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Armenia Reports Falling Exports To Russia

November 5, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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Armenian exports to Russia declined by 7 percent in the first nine months of this year, according to the data released by the country’s Ministry of Finance.

This is the first time such a decrease has been observed in years. Thus, the figures for similar periods of 2012 and 2013 showed exports from Armenia to Russia growing by 21 and 24 percent, respectively.

Russia is Armenia’s second largest trading partner after the European Union.

Earlier this year the government in Yerevan hoped to capitalize on the new export potentialities in the Russian market after Moscow retaliated to Western sanctions by banning imports of certain foodstuffs from EU member countries.  

Anna Ohanyan: Striding the Gap between Her Armenian and German Families

November 5, 2014 Armenia, Culture, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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21:36, November 3, 2014

By Maneh Grigoryan

During Germany lessons, all of us would immerse ourselves in a language that would open borders to another country…a country where it seemed doors would open before us.

We didn’t take conscious steps to break those doors or to fly through them like spirits. No; it was more than easy. Those doors would open before our mere presence. They are waiting for us. We are beautiful, young, and full of ideas. It is only in our country that we sell our time and energy for two Euros at best…Where we exhaust our imagination to the point that even humor doesn’t save us.

Toyota raises full-year profit forecast

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Japan’s biggest car manufacturer, Toyota, has raised its full-year profit forecast by 12.4%, citing a weaker yen and cost cutting efforts, the BBC reports.It has also raised its sales forecast for its key market of North America, where it has been enjoying a strong performance.The firm said net profit may reach as much as 2tn Japanese yen ($17.5bn; £10.96bn) for the year to March 2015.The carmaker’s earlier forecast was for a net profit of 1.78tn yen.Toyota’s executive vice president, Nobuyori Kodaira, said the firm had also raised its forecasts for operating profit and revenue for the period.”We are revising our operating income forecast upwards by 200bn yen to 2.5tn yen,” he said.He said this reflected the progress made on marketing and in reducing costs, and also the change in foreign exchange rates.Toyota also reported results for the six months to September, with net profit up 12.6% to 1.12tn yen.The carmaker said its vehicle sales for the period had fallen in Asia, including in Japan, but had increased in North America and Europe.The net profit figure includes profits made with the firm’s joint venture partners in China: China FAW Group and Guangzhou Automobile Group.The Japanese firm said its vehicle sales in North America had come to 1,395,105, up from 97,061 a year ago, but that in Japan, vehicle sales had decreased by 70,977 to 1,030,229.The news follows results from Toyota’s rival Nissan, which reported on Tuesday a 25% increase in half-year profits.Like Toyota, Nissan said strong sales in its key market of North America had helped to offset weaker demand in some other markets. 

EU not losing interest in Armenia – education minister

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In an interview with Tert.am, Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan hailed the new EU assistance program for Armenia, considering the €170 million worth deal a good sign that Union has not lost its interest in the country.
“The door has never been locked; opening it is just a matter of good will. Armenia has a desire to open the doors to Europe, and those doors are open to us
“So it is important to understand in this context that all countries apart from the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic are foreign states and all languages apart from Armenian – foreign langayegs for the Republic of Armenia,” he said.
The minister further stressed the importance of prioritizing state and state values, noting that any other ideals should be rejectable for national state figures and national political forces. “I have repeated it and want to say once again that in foreign relations, we serve only our own national and state interests, making them compatible with our colleagues’ approaches.” he added.

Those Who Sew Do Not Reap Profit

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15:34, November 4, 2014

By Nino Bakradze

You don’t have to go to Southeast Asia to find sweatshops where workers toil under harsh conditions to make clothing for rich Western consumers.  A reporter for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) posing as a textile worker found such conditions in the Republic of Georgia.

Conditions are ripe for abuse in the country of 4-plus million which has no separate labor ministry, no labor inspectors, and an embarrassingly low minimum wage, yet OCCRP found two Kutaisi textile factories that manage to break what labor laws do exist.

Meanwhile, Georgian officials point to the weak protection laws as evidence of their “business friendly environment.”

EU Launches New Support Program For Armenia

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Over the next three years, the European Union will provide between €140 and € 170 million to Armenia for private sector, public administration and justice reforms, it emerged on Monday.

The relevant Memorandum of Understanding launching the Single Support Framework for EU support to Armenia was signed in Brussels by newly appointed Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, and Armenian Minister of Economy Karen Chshmaritian.

On the first official working day in his new competence as Commissioner, Hahn stated: “The EU and Armenia are committed to continuing cooperation in areas of mutual interest based on shared values. We support the country’s modernization efforts and we will continue encouraging necessary reforms in Armenia.”

Minister Lidington: UK Regards Armenia as Important Partner

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13:31, November 3, 2014

David Lidington, the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Europe, met with Armenia Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian and discussed options to further strengthen political, commerce and business ties between the two countries.

The two ministers agree that for such ties to expand Armenia must first take steps to improve and strengthen the efficacy of its legal sector.

Minister Lidington said that the United Kingdom regards Armenia as an important partner in the region and that his visit is aimed at reinvigorating cooperation between London and Yerevan.

Nalbandian described the efforts of Armenia and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs to peacefully resolve the Karabakh conflict and, in turn, Lidington said that Great Britain supported this process.

Armenia’s EEU deal to meet public resistance – opinions

November 3, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe No Comments
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While Armenia’s treaty to accede to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is pending ratification by the National Assembly, opinions that the deal may meet public resistance remain dominating in certain public and political circles.
Alen Simonyan, an activist of the civic group European Choice, says he sees that the issue surprisingly remains on the political agenda, without any future steps having been coordinated and agreed on.
“And the sanctions are not directed only to the steps which will demonstrate that there are opponents to the Eurasian integration idea inside the country … what if the ratification is disputed? It must be prevented in every possible way, and I believe that something will be done both in and outside the National Assembly, and in the streets,” he told Tert.am.
Levon Barseghyan, another member of the group who heads the Gyumri-based journalists’ club Asparez, said he doesn’t expect the opponents to be powerful enough to influence the voting process in parliament. Describing the deal as a kind of treachery against the third Republic of Armenia, Barseghyan said he finds that its ratification will be a blatant violation of country’s Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
“We’ll partially cede Armenia’s sovereignty – the resolution of economic, customs and budgetary issues – to a supranational body. And that’s all. Ceding our right to sovereign decision making means ceding our sovereignty,” he explained.
Commenting on the issue, Azat Arshakyan, a Soviet-era dissident and a former political prisoner, said he believes that 95% of Armenia’s population (those who voted for independence in 1991 or their descendent) is opposed to the idea.
“That mass reacted to that on September 21 [1991], and it bears the responsibility for the decision. And the next generation too, says ‘we have voted; we are Armenians’. So I don’t think the Armenian nation finds that it waged a battle which it lost. The Armenian nation loves freedom, but for tactical considerations, it allows only activists to speak on its behalf. And this is enough; to the extent that there are people voicing [the demands],” he added.

Europe For ‘Stronger’ Relations With Eastern European Countries

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The European Union wants its relations with post-Soviet countries to grow stronger despite the current tensions with Russia, a visiting British official said in Yerevan on Monday.

Minister of State at the British Foreign Office David Lidington was on an official visit to Armenia during which he, in particular, held meetings with the country’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and President Serzh Sarkisian.  

Speaking at a joint press conference with Nalbandian, Lidington, replying to a question from RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on whether the current tense relations between the West and Russia would also affect the EU’s attitude towards Russia’s allies, such as Armenia, which is going to join a Russian-led trade bloc, the Eurasian Economic Union, in January.

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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

Capitalism Run Amok Is Just Plain Capitalism

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16:37, January 17, 2015

By Markar Melkonian

The source of Armenia’s misery and humiliation, we often hear, is not capitalism per se, but rather “gangster capitalism,” “a broken system,” “capitalism run amok.”

The goal for the future, then, is to “fix the system,” to reform capitalism, to make it more like regular, pure, genuine Free Enterprise, the kind of capitalism that works. But what if Armenia’s actually existing capitalism already is genuine capitalism?

An economist once observed that the only existential meaning of “enterprise” in the term free enterprise is “whatever capitalists happen to be doing at the time”–and “free” is the accompanying demand that they be allowed to do it.

Ukraine: Cops Go After Casinos, Suggest Yanukovych Connection

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21:45, December 15, 2014

Ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs has launched a campaign against illegal casinos amid fears that a large network of underground gambling dens could be providing an income source for the son of the country’s disgraced former president Viktor Yanukovych.

The new crackdown on unlawful casinos – an ongoing scourge for law enforcement agencies in Ukraine since regulation was made stiffer with a 2009 law – was launched on Dec. 8 after an announcement on Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov’s official Facebook page.

Avakov, who keeps a lively and occasionally angry Facebook commentary on current affairs, pledged to put a complete stop to the establishments within ten days; first in the capital of Kyiv, then the rest of the nation.

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.