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Romania: Forest Agency, Officials Investigated For Corruption

October 22, 2014 Armenia, Business, Culture No Comments
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21:21, October 22, 2014

The Romanian Anti-Corruption Office (DNA) raided offices and businesses connected to the Romanian state forest authority, Romsilva, on Oct. 15 over allegations of bribery and corruption.

Those under investigation include Adam Craciunescu, the head of Romsilva, and Ilie Sarbu, the former Minister of Agriculture and father-in-law to Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

At issue are allegations that the accused helped sell forest lands fraudulently re-appropriated after the fall of Communism. Romanian law states individuals can reclaim ownership to forest if they can provide certain inheritance documents, but the system has been plagued with large-scale fraud.

France Looks Forward To Armenian-Azeri Summit

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France’s President Francois Hollande will try to revive the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process when he hosts fresh talks between his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts in Paris early next week, the French ambassador in Yerevan said on Wednesday.

Henri Reynaud said the French government expects the upcoming summit to “give new impetus in the substantive sense” to the long-running search for a compromise solution to the Karabakh conflict. It also hopes that Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev will agree on confidence-building measures that will boost “stability on the frontline” around Karabakh and along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, he told a news conference.

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UK: Police Intercept Stolen Cars At Ports

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17:17, October 21, 2014

In ports across the United Kingdom, shipping containers may conceal stolen vehicles destined for other countries. A recent operation by British authorities seized many of these vehicles before they could be smuggled overseas.

A crackdown codenamed “Operation Toyer” recovered 44 high-end vehicles and SUVs, including BMWs, Range Rovers, Audis, and a Porsche Cayenne. The haul also included Scania trucks and a Komatsu hydraulic excavator, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Police said the vehicles were destined for Africa, Cyprus, France, the USA, Malaysia and Burma. The stolen goods, which also included a container of parts from 29 stolen BMWs, were worth nearly US$ 2 million.

Designer Oscar de la Renta dies aged 82

October 21, 2014 Arts, Diaspora No Comments
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US fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, who dressed former first ladies Jackie Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, has died aged 82, his family has confirmed, the BBC reports. De La Renta, who most recently designed Amal Clooney’s wedding dress, was diagnosed with cancer in 2006.Born in the Dominican Republic in 1932, he left home at 18 to study painting in Madrid, Spain.He soon developed a love of fashion design and began an apprenticeship with Spain’s designer Cristobal Balenciaga.De la Renta made his name in the early 1960s when the then first lady, Jackie Kennedy, frequently wore his designs. He launched his own label several years later.Over the following decades he dressed nearly every first lady up to and including Michelle Obama, who he once chided for not wearing American designers.Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush all opted for De la Renta gowns.Laura Bush described the designer as “the man who made women look and feel beautiful”.Mrs Obama eventually made her first appearance in one of his dresses at a White House reception in October.At a ceremony honoring the designer this year, Hillary Clinton heaped praise upon De la Renta.”This man has been working for more than 20 years to turn me into a fashion icon,” she said.De la Renta rose to further prominence after being chosen by Amal Alamuddin to design the gown for her wedding to George Clooney.”George and I wanted a wedding that was romantic and elegant, and I can’t imagine anyone more able than Oscar to capture this mood in a dress,” Mrs Clooney told Vogue.”Meeting him made the design process all the more magical, as he is so warm and such a gentleman.”De la Renta passed away at his home in Connecticut, reports say. The cause of his death was not immediately clear, although he had been diagnosed with cancer.His stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolan said in a statement that De la Renta had passed away surrounded by family and friends and “more than a few dogs”.”While our hearts are broken by the idea of life without Oscar, he is still very much with us,” the statement said.”All that we have done, and all that we will do, is informed by his values and his spirit.” 

PFA Issues a Statement Regarding Police Action Against a Prominent Activist, Alec Yenigomshian

October 21, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Diaspora No Comments
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10:43, October 21, 2014

Policy Forum Armenia condemns in strongest possible terms the brutal treatment of Alec Yenigomshian, a blind political activist, by police in downtown Yerevan on October 19, 2014. According to media reports, Yenigomshian was forced out of a car and left standing on a busy section of a street despite his numerous warnings that he cannot see, while the car and its driver were taken into custody.

We urge human rights organizations and our partners in Armenia to help identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable and stand ready to assist. Police brutality in Armenia should end. These and other politically motivated repressions against prominent activists will not diminish our people’s resolve to bring down the regime in Yerevan and put Armenia on a path to development and progress.

Armenia, Georgia To Hold Trade Talks

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Armenia and Georgia will hold trade negotiations next month to iron out possible contradictions between their new commitments to a Russian-led bloc and the European Union respectively, a senior Georgian diplomat said on Monday.

Tengiz Sharmanashvili, the Georgian ambassador in Yerevan, pointed to Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the recent entry into force of Georgia’s Association Agreement with the EU envisaging a “deep and comprehensive free trade area.”

“There are some details that need to be clarified,” Sharmanashvili told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Georgia’s economy minister [Giorgi Kvirikashvili] will arrive in Yerevan on November 11-12 so that we review all those issues.”

Taksim is ‘world’s ugliest square,’ Turkish PM says

October 20, 2014 Armenia, Culture, Turkey No Comments
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Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has described Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square as “the world’s ugliest square,” the Hurriyet Daily News reports. “If anyone tells me that Taksim is a perfect square, then I would tell him that it is the world’s ugliest square,” Davutoğlu told a group of journalists aboard the prime ministerial ANA aircraft, returning to Ankara from an official trip to the northern province of Amasya on Oct. 19.“I know about the squares in Venice and in Isfahan … After seeing them, you feel yourself in a vacuum on Taksim Square,” he added, also labeling both Taksim’s Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM) and neighboring hotel as “ugly.”Davutoğlu referred to groups who he said “abused the Taksim problem,” while touching on to issue of urbanization in Istanbul.The government’s controversial Taksim pedestrianization project had triggered widespread protests in May 2013 and was cancelled by Turkey’s Council of State earlier this year. The project for the politically-charged square involved the razing of the adjacent Gezi Park to be replaced by a rebuilt Ottoman-era Artillery Barracks.“Taksim Square was not gradually developed as a culture, unlike in Venice and Isfahan. Incidentally, if Taksim had not been formed and a military barracks had not been built there, there wouldn’t even be a square,” Davutoğlu also said, adding that an Armenian cemetery had been located in the area in the past.“I would say the barracks should not have been demolished in the first place. Although not pretty, they displayed the architecture of the time. But now, should the building be rebuilt after it was demolished? Not necessarily. These are matters that can be debated,” he said.Davutoğlu also referred to the “Bloody Labor Day” demonstrations of 1977, in which more than 30 people died in a stampede in Taksim Square triggered by gunfire by assailants who remain unidentified. “This square shouldn’t be turned into a temple now because May Day happened there,” he said.Amid ongoing concerns about Istanbul’s chronic urbanization and infrastructure problems, Davutoğlu stressing that he had instructed the related departments to not “allow the corruption of urban texture due to commercial interests.”Click here to check our list of the Top 5 Politically Charged Squares in Istanbul.
 

Matera declared 2019 European Capital of Culture

October 18, 2014 Culture, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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The selection panel of independent experts responsible for assessing the Italian cities competing to be European Capital of Culture in 2019 has recommended that Matera should be awarded the title.The other five cities short-listed after the initial pre-selection round in November 2013 were Cagliari, Lecce, Perugia, Ravenna and Siena. The formal designation of Matera by the EU’s Council of Ministers is expected to take place next year, the European Commission says in a press release.
Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for culture, stated: “I congratulate Matera on its successful bid. The competition for the title in Italy was one of the strongest ever, with 21 initial contenders narrowed down to six finalists. This number is a testimony of the immense popularity of this European Union initiative. I am confident that Matera will attract more visitors from Europe and all over the world to discover the city, its history and the cultural diversity which is one of strengths of our continent. I am convinced that the title will bring Matera and its surrounding area significant long-term cultural, economic and social benefits, as we have seen with previous European Capitals of Culture.” 

Impressions of Armenia – The Moscow Times (photo set)

October 18, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Diaspora, Europe, Film, Music No Comments
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A photo set published by The Moscow Times has fixed episodes featuring recent developments in Armenia.
The pictures, taken in different parts of the country, are presented below:

A police officer walks along central Yerevan’s Victory Bridge — named after the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany — that crosses the Armenian capital Yerevan’s Hrazdan River.

A young man shows his support for Armenia’s national football team in central Yerevan before a European Championship qualifying match against Serbia.
A musician looks out the window of a bus carrying the members of a brass band to their next destination.

Young boys gratefully drink from the water fountains on Yerevan’s central Republic Square.A woman is seen preparing dolmas (stuffed cabbage rolls)
Khorovats (the Armenian word for barbecue ) prepared on large skewers for meat, vegetable and even fruit dishes

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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.