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Armenia unconditionally heading to Eurasian Union – ex-parliamentarian

September 22, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Karabakh No Comments
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Armenia is making confident strides towards the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) while the other members of the bloc are looking for ways to separate from Russia, says a former parliament member.
“The Customs Union and the Eurasian Union can be considered a single political bloc built on economic foundations,” Hovhannes Igityan, the former head of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Relations, told a debate in Yerevan, commenting on the advantages and disadvantages of Armenia’s Eurasian integration.
Addressing the western powers’ sanctions against Russia, the former parliamentarian said he believes that the country seeks to foster cooperation with allies – Belarus and Kazakhstan – in an attempt to demonstrate that it isn’t alone in the current battle. He described Kazakh President Norsultan Nazarbaev’s recent statement (saying that the country will leave the bloc should the membership turn out to fly in the face of its interests) as a good proof that the country will not interfere in the developments in Russia and Ukraine, being more concerned of the sanctions’ impact on its own economy.
Commenting on possible impacts on Armenia, Igityan said he finds that the authorities themselves have to seek an answer to that question given the country’s dependence on Russia in energy and investment projects, and natural gas services.
Asked how the EEU membership will influence Armenia’s future cooperation with the World Bank or European states (with which there are agreements), Igityan said he sees that the country has already made considerable concessions, with the unsettled Nagorno-Karabakh conflict still standing high on the political agenda. “Did Serzh Sargsyan resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh security issue with his September 3 [2013] decision or did the issue switch over to another sphere from the [OSCE] Minsk Group to become a concern for Russia?” he asked.
Speaking further, the Civil Society Institute’s board chairman, Artak Kirakosyan, said he doesn’t think the EEU membership is an economic process for an idea-centered country like Russia.
“Our judiciary suffers from the same ailments as does Russia’s, with convictions targeting the phenomenon rather than the human being,” he noted.
Kirakosyan said he is concerned that decisions in Armenia are often made without wide debates. “Economically, Armenia is of no interest to either Russia nor Europe,” he said.

US welcomes release of Turkish hostages

September 21, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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The United States welcomed on Sept. 20 the release of nearly 50 Turkish hostages held by extremists in Iraq since June.“We welcome their release and are pleased they will soon be reunited with their families,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement sent to Anadolu Agency.Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the 49 hostages who were held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul were freed and brought back to Turkey early Sept. 20.They were kidnapped from the Turkish consulate in Mosul on June 11, a day after ISIL took control of Iraq’s second-largest city.

Source: TertOriginial Article

Pope Francis Visits Albania

September 21, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Pope Francis is in Albania for his first visit to a European country outside of Italy, Voice of America reports.The leader of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics will celebrate Mass in Mother Teresa square in Tirana, the capital, during his day-long trip Sunday. He will also meet with Albanian President Bujar Nishani and is scheduled to visit orphans.Francis said on the plane to Albania that the tiny nation has “succeeded in finding peace” between different religions.Albania is a former communist state and is now a model of Christian-Muslim co-existence.Large portraits of Catholic priests and nuns who were persecuted under communism have been hung on the boulevards leading to Mother Teresa Square.The revival of Catholicism in Albania is due in part to the popularity of Mother Teresa, who was born in what is now Macedonia, but had Albanian origins. 

Nagorno-Karabakh president congratulates Armenian counterpart on 23rd anniversary of Armenia’s independence

September 21, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Diaspora No Comments
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President Bako Sahakyan sent a congratulatory letter to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in connection with the 23rd anniversary of the Republic of Armenia’s Independence.The letter runs as follows:”Respected Mr Sargsyan,I cordially congratulate You and the whole our nation on the Independence Day.September 21 is a historic and memorial day in the life of all the Armenians. It was marked as the revival of the Armenian statehood for the sake of which our people had been struggling for a long time. The aspiration to manage their own destiny themselves, live freely and independently in their native soil always accompanied our ancestors, became an ultimate goal and the only way to maintain national identity and survive.It is already 23 years since we have been embarked on this path overcoming all the difficulties on a nationwide basis and gaining glorious victories. These victories were achieved by means of incredible hardships and losses, which oblige us always be on alert and vigilant, continuously strengthen the independent Armenian statehood by joint efforts. Armenia and Artsakh constitute the Motherland for the entire Armenian people and their development and prosperity is a matter of honor and dignity for every Armenian.I am confident that due to the Armenia-Artsakh-Diaspora unshakable trinity we should be able to further solve the issues raised before our nation successfully and register new achievements and victories.I congratulate You and all our compatriots once again on the state holiday and wish peace, robust health and all the best for the well being of Mother Armenia and the Armenian people”. 

Haykakan Zhamanak: Kazakhstan to torpedo Armenia’s EEU deal?

September 20, 2014 Armenia, Asia No Comments
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The paper says it has learned from “well-informed sources” that Kazakh Foreign Ministry officials have informed Armenian and Russian colleagues of a possible delay in Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union.
Through diplomatic channels, they have reportedly said that they may not manage to finalize Armenia’s treaty until the scheduled date of October 10. They are said to have requested an additional five-day period to issue a final conclusion.
Such a statement, according to the paper, implies that Kazakhstan intends to torpedo Armenia’s membership process at the meeting in Minsk (Belarus).
Citing further its sources, the paper claims that Armenian diplomats have launched negotiations with representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry and Presidential Office. The latter have reportedly expressed their anger with Kazakh Foreign Minister Norsultan Nazarbaev’s conduct, saying that Russia is resolute on Armenia’s membership issue. 

Dink award winner says new Turkey is ‘scary place’

September 20, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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The Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) oft-quoted promise of a “new Turkey” is a scary place, where rights violations and threats against opponents are common, according to Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the winner of the International Hrant Dink Award and head of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV).
In an interview with Today’s Zaman, Fincanci shared her opinions about the government’s new slogan – “new Turkey.” She said: “The new Turkey rhetoric is very scary. This means new violations and more threats, and we are already seeing the signs of this. We know about the actions of this government that promotes the new Turkey. The new Turkey is about having crowds jeer at the mention of a mother who has lost her son.”
The TİHV head was referring to a rally speech by President Recep Tayyip Erdohan, who had his audience boo at the mention of the name Gülsüm Elvan, the mother of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan. Berkin died last year after being in a months-long coma that was caused by a tear gas canister being fired at him by the police during last year’s Gezi protests when he was out buying bread. The canister struck him in the head.
The International Hrant Dink Award was presented to Professor Fincancı on Sept. 15 – Hrant Dink’s birthday – for her activism regarding the plight of the Saturday Mothers, a group of women whose children disappeared while under state custody.
In response to a question about what she felt about the Dink award, Fincancı said: “I am flattered and humbled because I havebeen given an award that was earlier given to the Saturday Mothers. I am also a bit heartbroken. They are the ones who have suffered and are still suffering. What would our murdered brother [Dink] have done if he were with us at this time? I felt confused emotions that day.”
She also shared her opinions about the future of the murder trial of Hrant Dink, who was shot dead by an ultranationalist teenager outside the offices of the Turkish-Armenian Agos newspaper in İstanbul in January 2007.
“I don’t think the murder will be illuminated at this time. It looks like it will become one of the many trials that will be stonewalled with one trial after another. The course of the trial and the stance of the government on this issue indicates that. Temizöz’s release gives an idea about the future of the Hrant Dink trial.” 
Read more here>>>

Southern Gas Corridor strategic energy avenue for 21st century – Barroso

September 20, 2014 Armenia, Azerbaijan, Europe, Turkey, Video No Comments
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The Southern Gas Corridor will be a strategic energy avenue for 21st century, according to Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.“The Corridor is more than a pipeline. It will be a strategic energy avenue for the 21st century, a true geostrategic project,” the European official said at a groundbreaking ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Contract of the Century and the Southern Gas Corridor.“The Corridor is more than a pipeline. It will be a strategic energy avenue for the 21st century, a true geostrategic project,” he said in video message, according to Trend.az.Mr Barroso added Azerbaijan makes an important contribution to Europe’s oil imports today.“At the same time we are celebrating the progress made regarding the Southern Gas Corridor,” he noted.He added that the corridor, once completed, would stretch over 2,000 kilometers along the Caucasus and across Turkey – through Greece and Albania – and across the Adriatic, to connect the Caspian with the heart of EU. 

Saakashvili plots return to Brooklyn – NY Times

September 20, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Georgia No Comments
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By Jason HorowitzAt the Smorgasburg food fair in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Mikheil Saakashvili motored in fluorescent green sneakers among bearded men with tattoos and women in revealing overalls. They lined up for Cheese Pops,Dun-Well Doughnuts and other local delicacies.He ordered a fresh coconut.“My friend, one of the biggest sheikhs of the United Arab Emirates, gaveGeorgia 20,000 palm trees,” Mr Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, said as he dropped a straw in the machete-opened fruit and emptied its water with a few deep pulls. “As a personal gift.”Mr Saakashvili is in self-imposed exile on North Seventh Street — plotting a triumphant return, even as his steep fall from grace serves as a cautionary tale to the many American government officials who had hoped he would be a model exporter of democracy to former Soviet republics.Since leaving office last November, this George W Bush favorite — whose confrontation with President Vladimir V Putin of Russia led to a disastrous war in 2008 — has commandeered his uncle’s apartment in a tower on the Williamsburg waterfront, where he luxuriates in the neighborhood’s time-honored tradition of mysteriously sourced wealth. When not lingering in cafes, riding his bike across the bridge or spending stag evenings with friends on the Wythe Hotel rooftop, Mr Saakashvili seizes on the Ukrainian conflict and his experience with Mr Putin’s wrath as a lifeline back to political relevance.“It’s the end of Putin,” Mr. Saakashvili, 46, said of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the topic of discussion on Thursday as its president, Petro O. Poroshenko, met in Washington with President Obama and congressional leaders. Mr. Saakashvili called Mr. Putin’s actions “very, very similar” to those in Georgia. “I think he walked into trap.”But Mr Saakashvili, considerably plumper than when he was in power, argues that the conflict should also mark a reappraisal of his own reputation as a reckless leader whose peaceful Rose Revolution and commitment to reform were eclipsed by years of riding roughshod over opponents, bending the rule of law and provoking Mr Putin into a war that resulted in the death, displacement and impoverishment of thousands of Georgians. “It should be revisited,” he said.Mr Saakashvili said that while he had a “normal life” in Brooklyn, he considered himself a big deal in Eastern Europe, pointing out that on a recent trip to Albania “they shut down traffic for us and our 20-car escort.”Mr Saakashvili’s personal rehabilitation project is complicated by his eroded popularity back home and charges filed against him by Georgian prosecutors of human rights violations and embezzlement of government funds. He shrugs off the prosecutors as politically motivated puppets of his nemesis, the billionaire and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Some of Mr Saakashvili’s critics agree that the charges say as much about the current Georgian government’s hunger for revenge as they do about him.For now Mr Saakashvili is writing a memoir, delivering “very well-paid” speeches, helping start up a Washington-based think tank and visiting old boosters like Senator John McCain and Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state. He said he was in the process of changing his tourist status here to a work visa and in the meantime is enjoying the bars and cafes of his adopted homeland. On his roof deck, with sweeping views of Manhattan, he has entertained David H Petraeus, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and is expecting Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, at the end of the month. Usually, a cousin mans the grill, along with the chef from Fabbrica, the neighboring Italian restaurant opposite a CVS. Like those chain drugstores, glassy high-rises and Eurocentric nightclubs, Mr. Saakashvili is evidence of Williamsburg’s steady transition to a playground for moneyed out-of-towners.“I used to look at this place from Manhattan, it was such a pity, it was mafia, a place where hit men dump bodies,” he said, recalling his time in the 1990s as a Columbia University Law School student. Now he sees “a jazzy atmosphere” rife with energy and new construction.“Williamsburg is part of the democratic transformation,” he said. 
Read more on The New York Times website.

Nalbandian: Syrian-Armenians’ issue high on Government’s agenda

September 20, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora No Comments
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The situation of our compatriots in Syria has always been a key issue on the Government’s agenda, says Armenia’s foreign minister.
In his speech at the 5th Armenia-Diaspora Conference, Edward Nalbandian spoke particularly of the government’s attention to the security of Syrian-Armenians and the preservation of the Armenian cultural heritage in the country.
“Our activities focus on the developments in the regions that are in our direct neighborhood. I am aware that you have discussed the situation of the Syrian-Armenians who face a plight in the wake of the current crisis,” Armenpress reports him as saying.
Addressing the Islamic State’s violence against religious and ethnic minorities in Syria, Nalbandian said that Armenia’s Foreign Ministry has raised the question abroad and in international organizations in an effort to call for an international attention to the problem.
“With that purpose, the UN Council for Human Rights elaborated and adopted a corresponding resolution on September 1 with our participation,” Armenia’s top diplomat added. 

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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

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.

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.