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Lives in Limbo: Some Syrian-Armenians, Unable to Cope, Dream of Leaving Armenia

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11:02, June 17, 2014

Ever since arriving in Armenia one year ago, after fleeing the war in Syria, Maral Nalbandian hadn’t taken a proper bath.

Now, after finding shelter at the Armenian Catholic Church Diocese, the 56 year-old refugee has that basic luxury.

“The shower in the house we were staying was in the yard,” she tells me. “It was too cold in the winter and since it had only a curtain instead of a door, it was inconvenient in the summer. Would you feel comfortable?”

Maral hails from Aleppo and, like so many other Armenians fleeing the civil war, wound up in Armenia.

European Union transfers €250m financial aid to Ukraine

June 16, 2014 Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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The European Commission has transferred the first €250 million tranche to help Ukraine with reforms, part of an €11 billion 2-year support package.”Today’s disbursement is one of many steps we are currently making to help the government of Ukraine in addressing the short-term needs as well as preparing for the implementation of the Association Agreement. We stand by Ukraine and we are proving it with concrete actions,” Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule was cited in the statement as saying.The second €105 million tranche will follow in the next months and will be linked with the progress in reforms in the areas of anti-corruption, public finance management, civil service, constitutional reform, electoral legislation and justice, TASS reports.

Lavrov is to meet with Belarusian President Lukashenko in Minsk to discuss crisis in Ukraine

June 16, 2014 Asia, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov is meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Vladimir Makei on Monday to discuss cooperation between the two countries, the situation in Ukraine, and interaction at the United Nations Organization, the Voice of Russia reports.”During the talks in Minsk, the sides are to consider in detail topical bilateral and international issues, specifically cooperation within the scope of international associations such as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Eurasian Economic Union, and the Union State of Russia and Belarus (USRB), interaction at the UN and at other international organizations, relations with the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the elaboration of agreed positions on a solution to problems of current concern,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Sarkisian Congratulates Syria’s Assad


Syria — A banner with a picture of President Bashar Assad hangs on a destroyed building in the Homs neighborhood of Khaldiyeh, June 3, 2014

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Investigation under way after 13 planes mysteriously vanish from radars in Europe for 25min. in ‘unprecedented’ incident

June 13, 2014 Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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A total of 13 aircraft suddenly vanished off radars for about 25 minutes on two occasions while flying over Austria, it has been revealed.In what is being billed as ‘unprecedented’ circumstances, the incidents on June 5 and yesterday saw the flight data disappear from air controller screens.Austria’s flight safety organization admitted that the height, location and other information for a total of 13 aircraft mysteriously vanished from radars.It is believed that some of the planes were long-haul flights carrying passengers on board.Markus Pohanka, a spokesman for Austro Control, said relevant EU agencies have been asked to investigate the ‘unprecedented’ situation.He added that other unnamed neighbouring countries had similar incidents and the EU’s Eurocontrol, and European Aviation Safety Agency has been asked for a probe.Pohanka did not identify the other nations that the European flights were flying over when they disappeared from radars.However, a report in the Kurier newspaper said as well as in Vienna in Austria, flight controllers in Munich and Karlsruhe in Germany, and in Prague, the Czech Republic, and Bratislava in Slovakia also reported related problems.The report said German air traffic control had confirmed the black outs, adding that the reason there were no collisions was due to the air traffic controllers.It could have had dramatic consequences, as 4,000 planes take to the sky in Austria every day – with 50 in the air at any one time, according to the report.Air traffic was conducted ‘blind’ – by voice only – during the temporary outage, it claimed.The revelations echo the circumstances surrounding missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing which disappeared on March 8.The Boeing 777 – with 239 passengers and crew on board – vanished from civilian radar screens about an hour into the night flight.In relation to the 13 missing flights about Europe, Kurier cited unnamed experts as saying interference between the aircrafts’ transponders and ground control was apparently to blame.Pohanka declined to confirm that or to say which airlines and planes were involved.But he suggested that at least some may have been long-distance passenger aircraft, based on their high altitudes.There was no danger at any time, he said.Pohanka said extra air controllers immediately were called to their posts and emergency measures, including establishing voice contact with the pilots and widening flight corridors, were put into effect.The EU’s Eurocontrol and European Aviation Safety Agency will investigate the incidents. 

Prof. Peter Cowe Honored at Los Angeles Banquet

June 13, 2014 Armenia, Culture, Europe No Comments
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12:25, June 13, 2014

Over 200 guests attended a June 1 Los Angeles banquet honoring the 30thanniversary of Prof. S. Peter Cowe’s scholarly career and the 45thanniversary of the Narekatsi Chair in Armenian Studies at UCLA.

The event was organized by the 30th Anniversary Committee and the Friends of UCLA Armenian Language and Culture Studies, in support of the expansion of the Armenian Studies program and particularly Western-Armenian instruction at UCLA.

The guests included community leaders, scholars, and Armenology students, and a number of academics from Armenia, Europe, and the Americas who were participating in a UCLA conference organized by Dr. Grigor Areshian on “Current  Practices in Armenian Studies: the Creation and Visibility of New Knowledge.”  

World Bank Drafts Plan to Improve Tourism Infrastructure in Armenia’s South

June 12, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe No Comments
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13:31, June 12, 2014

Deputy Prime Minister Armen Gevorgyan today met with a World Bank delegation led by Ahmed Eiweida , the Bank’s Sustainable Sector Leader for Europe and Central Asia, and was informed about preparations underway for a new program designed to improve the infrastructure of the tourist sector in Armenia’s southern provinces.

Gevorgyan and Eiweida discussed the possibility of garnering grant resources for the draft phase of the project and the selection of a coordinating structure to monitor the project.

An agreement was reached whereby the World Bank team would, in future, would present the Armenian government with relevant documents, after which the Armenian side would launch the project’s preliminary  process.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Kremlin-Linked Media Chief Warns Armenia


Armenia – Deputy parliament speaker Hermine Naghdalian and controversial Russian TV host Dmitry Kiselyov (R) at a meeting in Yerevan, 11Jun2014.

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Russia, Ukraine, EU gas talks fail to reach deal

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Russia, Ukraine and the EU have failed to reach an agreement during gas talks in Brussels. Negotiations will continue on Tuesday or Wednesday, EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said after the fifth round of the three-party talks, the rt.com reports.Oettinger specified that there are some remaining open issues and different positions between the parties.He indicated that talks will continue tomorrow as Ukrainian and Russian delegates talk with their governments and decide if they want to continue the negotiations.”The talks will continue either Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning,” Commission spokeswoman Sabine Berger told Reuters.Russia, Ukraine and the EU for the first time discussed the price for the supplied Russian gas to Ukraine, including payments for June-August, Russia’s Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said after the three-party gas talks ended.Russia has proposed “a very constructive plan, which we believe all stakeholders could and should accept,” Novak said, including the repayment schedules for the remaining debt Ukraine owes Gazprom.$1.454 billion of Ukraine’s undisputed debt to Gazprom remains unpaid. This is the debt for Russian gas delivered to Ukraine in November and December of 2013.The parties discussed repayments for the past November-December supplies, Novak said, adding that the need to pay back $1.451 billion by June 10 remains unchanged, as well as the partial repayment of $500 million debt accumulated for April and May.Earlier on Monday, Ukraine’s energy and coal industry minister Yury Prodan said Kiev will pay the debt for Russian gas after the new gas price is confirmed.Gazprom says Ukraine owes it $4.46 billion in unpaid bills and is running up more debt at a rate of more than $1 billion per month. Meanwhile, Kiev says its debt for 2013 and 2014 as of April 1 stood at $2.2 billion. It paid $786 million last week which covered the gas supplied in the first quarter of this year.Ukraine receives about half of its natural gas from the Russian energy giant, and about 16 percent of Europe’s annual demand passes through Ukrainian pipelines.A compromise agreement reached in May was broken by Kiev after it failed to repay $2 billion to Gazprom. The second part of that deal included another $500 million to be paid no later than June 7.On Monday, Aleksey Miller said that Gazprom will wait another seven days for the debt to be paid in full before it switches Kiev to a prepayment system for natural gas.

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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.