but also other nations, possibly including members of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.

Karabakh Armenian Army Warns Azerbaijan

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Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian-backed armed forces threatened late on Tuesday to respond strongly to what they called a sharp rise in ceasefire violations by Azerbaijani forces deployed near the disputed territory.

“In recent days violations of the ceasefire regime have quadrupled,” the Karabakh Defense Ministry said in a statement issued one day after one of its soldiers was shot and wounded at a southern section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” around Karabakh.

The statement urged Azerbaijan to “take steps to stabilize the situation on the line of contact.” “In case of a further escalation of the situation on the frontline the Defense Army will take all necessary measures to silence the enemy,” it said without elaborating.

Missing in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: ICRC reports progress

October 15, 2014 Armenia, Karabakh No Comments
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Over 4,000 people are considered missing as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and some progress has lately been recorded in the field, Zara Amatouni of the Yerevan office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told Tert.am.“The ICRC’s mission is independent and impartial. We are acting as mediators when repatriation is in question. I can say we are satisfied with the cooperation in the region,” she said.“Many issues arousing public concern are part of confidential dialogue and not open to the public,” Ms Amatouni said. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

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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.

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Commentary

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.

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

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.