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Russia, Ukraine, EU gas talks fail to reach deal

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Russia, Ukraine and the EU have failed to reach an agreement during gas talks in Brussels. Negotiations will continue on Tuesday or Wednesday, EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said after the fifth round of the three-party talks, the rt.com reports.Oettinger specified that there are some remaining open issues and different positions between the parties.He indicated that talks will continue tomorrow as Ukrainian and Russian delegates talk with their governments and decide if they want to continue the negotiations.”The talks will continue either Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning,” Commission spokeswoman Sabine Berger told Reuters.Russia, Ukraine and the EU for the first time discussed the price for the supplied Russian gas to Ukraine, including payments for June-August, Russia’s Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said after the three-party gas talks ended.Russia has proposed “a very constructive plan, which we believe all stakeholders could and should accept,” Novak said, including the repayment schedules for the remaining debt Ukraine owes Gazprom.$1.454 billion of Ukraine’s undisputed debt to Gazprom remains unpaid. This is the debt for Russian gas delivered to Ukraine in November and December of 2013.The parties discussed repayments for the past November-December supplies, Novak said, adding that the need to pay back $1.451 billion by June 10 remains unchanged, as well as the partial repayment of $500 million debt accumulated for April and May.Earlier on Monday, Ukraine’s energy and coal industry minister Yury Prodan said Kiev will pay the debt for Russian gas after the new gas price is confirmed.Gazprom says Ukraine owes it $4.46 billion in unpaid bills and is running up more debt at a rate of more than $1 billion per month. Meanwhile, Kiev says its debt for 2013 and 2014 as of April 1 stood at $2.2 billion. It paid $786 million last week which covered the gas supplied in the first quarter of this year.Ukraine receives about half of its natural gas from the Russian energy giant, and about 16 percent of Europe’s annual demand passes through Ukrainian pipelines.A compromise agreement reached in May was broken by Kiev after it failed to repay $2 billion to Gazprom. The second part of that deal included another $500 million to be paid no later than June 7.On Monday, Aleksey Miller said that Gazprom will wait another seven days for the debt to be paid in full before it switches Kiev to a prepayment system for natural gas.
 

US didn’t finance November protests in Kiev – Nuland

June 10, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe No Comments
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US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing in Kiev on Tuesday that the United States did not finance protests that sparked off in Kiev in November 2014.But she also said that since 1991 the US has been helping Ukraine regularly to carry out key reforms, providing about $5 billion in aid to Ukraine to promote development in various areas.The US implemented similar projects to aid Russia, totaling $18 billion since 1991, she said. The US is ready to continue supporting Ukraine’s efforts to implement reforms and has an additional $48 million for this purpose, she said. This aid is expected to be put into economic stabilization, into efforts to combat corruption, into constitutional reform and work to strengthen Ukraine’s national security, Nuland said.The US is happy to support the people of Ukraine at a time when Ukraine is beginning a new period, she said.

Cypriot Consulting Company v Armenia’s Control Chamber: ‘Your inaccuracies are potentially damaging to our company’s reputation’

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11:19, June 10, 2014

The Cyprus registered company Four Assist Development Consulting Ltd (4Assist) has taken the Control Chamber of Armenia to task for publishing a number of inaccuracies regarding 4Assist that appeared in its “2013 Annual Report”, demanding that corrections be made.

In a May 21, 2014 letter penned by 4Assist Authorised Representative Maria Tasioula to Control Chamber Chairman Ishkhan Zakaryan, she writes that the report contained “certain inaccuracies regarding the project “Implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards Strategy 2” that we [4Assist] implemented from June 2012 to June 2013 on behalf of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Armenia.”

Global private wealth hits $152tn

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The amount of private wealth held by households globally surged more than 14% to $152 trillion (90tn) last year, boosted mainly by rising stock markets, the BBC reports.
Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, led the surge with a 31% jump to $37tn.
The number of millionaire households also rose sharply, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group.
The report takes into account cash, deposits, shares and other assets held by households. But businesses, real estate and luxury goods are excluded.
“In nearly all countries, the growth of private wealth was driven by the strong rebound in equity markets that began in the second half of 2012,”the firm said in its report.
“This performance was spurred by relative economic stability in Europe and the US and signs of recovery in some European countries, such as Ireland, Spain and Portugal.”
The amount of wealth held in equities globally grew by 28% during the year, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) said.
Economies in Asia have been key drivers of global growth in the recent years. And households in the region have benefitted from this growth.
Within the region, China has been the biggest driver – with private wealth in the country surging more than 49% in 2013.
High saving rates in countries such as China and India has also been a key contributing factor to this surge.
The wealth held in the region is expected to rise further, to nearly $61tn by the end of 2018.
“At this pace, the region is expected to overtake Western Europe as the second-wealthiest region in 2014, and North America as the wealthiest in 2018,” BCG said.
The pace of wealth creation in China was also evident in the growth in the number of millionaire households – in US dollar terms – in the country, rising to 2.4 million in 2013, from 1.5 million a year ago.
Overall, the total number of millionaire households in the world rose to 16.3 million in 2013, from 13.7 million in 2012.
According to the report, private wealth in:
• North America rose by 15.6% to $50.3tn
• Western Europe, which includes UK, Germany and France, rose by 5.2% to $37.9tn
• Eastern Europe, which includes Russia, Poland and Czech Republic, jumped by 17.2% to $2.7tn
• Latin America rose by 11.1% to $3.9tn
• Middle East region increased by 11.6% to reach $5.2tn

EU not ready to adopt Ukraine as its member yet – French FM

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France has claimed that the EU is not prepared to admit Ukraine to membership.This statement made by Laurent Fabius on the air of the i-tele TV channel shattered the Ukrainian president elect’s hopes to establish closer ties with Europe, the InoTV reports.”During his inauguration ceremony Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko made a rather pro-European speech. Even before the EU members expressed consent to admit Ukraine, Poroshenko believes that an association agreement with the EU is the initial step to Ukraine’s accession to the EU. However, during talks with our European partners most of them obviously did not share Poroshenko’s view. That’s a fact,” the French foreign minister said.Fabius is convinced that Ukraine should maintain good relations with both Russia and the EU. On Saturday, Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko expressed an intention to accede the EU and reestablish ties with Russia. In addition, French President Francois Hollande positively mentioned the short meeting of the Russian and Ukrainian leaders Vladimir Putin and Petr Poroshenko in France. He said that this could be a sign of de-escalation of the conflict between the two neighbouring countries.It is worth mentioning that earlier the leader of the National Front party Marine Le Pen expressed a similar view. In her opinion, Ukraine will not become a member of the EU, among other things due to its low economic level, and the EU is in many ways responsible for provoking a conflict in Ukraine. 

Officials may face probe for Hrant Dink murder

June 6, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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Key officials could face a probe regarding the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink on charges of intent or negligence after an Istanbul court overturned a previous ruling, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
An Istanbul court has lifted a previous decision, which has ruled there was no need for sanctions against the former deputy governor of Istanbul, Ergun Gngr, Istanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah, former Istanbul Police Department Intelligence Head Ahmet İlhan Gler and six police officers regarding the 2007 assassination.
The court recommended an investigation into nine officials following a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision. A lawyer for the Dink family, Hasan Bakırcıoğlu, confirmed that it is now legally possible for a probe against Gngr, Cerrah, Gler and six police officers.
Dink, the highly esteemed former editor-in-chief of weekly Agos, was murdered in broad daylight in front of his newspaper’s building on Jan. 19, 2007, by a 17-year-old Turkish nationalist. The triggerman, Ogn Samast, was convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to 22 years and 10 months of prison after a two year-trial, but lawyers representing the Dink family have repeatedly expressed their dismay over the way the investigations and the trial were conducted.
His assassination sent shockwaves through Turkey and grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that the security forces knew of a plot to kill Dink, but failed to act.
Backing up widespread accusations of a state conspiracy, another key figure in the trial, Erhan Tuncel, claimed in December 2013 that he had informed the police of the plan, but that his warnings went unheeded.
There have been suggestions that the killing was a result of “deep state” work, but the court said there was no organization behind the murder. According to reports, Dink was called to a police department and “warned” about the plot against him, fueling belief that the murder was known by some institutions within the state beforehand.

Alien Robots to the Rescue: Activists Enlist Polish Filmmakers to Save Old Zvartnots Terminal

June 6, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Film, Video No Comments
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11:54, June 6, 2014

A group of activists in Armenia opposed to the dismantling of the old Soviet era terminal at Zvartnots International Airport have turned to Polish filmmakers as allies in their struggle.

The unexpected move is based on the fact that in the late 1980s Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Gradowski used the airport terminal to shoot a scene for his science fiction fantasy film Mr. Blob in the Universe (“Pan Kleks w kosmosie”).

The accompanying video shows a scene from the movie where the alien robots march under the Zvartnots terminal.

Asian stocks rise after ECB actions

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Asian stocks rose after the European Central Bank introduced aggressive easing measures aimed at stimulating the eurozone economy, BBC News reports.
The ECB become the first major central bank to introduce negative interest rates, which will see it become cheaper for banks to lend money to businesses.
It cut the deposit rate for banks to zero to -0.1% and reduced the benchmark interest rate to 0.15% from 0.25%.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 opened 0.4% higher while Australia’s ASX 200 rose 0.3%.
This followed a rally on Wall Street on Thursday, which saw the S&P 500 and Dow close at a new record high.
European stock markets and the euro currency also logged gains after the ECB announcement.
In addition to the interest rate cuts, the ECB will offer a package of cheap long-term loans to banks which are worth up to 400bn euros (325m).
ECB President Mario Draghi also signalled there may be more easing measures to come.
“Are we finished? The answer is no,” he said in response to a question about the potential for more stimulus.
CMC Markets analyst Max Ho called the ECB’s moves “well-telegraphed” but “drastic” in nature.

Turkey’s presidential election on OSCE radar

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Irregularities and controversies that forced authorities to cancel some of the March 30 local election results in Turkey have moved Europe’s security body to announce that a mission will observe the country’s upcoming first direct presidential election,reportsHurriyet Daily News.
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) undertook a Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) to Turkey between May 7 and 9 upon an official invitation from the Turkish authorities to observe the presidential election which will be held in two rounds in August.
“The majority of OSCE/ODIHR NAM interlocutors expressed a certain level of confidence in the electoral process and referenced the country’s long-standing tradition of democratic practices,” said a report, drafted after this mission and dated June 3, in its “Conclusions and Recommendations” section.
“However, they also raised particular concern with the new legal framework and its possible gaps and shortcomings and noted a recent weakening of general public confidence in the authorities, particularly following the recent local elections,” added the report.
“Some previous OSCE/ODIHR recommendations remain unaddressed and most OSCE/ODIHR NAM interlocutors stated that they would welcome an OSCE/ODIHR observation activity for the upcoming election, with some having emphasized the necessity of the OSCE/ODIHR’s longer-term presence. A number of aspects could merit attention by an OSCE/ODIHR election observation activity, including the new legal framework; campaign finance provisions; the conduct of the electoral campaign; and the work of the media,” it said.

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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

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.