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Still No Agreement On Armenian-Azeri Summit


International mediators appear to have failed to arrange a fresh meeting of Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s presidents during a series of consultations held with the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the last three weeks.

The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have repeatedly met with the foreign ministers of the two warring nations since February 22 in an effort to organize the next Armenian-Azerbaijani summit which they hope will break the current impasse in the Karabakh peace process.

In a joint statement issued in Moscow late on Wednesday, they stressed “the need for further talks at the highest level to advance the peace process” but announced no agreements on the summit’s date and agenda. They said they discussed with the ministers unspecified “issues raised by the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan during their November 2013 meeting in Vienna.”

Ukraine, EU to sign association deal next week

March 13, 2014 Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Kyiv hopes to sign political chapters of an association agreement with the European Union next week, RIA Novosti reported.
“I am sure that next week Ukraine will sign the political part of the association agreement and take a firm step to make Ukraine part of the European Union,” the UNIAN news agency quoted Yatsenyuk as saying.
Yatsenyuk held a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House Wednesday to find a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Mass opposition protests erupted across the country in November after President Viktor Yanukovych rejected an association agreement and trade pact with the EU, opting instead for closer ties with Russia.
Though the demonstrations were mostly peaceful to begin with, clashes between protesters and police intensified in January and peaked on February 18, when dozens of people were killed. Many of them, including some police officers, had been fatally shot.
The Ukrainian parliament impeached Yanukovych in late February and called for an early presidential election in May. The ousted president has called the move an illegal coup and insisted that he remains the country’s lawful head of state.
A group of US senators led by John McCain will travel to Ukraine on Thursday to meet with leaders of its interim government, amid tensions over the southern Ukrainian region of Crimea that pushes for a referendum on joining Russia.
Russian lawmakers adopted a resolution in late January slamming foreign politicians for what they say is interference in Ukraine. Criticism of foreign influence appeared to be a reference to visits to Kiev by a number of top European and US politicians and diplomats.
In December, McCain addressed a crowd of anti-government supporters in Kyiv, pledging broad US support for the pro-European movement. Earlier that same month, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland visited the epicenter of the protest movement and handed out bread to demonstrators. 

Court Sentences Man to 15 Years for Gunning Down ‘Beau’ of Gyumri Mayor’s Daughter

March 12, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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18:28, March 12, 2014

Haroutyun Sargsyan, the man charged with the April 2012 killing of the man who planned to marry the daughter of then Gyumri Mayor Vardan Ghukasyan, was today found guilty and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

As the verdict was read out, relatives of the accused voiced   their disapproval, shouting ‘shame, shame’.

27 year-old Karen Yesayan had been found shot to death in his car in Armenia’s second largest city on the very day the couple were to celebrate their engagement.

Yesayan and his parents were natives of Gyumri but had relocated to the United States several years ago. Karen had returned to Gyumri expressly to find a bride.

G7 warns Russia on ‘annexing’ Crimea

March 12, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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Leaders of the G7 group of nations have called on Russia to stop all efforts to “annex” Ukraine’s Crimea region, the BBC reports.They said if Russia took such a step they would “take further action, individually and collectively”.The G7 leaders also said they would not recognize the results of a referendum in Crimea this weekend on whether to split from Ukraine and join Russia.Meanwhile, Ukraine’s national security chief has warned of a major Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders.Andriy Parubiy said Moscow had not withdrawn its troops after carrying out military exercises near Ukraine’s eastern and southern frontiers.”The Russian army is only two to three hours’ march from Kiev,” he said, adding that Ukraine’s “units are positioned to repel attack from any direction.”The Group of Seven industrial nations – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US – along with the European Union urged Russia to “cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea”.”In addition to its impact on the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea could have grave implications for the legal order that protects the unity and sovereignty of all states,” they said in a statement released by the White House.They said Sunday’s referendum, asking the people of Crimea if they want to be a part of Russia or Ukraine, has “no legal effect” as it is in “direct violation” of Ukraine’s constitution.”Given the lack of adequate preparation and the intimidating presence of Russian troops, it would also be a deeply flawed process which would have no moral force.”The leaders repeated their calls for Russia to de-escalate the crisis by withdrawing its troops, talking directly with Kiev and using international mediators to “address any legitimate concerns it may have”. 

Yerevan Hails Swiss Court Action On Armenian Genocide Denial


Armenia commended Switzerland on Wednesday for asking the European Court of Human Rights to reconsider a recent ruling that public denial of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey cannot be deemed a crime.

The ruling was handed down in December as a result of an appeal lodged by Dogu Perincek, a Turkish pro-establishment politician.

Perincek was fined by a Swiss court in 2007 for declaring during a lecture tour in Switzerland that the 1915 slaughter of some 1.5 Armenians is an “international lie.” The punishment stemmed from Switzerland’s anti-racism legislation that bans any act of denying, belittling or justifying genocide. It was upheld by the Swiss Federal Court.

Diplomatic Silence: Cautious reaction in Yerevan as crisis escalates in Ukraine

March 11, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Karabakh No Comments

The reaction in Armenia to the latest developments in Ukraine has been described by many political analysts and pundits as very cautious or virtually nonexistent. They say that official Yerevan keeps ‘diplomatic silence’.

Last weekend Ukrainian Ambassador to Armenia Ivan Kukhta gave an interview to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, saying that while during his meeting with Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian the latter did speak in favor of a peaceful resolution of the crisis, nevertheless in diplomatic practice any country’s official position is stated through an official statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the prime minister or president, which, he said, had not been done thitherto.

Sanctions Against Russia ‘Bad For Armenian Economy’

March 11, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Top News No Comments

Western economic sanctions that could be imposed against Russia because of its military intervention in Ukraine would also hurt Armenia, Economy Minister Vahram Avanesian said on Tuesday.

“If sanctions affect the economy of our partner — be it Russia, the European Union or the United States — that cannot be good for us,” he told reporters.

Avanesian said that the Armenian government has not yet calculated potential damage to the domestic economy or made contingency plans for responding to possible U.S. and European Union sanctions.

“We cannot prepare for something which we don’t know yet,” he explained. “We can only say that Russia’s economy is very important to us and we are tied to it by many bonds. So any weakening of the Russian economy would certainly be bad for the Armenian economy.”

Armenian Scientists: Web Based Cooperation Transcends Borders

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10:33, March 11, 2014

The Yerevan Physics Institute (YerPhI), together with its Cosmic Ray Division (CRD), is establishing an international partnership for analysis of scientific data stored at some of the world’s largest scientific installations. 

The CRD’s part of this project, entitled “Web-Based Data Analysis Platform for Space Weather Observations”, will develop a sophisticated web based application for collaborative analysis and research of complex data.


The data will originate from multiple research laboratories both at CRD’s facilities in Armenia and from distant sources. The system is currently operational at CRD’s site and its further development is supported within the framework of the Vaporciyan Multivariate Analysis and Visualization (VMAV) project. 

Illegally formed capital must become completely legal – Ruben Hakobyan

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In an interview with Tert.am, Head of the Heritage parliamentary group Ruben Hakobyan commented on Armenian ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s appeal to Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) leader Gagik Tsarukyan’s political ambitions.According to him, it was a message to Armenian businessmen.“The present situation shows that one does not need to run $2bn shady businesses to put an end to the monopolies that crushed small and medium businesses. Rather, it is necessary to combine the political and business potential to carry out radical reforms,” he said.“I believe that it was a message to the business community. History shows that after changes of economic formations initial capital is formed by not quite legal means. History also shows that this stage must come to its end at one moment, and economy, with clear political bias, must become completely legal. For example, this process lasted for about 40 years in the USA, 25 years in Europe, ten years in the Baltic States after the USSR’s collapse. Regrettably, we cannot end this stage. We have to improve our economy and politics now. Both the business community and the political elite must be able to ensure legal operation of economy. In this context, I consider this statement a message to the business community. This system affects businessmen as well.” 

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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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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.

Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments


2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.

Heritage reshuffle: Postanjyan becomes new leader of parliamentary faction


Zaruhi Postanjyan has been elected new head of the opposition Heritage faction in parliament. The change comes after Ruben Hakobyan announced his decision to resign as faction leader earlier today.

Talking to media in parliament Hakobyan said Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian had been notified about his move well in advance. He left questions about reasons for his step without commentary, only saying that he had decided to step down as faction leader before the recent scandal around Postanjyan in the wake of her controversial question to President Serzh Sargsyan about his gambling habit at the PACE plenary session in Strasbourg on October 2.