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Greener Shores? The Travails of Armenians Seeking Refuge in France

August 4, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Georgia No Comments
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09:30, August 4, 2014

I’m in a Paris suburb, boarding a bus.

It’s the afternoon and the bus isn’t crowded. But it’s hard to see faces; everyone is either reading a book or hidden behind a telephone.

Suddenly, a phone rings. “Yeah, I’m on the bus right now,” I hear someone say in the dialect of Armenia.

I listen in to the conversation. “That Tibet woman is very slovenly. She doesn’t clean up after herself. When I tell her, she reprimands me. I don’t know what to do,” says the woman on the phone.

It’s a conversation full of complaints about her life in France and about the Tibetan neighbor she was allotted in the government housing project for people waiting for French residency papers.

EU urges conflicting sides to observe ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh

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The European Union calls on the conflicting parties in Nagorno-Karabakh, the subject of an unresolved dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia, to observe the ceasefire, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Sunday, RIA Novosti reported.
“We are very concerned by the latest armed incidents which caused a number of casualties along the Line of Contact and the Armenian-Azerbaijani State border in recent days. We call on both sides to immediately respect the ceasefire, refrain from the use of force or any threat thereof, and continue efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the spokesman said in a statement.
The EU is ready to engage in renewed efforts towards a political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and contribute to peace-building efforts, in full complementarity with the OSCE Minsk Group, the spokesperson added.
“We reiterate our full support to the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and the work of the three Co-Chairs, especially with regard to the need to continue negotiations at the highest level, as was agreed at the meeting between Presidents Sargsyan and Aliyev in Vienna on November 19, 2013,” the statement reads.Tensions along the contact line of Nagorno-Karabakh with Azerbaijan have been running high over the past few days. The ceasefire regime in the region has been violated several times, leading to casualties.Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said 14 Azeri servicemen have been killed and several others have been wounded. Defense officials of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic said at least three people on their side have died.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are still technically at war after a conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s, left some 30,000 people dead. A ceasefire was agreed on in 1994, but a permanent peace deal has still not been signed.

Rebels ambush convoy in MH 17 crash site

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Separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine have ambushed a government troop column, killing at least 10 soldiers, close to where flight MH17 crashed, BBC News reports.A military spokesman confirmed 10 deaths but Ukrainian media say as many as 20 died in the overnight attack.
The rebels say they destroyed more than 30 vehicles while unverified video shows bodies around a burning vehicle.
A team of 70 Dutch and Australian forensic experts has arrived at the crash site.
Travelling in a convoy with Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitors, they are equipped to recover furtherhuman remains, the Dutch justice ministry said on its website (in Dutch).
Fighting in the region had previously hindered them reaching the area where the Malaysia Airlines jet came down on 17 July with the loss of all 298 passengers and crew.
But after Ukraine’s military declared a unilateral one-day suspension of operations against the rebels in Donetsk region on Thursday, an exploratory visit was made, followed up by the full deployment on Friday.
Australia believes that around 80 bodies remain at the site.

We are to blame for the challenges we face, says Armenian politician

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In an interview with Tert.am, Suren Abrahamyan of the opposition Republic party addressed the hottest issues on Armenia’s domestic and foreign political agenda and the keys problems the country faces today. The politician said doesn’t find any fault with foreign powers for either the political U-turn to the Eurasian integration or the increased tension across the Armenian-Azerbaijani borderline. Instead, he called for stronger pan-national efforts towards combating the existing challenges.
Azerbaijani-provoked subversive acts have become more active in the recent period. Do you see any warlike scenario?
Normally, when the trilateral meetings by the co-chairs [of the OSCE Minsk Group] reach a certain culmination, the Azerbaijanis start inciting provocations of the kind. Azerbaijan wishes to artificially exacerbate the situation to lead the international community to the belief that the Karabakh conflict can never receive a peaceful solution.
Such acts, unfortunately, serve as a basis for anti-Armenian decisions by the UN, Council of Europe etc. Yes, they do not contain mandatory requirements, but the impression is that they expect a solution to be reached by use of force. But the things unfortunately become more complicated we all thought.
You had objections to September 3 [the day President Serzh Sargsyan declared Armenia’s intention to join the Eurasian Customs Union], and now the CU accession format still remains unclear. Do you have any foreign policy strategy?
What the country and the society have to do for that is consolidation; all the efforts should be directed at raising the society’s immune system to help us resist international challenges. I assure you that neither the Turk, nor the Russian and nor even the European are to blame for the situation we are in today; the fault and responsibility lies with us. We need a new strategy and new approach to resist this permissiveness, this obscenity by Azerbaijan.
What can the Armenian authorities do in such a situation?
We must, first of all, keep our borders and defense positions strong to prevent the enemy’s bullet from reaching our towns and villages. So, I expect bolder and more sensible steps by the government. 

Azerbaijani Press – 8 Azerbaijani Soldiers Killed in Yesterday’s Border Clash

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11:30, August 1, 2014

While the Artsakh Defense Army yesterday reported that two of its soldiers were killed while repulsing an Azerbaijani incursion across the border, various Azerbaijani news outlets have today issued their own take on the incident.

APA reports that eight Azerbaijani servicemen were killed while repulsing an Armenian incursion.

Trend reports that Azerbaijani forces repulsed an Armenian incursion along the Aghdam and Terter border regions and that both sides suffered losses in the ensuing firefight.

According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, some 20 soldiers from both sides have been killed in shooting incidents so far this year.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Eurozone inflation slips deeper into danger zone

August 1, 2014 Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Eurozone inflation has fallen to its lowest level since the height of the financial crisis, sliding further into what the European Central Bank (ECB) has described as a “danger zone”, BBC News reports.Prices rose in the single currency area by 0.4% in July, from 0.5% in June.The ECB considers that an inflation rate of below 1% poses a risk of deflation.Separate figures show that unemployment in the region fell slightly to 11.5% in June compared to 11.6% in May.Separate figures show that unemployment in the region fell slightly to 11.5% in June compared to 11.6% in May. the rate remains persistently below the ECB’s target rate of 2%. Prices have risen at an annualised rate of less than 1% for the last ten months.Central Bank governor, Mario Draghi, has previously warned that he would deem inflation below 1% to be in a “danger zone”, which could lead to prices tipping into a deflationary spiral. 

Western Watchdogs Alarmed By Another Azeri Arrest


Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International demanded on Thursday the immediate release of another Azerbaijani civil society member arrested on charges of spying for Armenia.

Leyla Yunus, a prominent human rights activist critical of Azerbaijan’s leadership, was taken into custody on Wednesday after repeated interrogations relating to her involvement in Armenian-Azerbaijani people-to-people diplomacy. She was charged with treason, tax evasion and fraud and remanded in pre-trial custody.

Azerbaijani prosecutors also charged her equally famous husband, Arif Yunus, with high treason but stopped short of arresting him pending investigation.

In a joint statement, Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor-General’s Office and National Security Ministry claimed that the couple for years maintained contacts with Armenian non-governmental organizations with the aim of spying for Armenia. They said Yunus and her husband recruited prominent journalist Rauf Mirgadirov and other Azerbaijanis to pass classified information to Armenian intelligence agents posing as civic activists.

Russia Slams U.S. ‘Threats’ To Armenia


Russia condemned the United States on Thursday for warning Armenia against business dealings with Russian firms that have been sanctioned by Washington as well as the European Union.

The Russian Embassy in Armenia reacted to the “thinly veiled threats” to the Armenian government and business community just hours after a statement on the matter released by U.S. Embassy in the country.

“We express concern over American attempts to complicate the work of Russian business in the Republic of Armenia,” the Russian mission said in a statement. “All Russian companies present in Armenia, including the VTB Armenia and Areksimbank banks, are under its jurisdiction, operate within the framework of the country’s legislation, make profits and pay taxes in Armenia, and employ a considerable part of the population.”

Double Whammy: European Court Hits Russia with $2.6 Billion Payment Demand in Yukos Case

July 31, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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12:44, July 31, 2014

Just days after some shareholders in the former oil giant Yukos won a $50 billion settlement in The Hague, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has awarded Yukos shareholders another 1.9 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in compensation, according to Reuters.

Shareholders had argued that Russia had unlawfully seized it after imposing bogus taxes and via a sham auction.

The Strasbourg-based court said Russia should also pay 300,000 euros in costs and expenses, plus any tax.

Yukos had sought compensation of just under $38 billion, according to the ruling. This was based on a valuation by a specialist energy firm, according to a source close to the claim.

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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.