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JPMorgan, HSBC and Credit Agricole accused of euro rate-fixes

May 21, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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The European Commission has accuses JPMorgan, HSBC and Credit Agricole of colluding to fix a key euro benchmark borrowing rate – Euribor, the BBC reports.JP Morgan and HSBC will fight the charges. Credit Agricole will study the European Commission’s findings.Penalties for the guilty are up to 10% of annual revenue.Euribor is a cousin to Libor, which is used to set trillions of dollars of financial contracts from complex financial transactions to car loans.In December, the Commission imposed fines totalling 1.04bn on Barclays, Deutsche Bank, RBS and Societe Generale as part of the same investigation.Barclays escaped a fine as it had notified the Commission of the existence of the cartel, and the others were granted a 10% reduction in their fine for agreeing to a settlement.The EU’s competition body said: “The Commission has concerns that the three banks may have taken part in a collusive scheme which aimed at distorting the normal course of pricing components for euro interest rate derivatives.”JP Morgan said it had “co-operated fully with the European Commission throughout its investigation.” The bank said it believed that the competition concerns were “without merit”, and added it intended to “defend itself fully”.HSBC said: “We intend to defend ourselves vigorously.”The Commission’s investigation has centered around concerns that the banks may have manipulated the pricing of interest rate derivatives – financial products which are used by banks to manage risks associated with interest rate fluctuations.The products derive their value from “Euribor”, a benchmark interest rate which is the eurozone equivalent of Libor.In March 2013, the Commission opened proceedings regarding Credit Agricole, HSBC and JPMorgan, and the investigation as whether they were part of a Euribor rate-rigging cartel is continuing.Should the banks be fined, they will not receive any reduction in penalties, competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said. 

Armenian government’s program must be realistic – MPs

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The program of the government headed by Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan is realistic and cautious in terms of calculations, Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs, member of the Prosperous Armenia parliamentary group Mikael Melkumyan told Tert.am.
“It contains only three indices: minimum wages, 5% economic growth and reducing poverty down to 10%. I consider the targeted 5% economic growth unsatisfactory, but it is realistic for the government. However, with the current socio-economic situation in Armenia, 5% growth is unacceptable to us,” Melkumyan said.
He also considers unsatisfactory the government’s plans to raise the minimum monthly wage up to AMD 65,000 (about $160) by 2017 as the current cost is the basket of goods exceeds this amount even now.
With respect to risks, Melkumyan said that the program contains a “most interesting section,” which has to do with Armenia’s relations with Russia and the European Union.
“So the risks allowed for in the program are inevitable,” the MP said.
Head of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) parliamentary group Vahram Baghdasaryan believes that a program should be feasible.
“The government program should conform with our possibilities. We have nothing to conceal from anyone. And the government itself said ‘we have what we have’,” Baghdasaryan said.
“The program contains most interesting wordings dealing with the private sector: the government must create conditions for creation of jobs rather than create jobs themselves.”
The government will be right if it presents a program it can actually implement, Baghdasaryan said.

Apple, Google agree to drop smartphone patent suits

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Apple Inc. and Google Inc. (GOOG) have declared a cease-fire in their intellectual-property wars, Bloomberg Businessweekly reported.The two Silicon Valley technology giants said they are dropping lawsuits against one another and will work together to reform patent law. The suits to be dismissed involve patent disputes regarding Google’s Motorola Mobility handset unit. The deal doesn’t include Apple’s patent battles with Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), which uses Google’s Android software for mobile devices.“This could signal a new strategy on Apple’s part to focus its litigation efforts even more squarely on Samsung, which is by far the largest Android phone manufacturer,” said Brian Love, a Santa Clara University School of Law professor.The agreement signals a de-escalation in hostilities between two companies that have filed about 20 lawsuits against each other in the US and Europe and compete fiercely on many technology fronts. Apple’s iOS software and Google’s Android power the majority of the world’s smartphones and tablets and both are seeking to keep their pre-eminent positions in those growing markets. They are also dueling each other in areas including mobile maps and online music, among other products.
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Armenia, EU to deepen bilateral cooperation – premier

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Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan received on Friday Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Armenia Traian Hristea.
Armenia’s new government will continue active cooperation with the EU and do its utmost to develop this cooperation.
Ambassador Hristea congratulated Mr Abrahamyan on his appointment and commended his efficient activities as speaker of Armenia’s parliament. According to Mr Hristea, it is a good basis for further efficient cooperation.
Mr Hristea reaffirmed the EU’s willingness to implement reforms in different areas in Armenia and raise the level of bilateral cooperation.
The sides discussed prospects for further development of Armenia-EU relations and stressed that the process must proceed from a joint statement by Armenia and the EU at the Vilnius summit last November.

Armenia and EU: need a signed document or content and association?

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In speaking of Armenia’s further cooperation with the European Union (EU), one should put the following question: what do Armenia and the EU need – a signed document or the content of the document and association, Polish Ambassador to Armenia Zdzisław Raczyński told reporters in response to a question as to whether the EU has changed its position on Armenia given French President François Hollande’s statement that Armenia should continue relations with the EU.“I cannot recall the French president announcing his support of Armenia signing the political component of the Association Agreement. The French president only pledged his support to the process. The Armenian authorities are now chiefly dealing with the sectors of most efficient cooperation. Armenian government officials say they are ready for close cooperation in the fields that do would not run counter to Armenia’s membership in the Customs Union. We are supportive of this stance as well. But the problem is that Armenia is not a Customs Union member to be unable to specify the fields of cooperation or the points acceptable or unacceptable to it,” Mr Raczyński said.As to the reason why the EU adopted this position – affording an opportunity of cooperation within the limits of the possible – and if it may be the Ukraine developments, the diplomat said:“If my memory does not fail, at the Minsk summit the Russian president clearly stated the nations that were going to join the free trade zone would not have a chance to join the Customs Union. What we said is that the processes ongoing in the Customs Union and in the free trade zone were technically incompatible because customs duties are different in each of the unions. How can we make them compatible? It is impossible from the point of view of economic theory.”As to the possibility of political compatibility, Mr Raczyński said:“With respect to the political component, we stress that an Association Agreement is not a geopolitical project. So there is no political problem.”As to the Ukraine developments, they are the result of the country’s willingness to join the EU.“We do not want Ukraine to secede from the Commonwealth of Independent States nor do we speak of Ukraine’s membership in NATO. But, mostly probably, all that was against the interests of a state that saw a threat. Some countries just want to accept the proposals.”The Polish ambassador recalled the EU’s “more for more” approach – a European Neighborhood Policy member-state’s progress depends on its deeper involvement in the cooperation.With respect to the possibility of Armenia signing an Association Agreement with the EU, Mr Raczyński said:“I am convinced that [Armenia] decided in favor of acceding to the Customs Union after making in-depth analyses, which we respect. Association with one union or another is not an end in itself. It is supposed to serve the country’s development and prosperity. During its 10-year membership in the EU Poland has recorded double GDP growth. I heartily wish Armenia 2.5-fold GDP growth after its 10-year membership in the Customs Union.” 

On Javakhk, Separatism, and Preserving the Armenian Language: An Interview with Tbilisi Mayoral Candidate

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11:02, May 15, 2014

The local self-government elections in Georgia will be held onJune 15. Members of local government councils, heads of regional administration, and mayors (including of Tbilisi, the capital) will be elected by vote. A new alliance was established in Georgia with the aim of participating in these elections — “Non-parliamentary opposition”. Free Georgia, one of the parties in the alliance, began its campaign also in Javakhk. Two days ago, representatives of the alliance paid a visit to the region and met with local residents, among them the alliance’s candidate for the Tbilisi mayoral election, Free Georgia party leader Kakha Kukava, who spoke with Hetq on the matter.

Why did you decide to visitJavakhkand what was your impression of the region?

Armenia’s Juvenile Justice System Needs Legislative Upgrade

May 14, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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10:59, May 14, 2014

Expert on children’s rights legislation and lecturer of criminal procedure law at the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) State University Anna Kurdova spoke with Hetq on the juvenile justice system in Armenia. 

What issues do you see in (Armenia’s) juvenile justice system?

Dirty Diesel

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18:20, May 14, 2014

By Tskriala Shermadini (Studio Monitori)

A cloud is hanging over the Republic of Georgia, a country that promotes itself as a tourism heaven of spectacular mountains and clean, fresh air.

Independent lab tests have confirmed what many Georgians suspected: much of the fuel burned by the nation’s drivers is far dirtier than would be allowed in any European Union country, and the country’s weak enforcement standards are giving rise to deeper worries about spikes in respiratory disease.

The tests show that the dirtiest fuel is coming from neighboring Azerbaijan, which may have policy implications for Georgia, since the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), which exports the fuel, is Georgia’s largest taxpayer. A sample of SOCAR diesel fuel tested 60 times higher than the current European standard.

Georgia to sign EU Association Agreement on June 27

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Georgia will sign Association Agreement with the European Union on June 27.The date was announced by Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili at Governmental Administration during a joint press conference which he held with Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, 1tv.ge reported.Herman Van Rompuy arrived in Georgia late on May 13. President of the European Council will meet with President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili. The high-ranking guest is also expected at European House where he will deliver a speech later this afternoon.
Georgia’s stability, security and perspectives of cooperation with EU will be discussed within the framework of the visit. It is the second visit of Herman Van Rompuy to Georgia. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

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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.