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‘Open Sky’ good progress for Armenia’s aviation market, says deputy minister

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In an interview with Tert.am, a deputy minister of economy, Sergey Avetisyan, said he thinks the 50% increase in the flights from and to Armenia is a significant progress for the country which adopted the ‘Open Sky’ policies less than a year ago.
“We are hopeful that the positive records will be maintained; we are working in that direction, lifting all the restrictions and trying to involve such well known companies as British Airlines, Qatar Air, Etihad and so on.”
Asked why Armenian citizens prefer nonetheless to travel to Europe and other countries abroad through Georgia (from where flights can cost as much as €50 in case of booking a ticket in advance), the deputy minister said their current efforts are targeted at making the local aviation market attractive to the Armenian citizens
“We are doing all our best to prevent people from flying through Georgia. If they want to spend a day in Tbilisi, they are welcome to do so. But wasting five hours on departure and return is not worth it. We seek to prevent the Georgian market from being more attractive to our citizens,” he answered.
Avetisyan confirmed Minister Karen Cshmarityan’s earlier statement that they are now conducting talks with different air companies in an effort to make international flights cheaper for the Armenian citizens. “Yes, we are conducting multi-lateral talks, but there are also budgetary companies we are negotiating with. This is a question on a little bit different platform. I cannot specify timeframes, but negotiations are really under way,” he said. 

Putin, European leaders back stronger OSCE role in monitoring Ukraine conflict

July 3, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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The leaders of Russia, Germany and France agreed in a conference call that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should play a more active role in monitoring the conflict in Ukraine, RIA Novosti reports, citing the Kremlin.”The leaders of the three states spoke in favor of a more active role for the OSCE in monitoring situation in the conflict zone,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
While speaking to French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin also expressed deep concern about the growing number of Ukrainian refugees in Russia and civilian casualties in the violence-plagued regions of Ukraine.
According to a statement released by the Elysee Palace, the three leaders also stressed the importance of the agreement that was reached Wednesday in Berlin between the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia to achieve a bilateral ceasefire in the restive Ukrainian regions.
The French president and the German chancellor urged Moscow to facilitate the organization of a meeting of the contact group, including representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE, that would establish conditions for a truce.
The statement also said that during the phone conversation Hollande and Merkel called on Russia to act as a mediator during talks with independence supporters to encourage their consent to come to the negotiating table and reach an agreement with the authorities in Kiev.

Sarkisian Must Go, Says Hovannisian

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President Serzh Sarkisian has no mandate to make Armenia part of a Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states and must step down as soon as possible, opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian said over the weekend.

Hovannisian accused Sarkisian of leading the country to ruin as he addressed a conference of his Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, one of the four parliamentary forces jointly challenging the current Armenian leadership. “For the sake of Armenia, for the sake of its national flag, Mr. Sarkisian and his administration must resign,” he said in a speech.

“We believe that there must be a constitutional revolution through a change of this unelected government,” the U.S.-born politician told reporters in separate comments.

Armenian Lifers Begin Hunger Strike

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Twenty-nine men serving life sentences at Armenia’s largest prison went on hunger strike on Monday to demand that the authorities review their cases and legally increase their chances of regaining freedom.

Many of the inmates of the Nubarashen prison just outside Yerevan have already spent over 20 years behind bars. They had originally received death sentences that were commuted to life imprisonment after Armenia joined the Council of Europe in 2001.

Some of the life prisoners already went on hunger strike a decade ago after the then Armenian government enacted a new criminal code that abolished capital punishment. They protested against a clause that made them eligible for parole only after 20 years in prison. They argued that that the maximum jail term under the previous Soviet-era legislation was only 15 years. 

Raffi Hovannisian: For the Sake of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan Must Go

June 29, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
Armenian News

14:04, June 28, 2014

At the 10th Heritage Party convention, Raffi Hovannisian brushed aside criticism directed against him for saying nice things about President Serzh Sargsyan.   

“They faulted me for speaking kindly about Serzh Sargsyan, but for the sake of Armenia and salvation we must have an Armenia without a Sargsyan presidency.

Hovannisian also chided the opposition for ‘talking the talk, but not walking the walk’ when it comes to unity, noting that after reaching a measure of informal unity, each party holds its own public protests and receives various delegation.

The Heritage Party leader said that none of the opposition parliamentary factions on their own are capable of doing the job.

EU and Eurasian Economic Union: possible clash of interests in the region – opinions

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The signing of Association Agreements with the European Union (EU) by Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine (the last-named signed only the economic component) has created a new situation in the region – an echo of the Ukrainian crisis against the background of tangled relations between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union.In an interview with Tert.am, Head of the European Integration NGO Karen Bekaryan said that four of the six European Partnership member-states – Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Ukraine – have certain problems involving different conflicts. Besides, other two states, Belarus and Azerbaijan, signed Association Agreements with the EU, as well as Armenia, which has not yet full-fledged relations with the EU.Political Secretary of the Heritage party Styopa Safaryan told Tert.am about another “tangle.” According to him, “it will be better seen after Armenia joins the Eurasian Economic Union.” That is, the Armenia-Georgia border will turn into a border between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union.Given the fact of Armenia becoming a border with the EU economic area, as well as Russia’s position on the European Partnership policy and on the Association Agreements between the EU and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, Mr Safaryan forecasts a number of pessimistic scenarios.“First, we can expect Russians to use Armenia in its actions against them. Secondly, if it happens, Europe will have to block Armenia even worse by means of other states.”However, this is not a problem of Georgia alone.“Even if Georgia wants, the EU had warned of the impossibility customs free trade between the two economic areas because, if Armenia is allowed to, it will imply its joining the EU free economic zone,” Mr Safaryan said.Political scientist Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan does not think the new situation in the region is the result of Association Agreements between the EU and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Rather, it is the result of the Ukraine developments.“By and large, the Eurasian Economic Union has waged a struggle for Ukraine, with neither Europe nor Russia being the winner. They have divided Ukraine and got such problems that huge economic resources are required to resolve them.”“In any case, evidence thereof is Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s recent visit to Georgia, where the two countries’ leaders stated that being parts of two economic unions would not prevent the development of their trade relations. On the other hand, the Caucasus could be turned into a crossroads of interests of the EU and Eurasian Economic Union,” Mr Melik-Shahnazaryan said as he quoted Armenia’s president. 

Armenian National Congress conducts board meeting

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The opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC) has conducted its regular board meeting, reports the party’s press service.
The board members agreed to set up healthcare and social affairs commissions, and a separate body tasked with coordinating activities with civic groups.
ANC deputy leaders Aram Manukyan and Levon Zurabyan reported on their current cooperation and future plans with the parliamentary opposition,
Zurabyan also briefed the participants on the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s summer session.  

Source: TertOriginial Article

Ex-PM Named New Armenian Ambassador To U.S.

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Former Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian was appointed as Armenia’s ambassador to the United States on Thursday nearly three months after his surprise resignation.

Sarkisian stepped down on April 3, just two days after the country’s four leading opposition parties announced plans to hold nonstop rallies in Yerevan in support of their parliamentary motion of censure against his cabinet.

Opposition leaders said President Serzh Sarkisian (no relation) forced the premier to step down in order to stave off protests that would have threatened his hold on power. Representatives of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) denied that. But neither they nor Tigran Sarkisian gave a clear reason for the resignation followed by a government reshuffle.

Abrahamian Demands Action Against ‘Disrespectful’ Activists

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Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian on Thursday accused vocal opponents of his government’s controversial pension reform of humiliating state officials and ordered law-enforcement bodies to take “drastic” measures against them.

Abrahamian referred to members of the Dem Em (I’m Against) pressure group who hurled coins at government ministers and pro-government lawmakers outside the parliament building in Yerevan last week. Dozens of Dem Em activists rallied there as the National Assembly debated and approved a government proposal to relaunch the unpopular reform.

“I find unacceptable attempts to humiliate and pressurize government representatives with populist methods such as throwing coins at ministers and parliament deputies,” Abrahamian said at the start of a weekly cabinet meeting. “Don’t get me wrong. I not only stand for freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly but will also protect those rights till the end.

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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

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

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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.