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Ruling Party Defends Controversial Appointment

September 26, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News 1 Comment
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The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) on Friday defended the government’s decision to reinstate a notorious regional governor which has prompted outrage from the Armenian opposition, media and human rights campaigners.

Razmik Zohrabian, an HHK chairman, argued that investigators have found no evidence implicating Suren Khachatrian in a high-profile murder that was committed in June 2013 just outside his home in Goris, a town in the southeastern Syunik province which he has governed for much of the past decade.

“After that incident in Goris he resigned so that the investigators and the court could determine who is guilty and who is not,” Zohrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Ex-Governor Regains Job Lost After Murder

September 25, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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The Armenian governor reappointed a man notorious for violent conduct as governor of the southeastern Syunik province on Thursday more than one year after he was forced to resign following a high-profile murder committed outside his private residence.

Suren Khachatrian’s appointment was formally proposed by Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian and approved by his cabinet at its weekly session in Yerevan. “Mr. Khachatrian, we congratulate and wish you productive work,” said Abrahamian. He gave no reasons for the move which was almost certainly sanctioned by President Serzh Sarkisian.

Justice Minister Hovannes Manukian categorically refused to comment on Khachatrian’s reappointment at a news briefing held after the cabinet meeting. Manukian urged reporters to change the subject and stormed out after they kept pressing him.

Traders Again Rally Against New Tax Rules

September 25, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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Hundreds of small traders again rallied outside the main government building in Yerevan on Thursday to protest again new taxation rules which they believe will spell ruin for them if they are enforced by the authorities.

At issue is a recently enacted government bill which lowered from 3.5 percent to just 1 percent the rate of a single turnover tax levied from small Armenian businesses with an annual revenue of up to 58 million drams ($140,000). It also requires those entities to provide tax authorities with documentary evidence of all of their transactions with larger suppliers.

In particular, they have to produce receipts for goods purchased by them from wholesale traders. Failure to do so would make them liable for hefty fines.

New Sales Tax Angers Merchants, In Protest, They Close Down Major Yerevan Thoroughfare

September 24, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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14:57, September 23, 2014

Hundreds of merchants took to the street in Yerevan to voice their opposition to a new “turnover tax” they claim will kill off small and medium sized businesses.

The tax, which takes effect on October 1, sets new tax rates for various types of income for commercial enterprises and private entrepreneurs with sales turnover of less than 58.35 million AMD per year.

Protestors gathered outside the Government Building and demanded to see the prime minister.

A few spokesmen for the protesters were allowed inside and relayed their grievances to the prime minister.

 

Upon exiting the building, they told the crowd that the government suggested that each individual opposed to the new law should write a complaint and hand in it.

Dutch electronics giant Philips plans to split business

September 23, 2014 Arts, Business, Diaspora No Comments
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Dutch electronics giant Philips has said it is planning to split the company in two, separating its lighting business from its healthcare division, the BBC reports.
Both companies will continue to be based in the Netherlands and use the Philips name, it said in a statement.
Philips has been streamlining its business by selling off underperforming parts of the business in recent years.
Chief executive Frans van Houten said the move was meant to prepare the company for “the next century”.
“I do appreciate the magnitude of the decision we are taking, but the time is right to take the next strategic step for Philips, as we continue on our transformation,” he said.
“Both companies will be able to make the appropriate investments to boost growth and drive profitability, ultimately generating significantly more value for our customers, employees and shareholders”.
Philips, which began as a lighting company back in 1891, said the separation would make it easier for the lighting business to enter new markets.
It also said it would consider “various options for alternative ownership structures” for the lighting arm, meaning it could potentially be sold or listed separately on the stock market.
Mr van Houten said separating the two divisions would cost it 50m euros (39m) a year until 2016, but by 2016 he expected the split to save it about 300m euros.
The firm also warned that legal costs as well as “softness in multiple markets” meant its operating profit for the second half of the year would be lower than the same period last year.

Armenia’s premier receives Kuwaiti parliamentary delegation

September 19, 2014 Armenia, Business, Culture, Diaspora No Comments
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Armenia’s Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan received a Kuwaiti parliamentary delegation led by Head of the Kuwaiti-Armenian parliamentary friendship group Faisal Al Shaya.Armenia’s premier welcomed the guests and highlighted the development of Armenian-Kuwaiti relations.
“Armenia’s government is interested in expanding the bilateral trade and economic ties and in implementing different investment projects. We are ready to create favorable conditions for Kuwaiti capital,” Mr Abrahamyan said.
Mr Faisal Al Shaya conveyed the Kuwaiti premier’s greetings and invitation to visit Kuwait to Armenia’s premier. According to him, mutual visits will give new impetus to Armenian-Kuwaiti cooperation. Mr Faisal Al Shaya stressed Kuwait’s interest in developing the bilateral trade and economic ties. In this context, he stressed the need for closer cooperation between the Armenian and Kuwaiti Chambers of Commerce in organizing business forums.
The sides were unanimous on great potential for cooperation in agriculture, industry, tourism and other areas. They also stressed the importance of launching direct flights.
Mr Faisal Al Shaya stated that Kuwait is ready to support the construction of the New Aleppo district.

Karabakh’s Healthcare Minister Encourages Armenian Diaspora to Come Work in Country’s Medical Industry

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18:46, September 16, 2014

Former healthcare minister of the Republic of Armenia Harutyun Kushkyan on March 14 this year was appointed the healthcare minister of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. Hetq spoke to the minister about the state of Karabakh’s healthcare sector and involving the Armenian diaspora to come work in Karabakh for several months and train staff.

You’ve been minister for six months now. If we were to classify the problems in Karabakh’s healthcare sector, what would they be?

The first is personnel — we need to replenish their numbers and increase their qualifications.

The other is organizational issues, beginning from the ministry. It’s not bad, but it needs to be better. It’s work with the population, preventative work.

Pro-Opposition Tycoon Downbeat On Economy

September 18, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Business, Top News No Comments
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A prominent Armenian businessman sympathetic to the opposition on Thursday offered a grim assessment of the economic situation in Armenia and said that it will not improve without a “change of the political system.”

Khachatur Sukiasian claimed that the existing system precludes a breakup of de facto economic monopolies which he said is needed for the country’s sustainable economic development.

“The Armenian economy is in crisis,” Sukiasian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I don’t trust in this 4.1 percent growth and other growth figures [reported by the government.]”

“The monopolies are certainly having a very bad impact,” he said in an interview. “I think that is one of the main problems. First of all, in terms of creating an atmosphere. Secondly, in terms of confidence. You need a lot of confidence to invest in a country.

ECB bank-funding program sees low take-up

September 18, 2014 Business, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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A European Central Bank measure designed to stimulate the flagging eurozone economy has seen a low initial take-up by banks, the BBC reports. The cheap loans for European banks have been designed to encourage lending to business.But out of total loans of 400bn euros (£315bn) available on Thursday, only 82.6bn was taken up by 255 banks.However, banks may be waiting for separate ECB measures due in October, analysts said.Cheap loans to banks were part of a package announced in June designed to support lending and the economy.The loans – called “targeted longer-term refinancing operations” (TLTROs) – see the banks pay 0.15% annual interest for up to four years.Money market traders had been expecting banks to take up between 100bn and 200bn euros of TLTROs this week, with further interest in December, when banks get a second chance to apply for the cash.Banks may be wary of taking up the loans before imminent ECB-led health-checks of the banking sector, said Karel Lannoo, chief executive of Brussels think tank the Centre for European Policy Studies.”The European financial sector continues to be weak,” said Mr Lannoo. “”There may be a stigma because the markets are waiting for the AQR (asset quality review) in a few weeks.”However, banks may be waiting for details of a separate ECB programme to buy asset-backed securities, which are due out in October.”We would warn about drawing too strong conclusions from the September round,” said ABN Amro analyst Nick Kounis. 

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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.