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European Court Data On Armenia Released

August 28, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Top News No Comments

The European Court of Human Rights has handed down almost 50 rulings against the Armenian authorities in the past seven years, costing them over 576,000 euros ($770,000) in damages, a senior official said on Thursday.

Deputy Justice Minister Arman Tatoyan said most of these cases have involved serious breaches of the due process of law which the Strasbourg-based court believes were committed by Armenian law-enforcement authorities and ignored by courts.

Armenia fell under the European Court’s jurisdiction as it joined the Council of Europe in 2001. Its government lost the first case in Strasbourg in 2007.

3.5 Tn Peru Cocaine Seizure Tied To Mexicans, Destined For Europe

August 28, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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15:17, August 28, 2014

Authorities in Peru have discovered at least 3.5 tons of cocaine that police say was destined to be shipped from the Pacific coast to Europe by Mexican groups, highlighting the territorial reach of Mexico’s drug trafficking networks.

In an operation beginning on August 25, Peruvian antinarcotics police intercepted eight vehicles transporting coal with cocaine hidden inside in Huanchaco, a city in the coastal La Libertad region. Officials have not finished measuring the cocaine load, but they believe it could be in excess of four tons, reported El Comercio.

The seizure followed weeks of investigation into two legally constituted coal export companies, according to the Interior Ministry. Two Mexicans and seven Peruvians were arrested during the operation, reported RPP Noticias.

Slowing Growth In Russia Affects Armenian Remittances

August 26, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Top News No Comments

Large-scale remittances sent home by Armenians working in Russia rose only marginally in the first half of this year amid growing signs that the Russian economy may be sliding into recession.

According the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA), Armenian commercial banks processed almost $628 million in incoming non-commercial cash transfers from Russia in that period, up by less than 2 percent year on year. The overall amount of remittances rose by 4.7 percent to $773.2 million on the back of an almost 26 percent surge in individual cash coming from the United States, CBA data shows.

By comparison, wire transfers from Russia rose by almost 12 percent to $1.61 billion in the whole of 2013. They accounted for 86 percent of total non-commercial remittances, which were in turn equivalent to roughly 18 percent of Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product.

What lies behind Europe’s murky oil deals with Azerbaijan?

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Republished from New Internationalist (blog)Author: Molly Scott CatoBeyond hosting the Eurovision song contest or Formula One, few of us in Britain, I suspect, know much about Azerbaijan. In fact, you may find yourself asking whether it really qualifies as a European country at all. Why then, is British prime minister David Cameron so friendly with Azerbaijani President Ilhan Aliyev? And why did government Energy Minister Michael Fallon visit the country just last month?
When you learn that Azerbaijan’s capital city, Baku, is almost floating on natural gas, and that oil giant BP has strong interests in the country, things become a little clearer.
But it’s not just Conservative party ministers doing the bidding. Former Labour prime minister and part-time Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair is also in on the act. He is understood to be advising a powerful consortium of energy interests and helping to secure a highly controversial oil pipeline from the former Soviet republic.
With its massive oil and gas reserves, the regime in Baku is hoping to attract the sorts of capital flows that swirl through the Middle East, and is explicitly positioning itself as the new Dubai. Unfortunately, it is also using the regimes of that region as the model for its approach to human rights. Those who criticize the government or try to build bridges with people in neighbouring countries are liable to be branded traitors and subjected to arbitrary detention.
The problems in Azerbaijan came to my attention in my role as Member of the European Parliament (MEP). I received an email from a constituent who told me about her friend Leyla Yunus, whom she first met about 15 years ago at a conference of women peacemakers. Leyla made a strong impression, demonstrating her love for her country and her strong desire to help it be at peace with its neighbours.“Leyla, like many other human rights activists in Azerbaijan, has suffered endless harassment, and she and her husband Arif were obliged to get their daughter, their only child, Dinara, to safety in the Netherlands, because of the threats against her life. Over the years I have done what I could to support them,” recalled my constituent after meeting Layla in Baku.Azerbaijan is keen to develop its economic relationship with the European Union (EU) and perhaps even become a member one day. The EU has a stake in the success of the country’s fledgling democracy, since it funds civil-society organizations in the country to the tune of more than $27.9 million given to more than 74 projects since 2007. The repression of civil-society groups has therefore been met with concern at the highest levels of EU institutions.When European Commission President José Barroso visited Azerbaijan’s capital city in June, he stressed the importance of a multi-party democracy, an open society and an open economy as the best way to achieve stability and prosperity. According to Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, he also stressed that a thriving civil society constitutes an essential component of a healthy society.Dunja Mijatovic, the Representative on Freedom of the Media for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), has gone even further. Sharing her ‘alarm’ at the criminal charges against NGOs supporting media freedom in Azerbaijan, she said: “These actions appear to be part of a campaign of targeted suppression of free expression and free media […] media NGOs provide essential support to journalists and the whole media industry. Any actions to intimidate them and interfere with their activities go against OSCE commitments and create a chilling effect on those who champion freedom of the media.”So what can we do? Perhaps most importantly we should not collude in Azerbaijan’s portrayal of itself as just another exotic tourist destination. If ethical tourism means anything, then it means not supporting countries whose governments deny their citizens’ basic rights. Formula One fans can write to the sport’s governing body to demand that they cancel the race scheduled for Baku in 2016. And you could also contact your MEP and MP, letting them know your concerns about the way Leyla Yunus and other activists are being treated.It is hard for those of us who live in Britain to understand what life is like in a country where your basic rights are routinely abused by an oppressive and undemocratic government. Just as Aung San Suu Kyi has represented the struggle against this sort of oppression in Burma, so Leyla Yunus is its figurehead in Azerbaijan. Her greatest protection lies in her story being known and shared. 

WHO says e-cigarattes must be regulated

August 26, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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The UN health agency says electronic cigarettes should be regulated and banned from use indoors until the exhaled vapor is proven not to harm bystanders.The World Health Organization (WHO) also calls for a ban on sales to minors of the popular nicotine-vapor products, and to either forbid or keep to a minimum any advertising, promotion or sponsorship, New Europe reports.In a report Tuesday, the Geneva-based agency said the “apparently booming” $3 billion global market for more than 400 brands of e-cigarettes is increasingly becoming a competition between independent companies and transnational tobacco companies aggressively muscling for market share.The report is to be discussed at a WHO conference on controlling tobacco in October.The American Heart Association backs the battery-powered devices that vaporize nicotine as a last resort to help smokers quit.

Armenia exports little honey despite high demand in EU

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Despite its high demand on the EU market, the export of the Armenian honey turns out to be considerably low.
Speaking to Tert.am, a spokesperson for the Agriculture Ministry’s State Food Security Service said that they have not received any export requests from manufacturers so far. “There have been a couple of cases when just a few kilograms of [honey] was exported for personal use, but no company has so far applied for export,” Armine Sukiasyan explained.
Armenia, which has been included in the list of the countries eligible to deliver products abroad, can now freely export its honey to the EU member states. On August 21, the EU Commission approved the corresponding documents submitted by the Service back in 2013.
Artyom Mikaelyan, a deputy head of the bee-keeping company Honey Town, says he expects the export to expand Armenia’s honey market. “If we are able to fully secure the export to Europe, bee-keeping will develop at rapid paces, threefold increasing the bee-keepers’ number and contributing to the eradication of poverty, especially in villages and border regions,” he said.
Mikaelyan added that a certificate which Armenia has received from the EU allows also for the export of bee wax, bee glue and bee milk.
“We have got a contract with Germany, so we are going to export the first batch of bee glue,” he noted.
Asked about the competitiveness of the product, Mikaelyan said he knows that the Armenian honey is competitive in the EU.
He added that the company is planning to organize a festival-exhibition as part of the first ever pan-Armenian conference of bee-keepers next month. The event, set to take place from September 12 to 14, will bring together bee-keepers from different countries to consider the existing problems in the sector and possibilities of using the necessary technologies to promote the bee products’ export to Europe.

Georgia not joining Russia sanctions

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Georgia’s minister of agriculture has said that the country is not joining the western powers’ economic sanctions against Russia.
According to Gazeta.ru, Otar Danelia made the statement as he commented on an earlier remark by Peter Stano, a member of the European Commission in Charge for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy. He said that the country has not received any official statement from the Commission.
“We will consider only official statements and appeals sent to the Georgian government, but there have been no such appeals so far,” he was quoted as saying.
Danelia had earlier said that Georgia may enrich its exports to Russia with more food products such as fish, lamb meat and honey.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili had also expressed a willingness to increase the exports to the country.

Russia Encourages More Food Imports From Armenia


The Russian government has offered to help Armenia increase exports of agricultural products to Russia after its ban on food imports from the West, a senior official in Yerevan revealed on Thursday.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Robert Makarian showed RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) a letter from the Russian Ministry of Agriculture citing strong demand for Armenian foodstuffs in Russia and expressing readiness to help boos their imports.

Makarian said that representatives of some Russian food retailers have already arrived in Armenia to look into its export potential. “Since they are now facing a certain shortage of agricultural products they are now more interested in seeing our products in the Russian market,” he explained.

Armenia, Georgia To Build New Border Bridge


Armenia and Georgia will build a new bridge at their main crossing to facilitate bilateral commerce and travel, the prime ministers of the two states announced after talks in Yerevan on Thursday.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili met his Armenian counterpart Hovik Abrahamian on the first day of his official visit to Armenia. “We agreed to further deepen close cooperation between Georgia and Armenia and my visit will serve this purpose,” he told reporters afterwards.

“I also want to point out that we agreed that Armenia and Georgia will jointly build a bridge,” added Gharibashvili. “We heard today about an interesting proposal to name it Friendship Bridge and we gladly accepted that proposal.”

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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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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.

2013 in Civil Society: Protests and more protests


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.