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Armenia’s business atmosphere ‘neither fine nor poor’ for SMEs – GIZ country rep

November 15, 2014 Armenia, Business, Diaspora No Comments
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It is still too early to evaluate the new government’s activities in the business sector, says Cornelia Skokov, Armenia Team Leader for the GIZ Private Sector Development’s South Caucasus program.
“We will continue the cooperation – as we did with the previous government – to improve the situation,” Skokov told Tert.am, pointing out to the permanent need to improve the business atmosphere for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
“The conditions for small and medium businesses are neither fine nor poor; they are normal,” he added.Skokov said he doesn’t think that big businesses are always an obstacle for SMEs. “There are many factors, ranging from consumers to managers, so all have to do with that,” he noted. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

Opposition Parties Differ On Dialogue With Government

November 15, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments

Leaders of Armenia’s three main opposition parties jointly challenging President Serzh Sarkisian cited on Friday different conditions for embarking on a dialogue with his administration.

Sarkisian implied earlier this week that such a dialogue could center on a list of 12 political and socioeconomic demands that were made by the Armenian National Congress (HAK), Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Zharangutyun (Heritage) parties earlier this year. He said he has told the Armenian government to “once again address that document.”

The most important of those opposition demands is the conduct of parliamentary elections only on a party-list basis and the introduction of more safeguards against vote rigging. Ruben Hakobian, Zharangutyun’s deputy chairman, said on Wednesday that the opposition trio will be ready for the dialogue if the authorities enact corresponding amendments to Armenia’s Electoral Code.

INGO ARMENIA launches new headquarters

November 14, 2014 Armenia, Business, Diaspora No Comments
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To ensure proximity to its customers, INGO ARMENIA has launched four new offices in different regions of Armenia.
According to a press release by the company, the headquarters are located in the towns of Artashat (Ararat region), Hrazdan (Kotayk region), Gavar (Gegharkunik) and Yeghegnadzor (Vayots Dzor).
The company thus seeks to be closer to not only the residents of regions but also those who travel for business or tourism. The statement says that it has remained faithful to the tradition of ensuring its presence in key areas to be more accessible to clients.
“We are going to open 10 more offices, and we expect that this year,” INGO ARMENIA CEO Levon Altunyan, adding that their headquaters’ number will thus top 30.

Yerevan mayor receives Lithuanian business delegation

November 13, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan received on Thursday a delegation of Lithuanian businessmen led by Lithuanian Ambassador to Armenia Erikas Petrikas.Mr Margaryan presented municipal improvements programs. The Yerevan Municipality attaches importance to joint projects with the private sector.“Serious steps to attract investments and improve the business environment are being made in Armenia’s capital. The Yerevan Municipality is willing to discuss specific cooperation programs and assist implementation,” he said.Ambassador Petrikas welcomed Mr Margaryan’s approaches to municipal management and assured him of Lithuania’s readiness to get involved in investment programs in Yerevan.“As regards efficient cooperation, a favorable investment environment has really been ensured in Yerevan, which is an excellent opportunity for joint projects. I can assure you, Mr Mayor, of our willingness and, within my authority, I will do my best for efficient cooperation between Yerevan and Vilnius and implementation of mutually beneficial projects with Lithuanian businessmen,” Mr Petrikas said.The sides also exchanged views on investment programs implemented by the Yerevan Municipality. 

New World Bank Loan To Support Armenian Reforms

November 13, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments

The World Bank announced on Thursday the release of a $75 million budgetary loan to the Armenian government that commits it to improving the domestic business environment and implementing broader economic reforms.

The Development Policy Operation loan, formally approved by the bank’s governing board in Washington late on Wednesday, will cover around one-third of Armenia’s state budget deficit projected for this year.

“The Operation is designed to support economic growth and sustainability to help Armenia reduce poverty and promote shared prosperity,” Laura Bailey, the head of the World Bank office in Yerevan, said in a statement. “Creating jobs is critical here in Armenia. The program aims to achieve this through strengthening competitiveness and enhancing fiscal, social and environmental sustainability.”

Prime Minister Claims Annual 25% Growth in Armenia’s IT Sector

November 13, 2014 Armenia, Business, Technology No Comments
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15:20, November 12, 2014

Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan today received Mario Mazzola, the Cisco Systems President for Business Development and Laureate of the 2014 Global IT Award of the President of the Republic of Armenia.

The prime minister congratulated Mazzola and stated that it was an honor for the Armenian government to recognize the achievements of one of the world’s most outstanding representatives of the IT (information technology) sector.

Abrahamyan revealed that strengthening the IT industry is one of the government’s top priorities in order to increase Armenia’s global competitiveness in the field. IT is the fastest growing sector in Armenia with a recorded annual growth of 20-25 percent and has the potential for additional gains.

Hasmik Harutyunyan: World Renowned Folk Singer Believes in the Power of Pure Music

November 12, 2014 Armenia, Business, Culture, Music No Comments
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00:42, November 11, 2014

Despite the international accolades, the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble doesn’t register on the Armenian government’s cultural radar

Hetq recently spoke to Hasmik Harutyunyan, an Armenian folk singer and the leading member of the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble, about the state of music in Armenia, her travels worldwide, and other interesting bits and pieces of her long and illustrious career to promote the true national music of Armenia.

Shoghaken’s Armenian Lullabies was recognized by the New York Times as an outstanding world music CD in 2004.

Hasmik, what is the plight of folk singers in Armenia today and what are the challenges they face?

Sarkisian Signals More Overtures To Opposition

November 10, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments

President Serzh Sarkisian said on Monday that he has told his government to again look into a list of political and socioeconomic demands that was issued to it by Armenia’s main opposition parties earlier this year.

Sarkisian made the announcement in his first public reaction to recent anti-government rallies that were held in Yerevan by three of those parties. Their leaders decried the state of affairs in the country and vowed to strive for “regime change.”

Commenting on the opposition statements in an interview with the official Armenpress news agency, Sarkisian cited the 12 demands which those parties formally presented to the government in June. He said he has urged Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian’s cabinet to “again address that document” and possibly set timetables for putting it into practice.

Ireland insists it can still be hi-tech hub despite axing ‘double Irish’ loophole

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As 22,000 tech entrepreneurs, inventors and investors converged on Dublin for the city’s Web Summit last week, one big question threatened to bring the whole digital bonanza down to earth, The Guardian reports.After the Ireland moved last month to close a lucrative tax loophole, former Apple chief executive John Sculley told the summit that the country risked losing the “edge” that has helped it become the European headquarters of US technology giants including Apple and Facebook. “There is a lot of talent in Ireland so I don’t think it will be an insurmountable problem but it will take the edge off, if tax advantages do go away,” he said.The “double Irish” scheme has allowed corporations to save billions by legally moving huge profits at their Irish bases to countries regarded as tax havens. It will be phased out following the 2015 budget – although Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed last week that firms already benefiting from the scheme could continue to operate it until 2020.At the summit – where speakers included Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, Dropbox founder Drew Houston and actor and angel investor Eva Longoria – bosses of the latest wave of hi-tech companies to come to Ireland were keen to play down the significance of Dublin’s move to end the scheme. Eight software, telecoms and digital media firms announced that they would create 400 new jobs in the republic.The boss of one of them, New Zealander Dr Jock Percy, whose Perseus Telecom provides fibre optics to connect major banks with stock exchanges, said he was encouraged that the Dublin government had decided to maintain its 12.5% corporate tax rate and planned new tax breaks for inventions and innovations minted in Ireland, like the UK’s “patent box” scheme.“Low corporation tax in Ireland is attractive but the double Irish was not even considered or planned for. Instead we were more interested in the fact that there are multilingual skilled workers in Ireland and a pro-business government,” said Percy, whose company’s main base is in Galway.“For us the introduction of a patent-box is much more valuable because our intellectual property, designs and software programs all belong here in Ireland. So getting tax relief for that is fantastic and we are looking forward to that coming in,” he said.Kenny told an audience at the summit that the country had “nothing to fear” from the end of the double Irish scheme. “The end of it will make our country even more attractive for foreign direct investment in the future and there is that transition period for companies already here up to 2020.”Richard Bruton, minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation also dismissed the concerns of Sculley, although he acknowledged the flak Ireland has taken over tax schemes in Brussels and Washington. “Clearly we understand that countries compete on a number of fronts and Ireland has always offered a competitive tax environment,” he said. “We know companies expect that and we will continue to compete very strongly but on a fair basis. There has to be a worldwide consensus to make taxation policy fair across the board.”The 12.5% corporate tax rate, Kenny and Bruton said, would be protected as a cornerstone of Irish fiscal policy.As Kenny and Bruton were speaking, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers signalled that the UK Treasury would decide within weeks if Northern Ireland could set its own corporation tax rate. She promised in a speech to Co-operation Ireland in Belfast that the administration would know soon whether London would hand over control.Political leaders in Stormont have looked on jealously as their southern neighbors continue to use low corporate taxes to attract foreign direct investment and want their own rate set at a level close to the republic’s.Villiers said London was taking the calls to devolve tax powers “very seriously”. It could be a move the republic’s Industrial Development Agency will have to take very seriously too. 

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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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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.