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Turkey’s Erdogan Appeals To Armenians

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered on Wednesday first-ever condolences to the descendants of some 1.5 million Armenians massacred in the Ottoman Empire during World War I, signaling a further softening of Turkey’s decades-long genocide denial.
 
“The incidents of the First World War are our shared pain,” Erdogan said in a landmark statement issued ahead of the 99th anniversary of the genocide that will be marked by Armenians around the world on Thursday.
 
“It is our hope and belief that the peoples of an ancient and unique geography, who share similar customs and manners will be able to talk to each other about the past with maturity and to remember together their losses in a decent manner.

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Watchdog Condemns Azeri Treason Charges Against Journalist

Armenian News

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned authorities in Baku for charging a prominent Azerbaijani journalist with high treason over allegations that he spied for Armenia. 

The Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General’s Office said on Monday that Rauf Mirkadyrov “was recruited by the Armenian secret services in 2008 and supplied Yerevan with information on Azerbaijan’s state secrets.”

In a statement, the CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Nina Ognianova, called on Azerbaijani authorities “to drop these trumped-up charges and stop abusing the law to silence independent reporting on the country.” She said Azerbaijan is “quickly becoming one of the leading jailers of journalists in the Eurasia region.”

Abrahamian Meets Opposition MPs On Pension Reform

April 22, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Asia, Top News No Comments
Armenian News

Armenia – Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian (L) meets with members of a pressure group demonstrating in Yerevan against a controversial pension reform, 18Apr2014.

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U.S. Congressional Delegation to Visit Armenia

April 22, 2014 Armenia, Azerbaijan No Comments
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18:43, April 22, 2014

From April 23-26, a U.S. Congressional delegation including Congressman Ed Royce (R-California), Congressman Eliot Engel (D-New York), Congressman David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), and Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-Florida) will visit Armenia.

The delegation will meet with a broad range of interlocutors in the executive branch and members of the National Assembly, as well as with civil society activists and political analysts. Other visits will include a meeting with the Catholicos at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, a tour of the Armenian National Engineering Laboratory (ANEL) and a discussion with the American Chamber of Commerce. The delegation will participate in the Armenian Remembrance Day commemoration in Yerevan on April 24.

Azeri Journalist Jailed For ‘Spying For Armenia’

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Azerbaijan – Political analyst and journalist Rauf Mirkadyrov.

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A prominent Azerbaijani journalist and political analyst has been deported from Turkey and arrested in Azerbaijan on charges of high treason reportedly stemming from his repeated trips to Armenia.

Armenia’s positions in Nagorno-Karabakh peace process remain strong – opinions

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Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s remarks on Armenian-Turkish protocols have evoked varied responses among Armenian politicians and political scientists.Tert.am interviewed Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies Ruben Safrastyan, expert in Turkic studies Artak Shakaryan and Vice-Chairman of the Heritage party Armen Martirosyan about their opinions of the president’s remarks having to do with the political situation in Armenia.Ruben Safrastyan does not think the Armenian president’s remarks have to do with domestic political processes.“It may have something in common with foreign political developments in the future, but I do not think it stems from the domestic political situation,” he said.Mr Safrastyan agrees with the president’s remark that Armenia’s positions in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process remain strong.“If we see that our positions in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process remain strong, and Azerbaijan is more and more often resorting to militant rhetoric, heightening border tensions, it means our positions are really strong, and this is the reason for Azerbaijan seeking to torpedo the negotiations as it sees the process is not in its interests,” the expert said.Turkey’s efforts to get the role of mediator are failing. Many nations clearly see that Turkey cannot act as mediator because it is supporting Azerbaijan.Heritage party Vice-Chairman Armen Martirosyan believes that the Armenian president’s statement has to do with domestic political relations, apart from external signals.In some respects he agrees with the president’s statement, while in others he does not.“Indeed, the border tensions are increasing, and the fact is that, Armenia’s relatively balanced foreign policy has ensures an alignment of forces on the foreign policy front so that we are not faced with a problem of lost territories. Well aware of that, Azerbaijan is resorting to blackmail and heightening tensions,” he said.According to Mr Martirosyan, balance is regularly disturbed.“I mean the Turkey-Azerbaijan alliance. They are even speaking of creating joined armed forces. Regrettably, Armenia’s foreign policy, particularly the Armenian-Turkish protocols, legalized Turkey’s actions,” he said.With respect to the points he does not agree with, Mr Martirosyan said that it is common knowledge that Turkey is ready to re-open its border with Armenia if the Armenian side cedes two regions to Azerbaijan.“Therefore, the Armenian-Turkish protocols immediately involve Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh]. Some of the points could be applied to Artsakh’s detriment,” he said.According to Mr Martirosyan, the Armenian-Turkish protocols will cause damage to the process of recognition of the Armenian Genocide.“I do not think that our struggle is only for the US Senate to recognize the Armenian Genocide.”According to him, the Armenian authorities are well aware that it is not in Armenia’s interests. So they did not ratify the protocols.Expert in Turkic studies Artak Shakaryan noted that nothing can be said for certain. In any case, he agrees that the protocols were a solution back in 2008-2009.“Official Yerevan made a step back thus placing the responsibility for the failure of the protocols on Ankara,” he said.Mr Shakaryan agrees with the Armenian president’s opinion that Armenia did not let the world think that official Ankara is not responsible for the absence of Armenian-Turkish relations.Despite Turkey pretending to be neutral in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, it will support Azerbaijan when necessary, the expert said. 

Drilling begins for continent-connecting road tunnel in Istanbul

April 20, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Ground has been broken for the Eurasia tunnel, another mega government project that will connect the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, with a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan over the weekend, the Hurriyet Daily News reports. The prime minister inaugurated the boring of the Eurasia Tunnel Project at Istanbul’s Haydarpaşa Loading Port on April 19, saying the scheme would shorten the existing 100-minute cross-strait journey time to 15 minutes.The tunnel boring machine, known as TBM, began carving out the route for the tunnel that will be a sibling to the existing Marmaray, and will connect the Asian and European sides of the Istanbul Strait via a road tunnel going under the Marmara Sea.“There are four such tunnels in New York that enable a sub-sea passage for light vehicles; one in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and another similar highway tunnel in France. We are now bringing in the most modern and developed road tunnel to Istanbul,” the prime minister said.Erdoğan said that once the Eurasia Tunnel was completed, Istanbul would have four road crossings between the two continents, including The Bosphorus Bridge, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and the Marmaray.“Hopefully, the suffering known as ‘bridge traffic’ will become a thing of the past,” he said.Erdoğan said the tunnel boring machine will advance 10 meters a day on average from the Asian side to the European one.The Eurasia Tunnel, the foundations of which were cast on Feb. 26, 2011, will operate between Kazlıçeşme and Göztepe route where vehicle traffic is the most intense in Istanbul, and will cover a total of 14.6 kilometers.The tunnel has been designed for use only by light vehicles such as cars and minibuses.Heavier vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians will not be permitted to use the tunnel.While 5.4 kilometers of the project will comprise a two-story tunnel to be constructed underneath the seabed, expansion and improvement works are to be carried out over 9.2 kilometers of roads on the European and Asian sides.Access roads between Sarayburnu and Kazlıçeşme and Harem and Göztepe will also be enlarged, while vehicle underpasses and pedestrian overpasses will also be constructed.Not only will the travel time for Istanbul’s highly congested traffic decline, but it will also become safer and more comfortable, officials claiming, adding that it will also contribute to the reduction of environmental and noise pollution.
 

Armenia not to sign Customs Union accession agreement on April 29, says acting minister

April 18, 2014 Armenia, Asia No Comments
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Armenia will not sign the agreement on joining the Customs Union (CU) of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan on April 29, acting Economy Minister Vahram Avanesyan told reporters on Friday.

Thus, he denied the information about the tentative date of the signing spread by media the previous day.

According to Avanesyan, the last meeting of the working group set up for the implementation of the roadmap on Armenia’s accession to the CU is scheduled for April 25. The working group is to sum up the results of the work done.

“Depending on the results of this meeting the working group will present its position at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council on April 29,” said the official, adding that the meeting to be attended by the heads of state of Armenia, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will make a decision regarding Armenia’s membership.

Sarkisian Again Defends Turkish-Armenian Accords

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Armenia – President Serzh Sarkisian examines an Armenian-made rifle during a visit to the Defense Ministry in Yerevan, 18Apr2014.

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President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday again defended his administration’s 2009 normalization agreements with Turkey against strong criticism voiced in Armenia and especially its worldwide Diaspora.

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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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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.

Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments

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2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.

Heritage reshuffle: Postanjyan becomes new leader of parliamentary faction

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Zaruhi Postanjyan has been elected new head of the opposition Heritage faction in parliament. The change comes after Ruben Hakobyan announced his decision to resign as faction leader earlier today.

Talking to media in parliament Hakobyan said Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian had been notified about his move well in advance. He left questions about reasons for his step without commentary, only saying that he had decided to step down as faction leader before the recent scandal around Postanjyan in the wake of her controversial question to President Serzh Sargsyan about his gambling habit at the PACE plenary session in Strasbourg on October 2.