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Karabakh Mediators On New Regional Tour

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International mediators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) continued their efforts to promote a peaceful solution to the protracted conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh as they paid fresh visits to Azerbaijan and Armenia this week.

On the second stop of their regional tour in Yerevan on Tuesday, the United States, French and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group met with the country’s leadership, including President Serzh Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.

While the mediators appeared to have brought no new proposals with them to the region, Ambassador James Warlick, the American representative in the group, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun) that their tour was “another opportunity to talk”.

Sarkisian, Tsarukian Reportedly Meet Amid Domestic Political Tension

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Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and his former coalition partner and current top critic Gagik Tsarukian are said to have met on Tuesday less than a week after “completely” falling out over the domestic political process.

The information about the meeting of the two was confirmed to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun) by Aghvan Vartanian, a senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), which appears to have mediated the talks. Vartanian did not report any details of the meeting that was not confirmed by either Sarkisian’s or Tsarukian’s offices as of Tuesday evening.

Another ARF leader Armen Rustamian only voiced cautious optimism, saying that “ice is melting”.

Armenia’s Official Position on 1915 Genocide: Ter-Petrosyan Calls For Face to Face Meeting with Sargsyan

February 17, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Asia, Karabakh, Turkey No Comments
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15:00, February 17, 2015

Levon Ter-Petrosyan has called for a one on one meeting with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan to personally convey his concerns regarding the recently issued Pan-Armenian Proclamation on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

The proclamation was drafted by a state commemorative organizing committee and Ter-Petrosyan argues that the body has overstepped its authority by claiming that it speaks for the “united will” of all Armenians.

Armenia’s first president also argues that given that the proclamation was addressed to the international community it would have been imbued with greater gravitas and legal-political significance had it been signed by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and church ;eaders rather than some faceless committee.

Nuland In Azerbaijan At Start Of Caucasus Tour

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The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland has arrived in Azerbaijan on the first leg of her South Caucasus tour.

Nuland told journalists in Baku on February 17 that her talks with President Ilham Aliyev focused on bilateral ties and the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh.

Nuland added that she would talk about the release of two Azerbaijanis held in Nagorno-Karabakh during her meetings with Armenian officials in Yerevan on February 18.

Foreign Minister of Armenia met Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia

February 16, 2015 Armenia, Georgia, Karabakh No Comments
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18:18, February 16, 2015

On February 16, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian met the Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia Davit Usupashvili, who pays an official visit to Yerevan. 

Welcoming the guest, Minister Nalbandian commended the positive dynamic of the friendly Armenian-Georgian relations, stressing that active inter-parliamentary contacts play an important role in the strengthening of strong inter-state ties. Edward Nalbandian expressed confidence that Davit Usupashvili’s visit will give a new impetus to bilateral cooperation.

Foreign Minister of Armenia stated that it is symbolic that Armenian parliamentarians are included in the delegation, headed by the Speaker of Parliament of Georgia.

Expressing gratitude for the reception, the Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia highlighted, that Georgia attaches great importance to the further expansion of cooperation with Armenia, based on centuries-old friendship between two peoples.

Ex-Leader Warns Government Against Political Reprisals

February 16, 2015 Armenia, Karabakh, Top News No Comments
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Former Armenian President Robert Kocharian believes the government still has the option of reconsidering its crackdown against the opposition and returning to the “political dimension” of dealing with its critics.

In an interview with his unofficial website, 2rd.am, published on Monday, Kocharian, who led the country in 1998-2008, commented on the internal political developments of recent days triggered by his successor Serzh Sarkisian’s blistering attack on Gagik Tsarukian, a tycoon and politician who has emerged as a key opposition figure in recent months.

At a February 12 meeting of senior members of his ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), Sarkisian lashed out at his former coalition partner in a speech full of derogatory descriptions of Tsarukian. He, in particular, described the leader of the second largest parliamentary party, Prosperous Armenia (BHK), as an ignorant and illiterate man and effectively called for his exclusion from the political process.

Yerevan Hopes For U.S. Presence At Genocide Commemoration

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President Serzh Sarkisian has expressed hope that senior U.S. officials will visit Armenia on April 24 to attend official commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, the new U.S. ambassador in Yerevan said on Friday.

The envoy, Richard Mills, held his first news conference at the U.S. Embassy after handing his credentials to Sarkisian. He met with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian on Thursday.

Mills said both Sarkisian and Nalbandian stressed the importance of high-level U.S. presence at the official ceremonies in Yerevan that will mark the genocide centenary. “I will convey that to Washington,” he said.

Sarkisian’s office confirmed that the upcoming centenary commemorations were on the agenda of the meeting with Mills. But it gave no details.

Opposition Group Vows Another Campaign Trip To Karabakh

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The leader of a radical Armenian opposition group said on Wednesday that he and his associates will again try to stage a rally in Nagorno-Karabakh despite being forcibly barred from entering the territory on January 31.

Zhirayr Sefilian again condemned the Karabakh police for attacking a procession of about 30 cars carrying members of his Founding Parliament movement.

More than two dozen of them, including Sefilian, were injured despite apparently not attempting to break through the police cordon on Armenia’s border with the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). Many of their cars were vandalized by police officers even as they sped away from the scene.

Contemporary Genocide Play to Debut in New York City in April

February 10, 2015 Armenia, Diaspora, Karabakh, Music No Comments
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15:28, February 10, 2015

While the Armenian Genocide occurred a century ago, descendants of victims are still grappling with the consequences of this historic calamity and what the hundred year mark means to them and to the future of the Armenian nation and diaspora.

These issues are explored in the play, “From Sacred Wrath,” which will be performed on April 18, 2015 and April 19, 2015 at The Davenport Theatre in New York City.

The story centers around the Armenian-American Khatchadourian family, who shares mixed emotions as the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide approaches: a grandmother who is unable to share her story of survival, as she is still traumatized by her escape; a young woman who forges ties to a Turkish journalist much to the chagrin of her patriotic father, and a brother, who vows to fight for the future of his homeland by enlisting in the Nagorno Karabakh Defense Army.

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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.