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Kocharian Calls For Rule Of Law

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Former President Robert Kocharian has called for a radical improvement of Armenia’s business environment, saying that the authorities must break up economic monopolies, create a level playing field for all firms and tackle corruption.

In an interview with the Russian-Armenian newspaper “Noev Kovcheg” published on Friday, Kocharian also offered a grim outlook for the Armenian economy.

“Unfortunately, I see no internal and external causes for positive evaluations of the state and prospects of our economy. Furthermore, there have emerged new threats of global character, and the extent of their impact needs to be evaluated,” he said, pointing to Western economic sanctions against Russia which may well have knock-on effects on Armenia.

Armenia’s border communities need not only soldiers but also population – opinions

August 29, 2014 Armenia, Business, Diaspora No Comments
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The proposal to grant privileges to the population of Armenia’s border villages is being treated differently by different regional governors.
Rafik Grigoryan, the governor of the eastern region of Gegharkunik, says he strongly supports the legal measure initiated by the Government and the parliamentary political forces.
“The border villages do, of course, need any kind of assistance, but I think it would be right to treat the tax exemption and free economic zone concepts separately. It has to serve its purpose to prevent people from trying to evade taxes and encourage them instead to create jobs to strengthen the border not only with the help of soldiers but also residents,” he told Tert.am.
Asked whether he thinks that a villager today is capable of launching a private business, the regional governor admitted that the population in villages is not often skilled enough to be confident about the business’ future. “But a villager does not have to … Why don’t people come to make investments targeted at the border villages? Then the villagers will work with that business,” he noted.
The Gegharkunik governor pointed out particularly to the increasing birth rate in the region, noting that the trend shows positive signs for the future too.
Commenting on the issue, the governor Vayots Dzor, Edgar Ghazaryan, said he doesn’t think legislative solutions are necessary.
“We had internal debates in government, so our opinion was asked. I don’t think that we need a new law to be adopted, for example” he said.
Ghazaryan particularly highlighted the situation in Khachik, a border community where he said apartment-building problems always receive a due attention by the government.
As for business investments, the regional governor said any job creation project not related to agricultural manufacturing has been a private initiative not linked to the government policies.
The region has 13 border communities all of which have a permanent population.
Introducing the key concepts of the legal initiative, Vahram Baghdasaryan of the ruling Republican faction in parliament said the preliminary amount of assistance is within the range of 1-2 million US Dollars.
“It is still under discussion. The proposals we have sent contain two options: tax exemption or exemption from bills in general, free supply of textbooks and increased lump sum payments,” he explained.
As for the possibility of creating free economic zones, Baghdasaryan said he thinks that the budgetary resources need to be considered properly before deciding on such a plan.
The bill, signed by the four parliamentary factions, has been already submitted to the Government.
Baghdasaryan said he hopes that the measure will take effect until the debates for next year’s budgetary allocations.  

Op-Ed: No Criminal Investigation into Brawl Involving State Officials

August 28, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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14:32, August 28, 2014

Several people were taken to the Arabkir Police Division after an altercation at Charlotte Cabaret on Yerevan’s Marshal Baghramyan Avenue at 4:15 am on August 26.

Police confirmed the news of the incident. Arabkir’s experienced police chief, Grisha Amirkhanyan, decided not to launch a criminal investigation as there is no complainant.

Amirkhanyan didn’t launch a criminal case because he knows that participants of one side of the altercation are officials. Naturally, he reported this to his superior, Chief of Republic of Armenia Police Vladimir Gasparyan, who either agreed or instructed him not to launch criminal proceedings.

Samsung’s new necklace Strangest Tech Product of 2014

August 28, 2014 Business, Diaspora, Music No Comments
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After unveiling its Samsung Gear S smartwatch late last night, presented earphones that join together to form a necklace that vibrates when someone calls a user.
The Samsung Gear Circle can be paired with a smartphone to receive calls and listen to music, similar to existing high-end earphones and headsets. But one thing that is new about the headset is its magnetic locking system, which turns the earphones into a vibrating necklace when they’re not in use, Business Insider reports.
Pairing the Gear Circle to a smarpthone via Bluetooth will allow you to give voice commands and take calls using the headphones, which fit around your neck as a necklace when not in use.
See more on the Business Insider website. 

Armenian Prime Minister Declares Level Playing Field…But Wife’s Businesses Appear Exempt

August 28, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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15:42, August 27, 2014

ART City is the name of a two story supermarket in the village of Mrgavet in Armenia’s Ararat Province.

It is one of the many businesses that belong to the family of Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan.

The corporate entity that launched the supermarket is Artashat City Ltd. As of April, it is fully owned by the prime minister’s wife, Julieta Abrahamyan.

The supermarket is doing a booming business.

This reporter paid an investigative visit to the supermarket under the guise of regular customer. I brought a bottle of water to the sales clerk.

Hraparak: Hotel business thriving in Yerevan

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Hotel business continues thriving in Armenia’s capital despite the fact that the city seems to be overloaded with hotels as it is.
The paper says that several new hotels opened in Yerevan’’s Shiraki, Amiryan and Arami street in the past months. Citing its sources, it claims that the owner of the Hotel in Shriaki street is the brother-in-law of Bako Sahakyan, the Nagorno-Karabakh president. The other two hotels are said to be owned by Avetis Berberyan, an aide to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, and Arshak Mkhitaryan, a lawmaker of the Prosperous Armenia party.  

Source: TertOriginial Article

Opposition Demands ‘Not Met’

August 26, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Zharangutyun parties renewed their calls for President Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation on Tuesday, saying that he has failed to meet a list of their demands also backed by two other parties.

The HAK, Zharangutyun as well as the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) issued the 12 concrete demands addressed to the authorities in June. They said they will rally supporters in Yerevan in late September to discuss the government response and decide on “further joint actions.”

The four-party ultimatum includes a halt to a controversial pension reform, tax cuts for small businesses and a breakup of de facto economic monopolies. The document also demands the conduct of parliamentary elections only on a party-list basis and more safeguards against vote rigging.

Armenia imports over 1 ton of guanabana this year

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Armenia has imported over one ton of guanabana since January.
Speaking to Tert.am, a press secretary for the Agriculture Ministry’s State Food Security Service, Armine Sukiasyan, said a considerable part of the exotic fruit – one ton – came from Columbia; another six kilograms were imported from China.
Ashot Agaghabyan, a businessman MP affiliated with the ruling Republican faction in parliament, had earlier told the local daily Zhoghovurd that he had signed an exceptional agreement in Ecuador to facilitate the import of a guanabana additive that helps treat and prevent cancer and AIDS. The paper said that the fruit was first imported to Armenia by Artak Sargsyan, the owner of the supermarket chain SAS.
The market price of guanabana is within the range of 80-100 Drams/kg ($0.19-$0.24)
Guanabana is grown in Africa, South America and in tropical countries. 

Violent Student Leader Promoted By Government

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A pro-government youth activist who led fellow students attacking and verbally abusing journalists last December has been appointed as deputy head of one of Armenia’s leading state-run universities.

Sevak Khachatrian has until now headed the student council of the Armenian State Economics University (ASEU). He earned notoriety during violence that marred the granting of a controversial ASEU doctoral degree to Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian.

Markarian supposedly defended his dissertation on municipal business administration at a ceremony that was held behind the closed doors despite a legal requirement that such procedures must be open to the public and the media in particular. Journalists, among them an RFE/RL correspondent, were confronted by several dozen aggressive youths led by Khachatrian as they tried unsuccessfully to cover the event. The young men mocked, threatened and swore at the press corps during the scuffle.

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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.