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EU Launches New Support Program For Armenia

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Over the next three years, the European Union will provide between €140 and € 170 million to Armenia for private sector, public administration and justice reforms, it emerged on Monday.

The relevant Memorandum of Understanding launching the Single Support Framework for EU support to Armenia was signed in Brussels by newly appointed Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, and Armenian Minister of Economy Karen Chshmaritian.

On the first official working day in his new competence as Commissioner, Hahn stated: “The EU and Armenia are committed to continuing cooperation in areas of mutual interest based on shared values. We support the country’s modernization efforts and we will continue encouraging necessary reforms in Armenia.”

Minister Lidington: UK Regards Armenia as Important Partner

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13:31, November 3, 2014

David Lidington, the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Europe, met with Armenia Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian and discussed options to further strengthen political, commerce and business ties between the two countries.

The two ministers agree that for such ties to expand Armenia must first take steps to improve and strengthen the efficacy of its legal sector.

Minister Lidington said that the United Kingdom regards Armenia as an important partner in the region and that his visit is aimed at reinvigorating cooperation between London and Yerevan.

Nalbandian described the efforts of Armenia and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs to peacefully resolve the Karabakh conflict and, in turn, Lidington said that Great Britain supported this process.

European growth as elusive as quicksilver

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Data from both sides of the Atlantic will give clues in the coming week on just how bad the euro zone economy is and just how sustainable is its U.S. counterpart, Reuters reports. Europe offers a rate meeting from the European Central Bank and a new slate of economic forecasts; the United States will release its influential monthly jobs data.Purchasing manager indexes for the past month will also show how businesses see things shaping up in the United States and Europe. One for China’s has already come in lower than expected.For many, the ECB meeting on Thursday will be the main money event – despite the fact that it is not likely to be one of action or suspense.As usual, the attention will be on ECB President Mario Draghi’s nuances at the news conference that follows the likely non-move on rates. When it comes to the ECB, the news is often all about the journey rather than the destination.This week’s inflation data let the ECB off the hook on taking any immediate additional action to combat the threat of deflation.At 0.4 percent in October, inflation is worryingly slight, but it is higher than it was a month earlier.ECB policymakers are also in no rush to move on to something new when they have not yet seen how their targeted loans and purchases of asset-backed securities are doing.Many in financial markets would like to see the ECB move to a full quantitative easing (QE) asset-buying program like the one the U.S. Federal Reserve has just closed. But as these words from ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny suggest, it is not likely.”I don’t think we should be pushed by the markets to produce a new program at every meeting we have.”The bank will also be looking at the U.S. Federal Reserve’s ending of QE and relatively hawkish tone for some spillover succour.The euro is down more than 1.5 percent against the dollar since the Fed meeting on Wednesday, and down more than 10 percent since May.A weaker euro not only boosts euro zone exports, it imports inflation, both of which the ECB wants to see.The nuance being sought on Thursday, however, will be whether there is any momentum towards full QE and how German opposition could be overcome.The ECB has been throwing money in various ways at the euro zone economy for a long time but dynamic growth has proved as elusive as quicksilver.This is expected to be underlined by the purchasing manager indexes. The euro zone’s manufacturing is sitting just a tad above stagnation. Data has been very lackluster.”October’s … business and consumer survey suggests that the euro-zone economy got off to a weak start in Q4, after broadly stagnating in Q3,” Capital Economics said in a note.Mid-week, the European Commission will give its latest economic forecasts and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development will issue its on the G20 economies ahead of a meeting of the group. 

Getting Armenia on the Dental Tourism Map? Three Young Visionaries Argue It’s Possible

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00:03, October 31, 2014

Dental tourism in Armenia?

The idea doesn’t sound too far-fetched in the minds of three young men from Armenia. In fact, they argue that Armenia can make its mark in this field if the venture is approached with some proper planning and financing.

Two of the budding entrepreneurs, 22 year-old Gor Hovakimyan and Artur Gasparyan, got the chance to study overseas with a Luys Foundation scholarship.

Gor studied at the London University College, receiving a Masters in Economics and Business. He’s since returned to Armenia.

It was Artur who came up with the idea while studying at Zurich University. He’s now in Canada.

IMF country rep praises collaboration with Armenian Government

October 31, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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The International Monetary Fund’s resident representative in Armenia hails the Government’s efforts towards combating shadow economy and ensuring equality for businesses.
At a news conference on Friday, Teresa Daban Sanchez said she finds that activities in that direction require a specific strategy to facilitate future work.
She said that the IMF collaborates with the Government to encourage special tax policies for businessmen with high income.
Considering cooperation with small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) very important, Sanchez further stressed the importance of adopting special measures to relieve the tax burden of small businesses.
She said she has the Armenian Government’s resoluteness to reduce shadow economy since her very first day in the country, adding that the organization continues the collaboration to translate plans into action. 

Ruling Party Wants ‘Specific’ Examples Of ‘Forced’ Business Acquisition

October 31, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has urged an opposition leader to cite at least one specific example of a business being seized or partly acquired through force after an allegation made by him in a recent interview.

Talking to Zham.am on Thursday, Prosperous Armenia Party head Gagik Tsarukian, in particular, called for putting an end to “the tradition of individuals using their positions to seize a share of another individual’s business”. Tsarukian, who himself is a wealthy businessman, did not name names.

HHK parliamentary faction head Vahram Baghdasarian on Friday categorically denied any such practice in Armenia, calling on those who know concrete cases to report them.

Former Armenian Deputy PM Appointed Head of IDeA Foundation

October 30, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Business, Diaspora No Comments
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12:28, October 30, 2014

Armen Gevorgyan is appointed the new Head of IDeA Foundation (Initiatives for Development of Armenia) set up by philanthropist and businessman Ruben Vardanyan and his wife Veronika Zonabend. 

“IDeA Foundation implements large-scale charity initiatives for Armenia, Artsakh and Armenian Diaspora which are aimed at creating conditions for worthy future of the Armenian people. We have many projects which are in various stages of implementation and we also have many new ideas and programs. I am convinced that Armen Gevorgyan has all the necessary traits to consistently put our projects into practice”, said Ruben Vardanyan.

Armenian Airline Blames Russian Agency For Flight Suspension

October 30, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Business, Top News No Comments
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Armenia’s only air carrier has suspended commercial flights in all directions for about two months, blaming a Russian navigation service for the situation.

Air Armenia, which began operating commercial passenger flights in 2013 after the bankruptcy and liquidation of Armavia, signaled its inability to continue its regular services due to financial difficulties.  

In a press release late on Wednesday the company claimed the situation resulted from a ‘panic’ among investors and customers after a statement made by Rosaeronavigatsia, a Russian federal air navigation service, about the Armenian airline’s outstanding debts.

In its statement on September 11 Rosaeronavigatsia warned that it would ban Air Armenia from operating flights to Russian cities unless the Armenian company repaid its debts by September 21.

Tsarukian Signals ‘No Retreat’ In Anti-Government Campaign

October 30, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian has given another strong indication of his intention to seek a change of power in Armenia as he spoke about “no way back” in his latest interview published on Thursday.

“I have no way back, so we will go as far as it takes to change the situation,” Tsarukian told Zham.am.

In his first remarks after the October 24 rally of the BHK and its two more radical opposition allies, the Armenian National Congress and Heritage, Tsarukian again spoke about “change of government”, but, just like it was before, he did not set any deadlines to the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). Nor did he explicitly demand President Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation.

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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

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.