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Spanish street artist Pejac brings his magic to Istanbul

October 23, 2014 Asia, Diaspora No Comments
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It is not an illusion – Pejac, one of the most creative contemporary street artists around, has recently paid a visit to Istanbul, leaving three wall paintings as proof.Known for his minimalist motifs frequently using optical illusions, Pejac displayed his talents by painting three different pieces on the walls of the Asian neighborhood of Üsküdar, which he gave the name “Lock, Poster and Shutters.”Pejac said in a press statement that the three windows intended to create a “perception and illusion of freedom,” art blog This is Colossal reported.“I have painted these Trompe l’oeil in the same zone of Üsküdar [on the Asian side of Istanbul], very close from one to another in order to establish a physical bond between them. ‘Trompe l’oeil’ literally translates from French to ‘eye trap.’ In the case of these three windows, the trap works in both directions: From outside to inside and from inside to outside,” he said in the statement.Often compared to Banksy for the originality of his work, he uses brushes, pencils, acrylic paint and sand paper to create pieces that blend into their surroundings. 

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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Armenian MPs undecided about EEU deal as ratification vote nears

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The Treaty on Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is to be submitted to the National Assembly for ratification within 1.5 months after its signing (under the Law on International Treaties). Though he parliamentary factions have repeatedly stated their opinions on the deal since President Serzh Sargsyan’s landmark statement (made in September last year), Tert.am has tried to once again clarify positions from different political forces ahead of the voting.
Prosperous Armenia
This political faction’s secretary, Naira Zohrabyan, says they cannot have a position on a document they haven’t ever seen. “When it comes to the National Assembly for a debate and we see to what extent that document reflects our concerns, the faction will express its position. I don’t think any faction or political force can express an objective opinion on a document it hasn’t seen.”
Zohrabyan referred to the concerns over the problematic issue of a customs checkpoint between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and the risks stemming from the increased customs duties on over 800 categories of goods. She said they are hopeful to hear exhaustive answers at the parliamentary debates.
Zohrabyan added that the 36-member faction has not yet reached consensus, adding that they are planning a new discussion ahead of the voting to develop common approaches.
Asked what their party’s leader thinks about the deal, the Prosperous Armenia secretary simply replied, “Mr [Gagik] Tsarukyan will express his position.”
Armenian National Congress (ANC)
The faction’s leader, Levon Zurabyan, refrained from expressing any opinion when contacted by our correspondent for comments. Former Military Prosecutor Gagik Jhangiryan, who also represents this political force at the National Assembly, said they will decide on their position after the document is on the parliament’s agenda.
At the opposition’s rally earlier this month, first President and current ANC leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan described the EEU accession process as an irreversible development.
Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Dashnaksutyun (ARF-D)
This faction’s leader, Armen Rustamyan, gave a somewhat welcoming remark when asked about the deal. “Dashnaksutyun always has its decisions, which are not of conceptual importance; they aren’t easily changed or reconsidered unlike those of [other individuals] and some political forces.”
As for the concerns over a possible customs checkpoint with Nagorno-Karabakh, Rustamyan said he thinks that the party would really feel embarrassed if that scenario were realistic. “That document will be brought [to parliament]. And you will see it says nothing of the kind,” he told our correspondent.
Heritage
The faction’s secretary, Tevan Poghosyan, said he expect their lawmakers to reach a consensus before the voting.
“I have several times heard [Heritage faction leader Ruben] Hakobyan say that Armenia should not be a member in any union, considering the conflict situations,” he said.
The remark suggests that the other Heritage members support an association deal with the EU, with the faction’s leader being against both the Eurasian and European integration processes.
Alexander Arzumanyan, a former foreign minister who is formally affiliated with this faction, says he has no other choice but to vote against.
Speaking to Tert.am, the politician said he doesn’t expect members of the ruling Republican faction to vote against the deal in a surprise move. “I can only guess that Heritage will vote against; as for the othera, judging by the rally, both the ANC and Prosperous Armenia are proponents. But it still remains to be seen,” he told our correspondent.
Rule of Law
Heghine Bisharyan, who heads this political faction, said she thinks they first need to see the treaty before saying anything for or against.
“As you see, the press is flooded with different negative opinions forecasting market surges. The major difficulty is, of course, the fact that we do not share borders with the EEU member states and have no idea as to our possible advantages. I am optimistic about it even though the negative is highlighted more. So let us simply try to listen to the opinions,” she added.
Republican
Koryun Nahapetyan, who represents the ruling political faction in parliament, says he expects their lawmakers to develop their common positions after talks with a government representative.
“The document hasn’t been submitted yet; once it is, the corresponding committee and the Republican faction will organize debates,” he told Tert.am.

Armenian Ruling Party Slams Opposition ‘Traitors’

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The parliamentary leader of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) sparked a bitter verbal exchange with outspoken opposition lawmakers on Tuesday after accusing them of accepting money from the West and Azerbaijan to betray Armenia.

“We witnessed yesterday a classical example of high treason,” charged Vahram Baghdasarian. “The Armenian parliament’s rostrum was used for spreading Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s disinformation. False information was made public here ahead of a meeting between the president of our country and the president of an unfriendly country (Azerbaijan).”

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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.”

Russia grants equal rights to Eurasian Union citizens – pros and cons

October 18, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Diaspora No Comments
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Armenia and Russia have agreed on a joint measure to grant equal rights and conditions to employment migrants.
Speaking to Tert.am, Aram Safaryan, President of the local NGO Integration and Development,  said a corresponding document has been already coordinated with the Russian government agencies to ensure equality for the Armenians ctizens in Russia.
“Those rights imply equal employment conditions, lifting of patents and licenses, as well as a corresponding social package which particularly envisages a right to access primary healthcare and ambulance services. Besides, Armenian citizens are granted the right the free school and nursery-school attendance for their children,” he said.
Asked to comment on the amended Russian migration rules that restricted the entry of people who violated the residency terms, Safaryan said he knows that the Federal Migration Service has now launched an interagency commission to revise the dossiers of those Armenian citizens who faced entry bans earlier this year.“It has already been announced that the cases involving spouses and parents are automatically subject to revision. And that also automatically applies to the Armenian citizens in Russia. Citizens falling within other categories have to apply to the Federal Migration Agency centers to have their cases revised by the commission within short timeframes,” he explained.Safaryan noted that the corresponding bodies have already got the procedure underway. “Under the document already coordinated with the interested Russian ministries, the Armenian citizens are granted the right to the same employment and residency conditions as do the citizens of the [Eurasian] Customs Union member states,” he added.Safaryan said he thinks that the Eurasian Economic Union is a step ahead compared to the Customs Union. “In the case of the Customs Union, we deal with the free movement of money, capital, goods and services. whereas in the Eurasian Economic Union, the right to free movement adds to that,” he added.
Asked whether he isn’t afraid that the measure will boost migration, Safaryan replied, “I don’t think so, because I know that thousands of people used to renounce their Armenian citizenship to become citizens of Russia under the pretext of their children’s [free] schooling opportunity, patent right etc. I believe that after the signing of this treaty [on EEU accession], the Armenian citizens will overwhelmingly stop thinking about giving up the Republic of Armenia citizenship.”
Commenting on the measure, Head of the Armenian Migration Service Gagik Yeganyan said he is aware that the united labor market and the free movement of labor force will also apply to the Armenian citizens after treaty’s effective date (January 1, 2015)
“Those rules of the game will apply to citizens of all the EEU countries. An Armenian citizen will have the same employment rights as the Russian citizen, and that will have a mutual effect,” he said, ruling out the necessity of further documentation procedures.Yeganyan added that the entry bans resulting from irregular migration are not within the realm of the EEU authorities. “As far the the individuals facing entry bans are concerned, we send requests to our colleagues in Russia for each individual case. Based on the notice, they revise the decision,” he said, considering the Russian authorities’ agreement to reconsider the cases a manifestation of good will.
As for possible migration concerns, Yeganyan said he doesn’t think that the facilitated rules will boost exodus 

Armenia’s Membership in the EEU: Raises More Questions Than It Answers

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19:01, October 17, 2014

Babken Der Grigorian

In response to Harut Sassounian’s article “The West Must Offer Armenia Incentives Rather than Decry its Ties with Russia 

Upon reading Harut Sassounian’s latest article “The West Must Offer Armenia Incentives Rather than Decry its Ties with Russia”, I have been compelled to write a response addressing its shortcomings and inaccuracies, increasingly common also within the broader narratives regarding Armenia’s accession into the EEU in the Armenian community.

On September 3, 2013, after Armenia completed nearly three years of negotiations with the European Union on an Association Agreement, which included years of European-funded legislative reforms, President Serzh Sargsyan was summoned to Moscow for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Opposition Party Condemns Eurasian Union Entry

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The opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party of Raffi Hovannisian on Friday officially condemned as Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) which was formalized by President Serzh Sarkisian on October 10.

Zharangutyun claimed that membership in the Russian-led bloc will pose a “most serious threat” to Armenia’s independence and put at risk continued Armenian control over Nagorno-Karabakh. It said Sarkisian had no mandate to sign an “unconstitutional” accession treaty with his Russian, Kazakh and Belarusian counterparts at an EEU summit in Minsk.

“The deplorable efforts of the republic’s regime to compel Armenia’s accession to the EEU … aim merely to maneuver and perpetuate his illegitimate personal power obtained through falsification of the past elections,” charged the statement. “It is quite clear that Mr. Sarkisian, who has usurped power through unjust elections, is not authorized to sign any agreement or undertake any obligation on behalf of the people of Armenia.”

Armenia’s accession to Eurasian Economic Union means no censorship – expert

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Asia No Comments
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Although many people draw parallels between the Soviet Union and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), political scientist Alexander Iskandaryan believes that Armenia’s accession to the EEU does not mean censorship as the EEU is an economic alliance.“True, all this has its political aspect, but it is a foreign policy aspect rather than a domestic political one, and the other member-states have no motives for practicing censorship in Armenia,” the expert said.As to the possibility of inclusion of such subjects as the history of Kazakhstan or Belarus in Armenia’s school curriculum, Mr Iskansaryan said:“I do not think so, but some teaching of other states’ history would be good. We have to date been a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), but we do not know Turkmenistan’s history nor have we studies Kyrgyzstan’s history as a Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member. So are we going to study Kazakhstan’s history as an EEU member.”With respect to the draw parallels between the Soviet Union and the EEU, Mr Iskandaryan said:“The Soviet Union is impossible to re-form. On the other hand, the Soviet Union is not a swearword. It was a state that existed in a specific political situation.” 

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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.