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Closed Border? Armenia Imports Most of Its Wood from Turkey

October 21, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Georgia, Turkey No Comments
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00:02, October 21, 2014

Readers might be surprised to learn that despite closed borders, for the past four years Armenia has been importing the bulk of its wood and wood by-products from Turkey.

Such imports, according to Armenia’s National Statistical Service, reached a peak in 2011 at a value of US$20 million. Following Turkey, Armenia gets most of its wood and wood by-products from Ukraine, China and Georgia.

Armenia’s Imports: Wood/Wood Byproducts (in USD millions) Surprisingly, Armenia also exports wood. In the past two years, the largest recipients have been Moldova and Canada. Armenia’s wood exports are dwarfed by the amounts imported. Exports reached a peak in 2010 at a value of US$ 282,000.

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.

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.”

EU exit would reduce British influence, says Barroso

October 20, 2014 Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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The UK would lose influence on the world stage if it voted to leave the EU, the BBC reports quoting outgoing president of the European Commission as saying.
Jose Manuel Barroso said Britain could not negotiate with the US and China “on an equal footing” on its own.
He also said free movement of people within the EU was an “essential” principle that could not be changed.
David Cameron says he intends to negotiate a better deal for the UK in Europe, ahead of an in/out referendum.
The prime minister has said he will “not take no for an answer” and “get what Britain needs” on the question of freedom of movement.
If the Conservatives remain in power, a referendum would be held by 2017, Mr Cameron has said.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Barroso, whose term of office ends this month, said he believed Mr Cameron wanted Britain to remain in the EU.
“Britain is stronger in the European Union,” Mr Barroso said, pointing to the Ebola crisis as an area where Britain would not have the same level of influence if it was outside the EU.
Asked about Mr Cameron’s renegotiation plans, there was willingness in the EU to discuss benefit fraud and sham marriages, Mr Barroso said, but an “arbitrary cap” on migration would “not be in conformity with European rules”.
He said Mr Cameron had previously asked him to enforce the free movement principle between Spain and Gibraltar.
Mr Barroso said 1.4 million Britons lived elsewhere in the EU and it was a “matter of fairness” that other EU citizens had the same rights.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening told Sky’s Murnaghan program: “Free movement of labor was never meant to be an unqualified principle, irrespective of how it might have worked on the ground.
“We do need to see action taken in relation to negotiation with the EU.”
She said the government was “taking a fundamental look at some of the rules that allow unrestricted immigration”.

Donor conference to take place in Kiev in January 2015: Ukraine’s Government

October 20, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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A so-called donor and investors conference on Ukraine’s financial issues, organized by the European Union will take place in Kiev in the end of January 2015, a source from Ukraine’s government told RIA Novosti on Sunday.
“We have determined that the conference will take place in the end of January. According to preliminary agreement, it will be held in Kiev,” a source said.
As a result of the ongoing political crisis in the country, Ukraine is currently on the verge of a default. Kiev authorities are trying to rescue the country’s economy with international loans, including a $17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Kiev also has a significant gas debt that its gas company Naftogaz owes to Russian energy giant Gazprom, which is estimated to stand at over $5 billion.
The military operation initiated by Kiev authorities in mid-April to suppress independence supporters in eastern Ukraine claimed the lives of 3,700 people and left over 8,800 injured. Due to the conflict, Ukraine’s southeastern regions have witnessed a severe humanitarian catastrophe, with many citizens still struggling without clean water, electricity and other basic necessities.
Country’s eastern regions require huge investments for reconstruction and the restoration of infrastructure.

Canada to ship Ebola vaccine to WHO

October 19, 2014 Africa, Armenia, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Canada is to ship 800 vials of its Ebola vaccine to the World Health Organization, the BBC reports.The jab can completely protect animals from a fatal dose of the Ebola virus. However, its safety and effectiveness in humans is unknown.Trials began in the US this week and there will be further tests in Europe and Africa.The Public Health Agency of Canada said the vaccine could be an “important tool in curbing the outbreak”.The recent Ebola outbreak – the largest in history – has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa.By December, up to 10,000 people a week could be being infected by the virus, the WHO says.There is no cure or proven vaccine, but a number of experimental approaches are being rushed through.The Canadian vaccine, developed by the public health agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory, combines fragments of Ebola virus with a non-fatal virus.It should be enough to trigger the immune system to produce antibodies to attack Ebola, protecting against future infection.Clinical trials have started at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the US but results are not expected until December.Canada will begin shipping the 800 vials on Monday.They will be sent in three batches as a precautionary measure. The vaccine must be packed in dry ice and kept at -80C in order to remain viable.Further trials will take place in Germany, Switzerland and countries in Africa not hit by the Ebola outbreak.Dr Gregory Taylor, the chief public health officer of Canada, said: “This vaccine, the product of many years of scientific research and innovation, could be an important tool in curbing the outbreak.”We will continue to work closely with the WHO to address some of the ethical and logistical issues around using this experimental vaccine in the fight against Ebola.”Around a third of the total stocks of the vaccine will be kept in Canada for research or “compassionate use”, the Canadian government said.A separate vaccine is already being trialled in the US, UK and Mali.It is being made by GlaxoSmithKline, which has warned the vaccine will “come too late” for the current epidemic.Dr Ripley Ballou, the head of GSK’s Ebola vaccine research, said full safety and effectiveness data would not be ready until late 2015.”At the same time we have to be able to manufacture the vaccine at doses that would be consistent with general use, and that’s going to take well into 2016 to be able to do that,” he added.”I don’t think this can be seen as the primary answer to this particular outbreak.”
 

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.” 

Armenians of Iraqi Kurdistan – Taking Up Arms Against the Ongoing ISIL Threat

October 18, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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11:40, October 18, 2014

Commander Murad Vardanian – “We went to confront the treacherous enemy on the riverbank, before they reached our villages.”

Erbil, Dohuk, Zakho, Avzrouk, Havresk, Ishkender….

They’re all towns and villages in Iraqi Kurdistan where Armenians are living today. Most speak Kurdish, but they still adhere to Christianity.

Their nationality and religion have made them a double target for the forces of ISIL/IS who seek to create a radical Islamic caliphate across large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

Recently, I came across an interesting post in Keghart.com written by a certain HamoMoskofian. He had recently travelled to the area and wrote about meeting MuradVardanian, a former Iraqi army commander, who now heads a group of local Armenian fighters defending these communities from ISIL assaults.

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.