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Former German ambassador to Armenia makes statement on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

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Former German Ambassador to Armenia Hans-Jochen Schmidt made a statement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
According to the European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA), Mr Schmidt attaches paramount importance to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, through the OSCE Minsk Group mediation and on the basis of the Madrid principles.
The alarming number of victims is a political signal that the instability in the South Caucasus will continue growing without the interested parties’ greater political will to break the stalemate in the negotiations. The runaway arms race is affecting the situation in the South Caucasus. It is politically counterproductive when a state supposed to act as mediator in the peace process is one of the major arms suppliers, Mr Schmidt said.
He regrets that the international community has not properly condemned the continuous arms supply to the South Caucasus thereby allowing one of the political regimes to resort to militant rhetoric.
It is a political necessity that all the parties concerned be involved in the peace process.

Belarus Leader Concerned Over Armenian Entry Into Russian-Led Bloc

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President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus has reiterated his apparent misgivings about Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EUU) comprising his country.

Lukashenko discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin late on Thursday in a phone call that reportedly focused on Russia’s decision to ban food imports from Europe and the United States in retaliation for Western economic sanctions.

“The heads of state also discussed cooperation within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union and its enlargement,” Lukashenko’s press office said in a statement. “The position to the effect that Armenia’s accession to it must not occur to the detriment of the Customs Union’s interests was reaffirmed.”

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The Yin and Yang of War and Peace

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15:09, August 8, 2014

By Marineh Khachadour

Here is a disclaimer: I want peace, and I want it now! Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine…I don’t want another country added to this list, especially the place of my birth, which I think of as my homeland.

Russia in trade talks with Belarusian, Kazakh presidents in wake of food ban

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Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev the coordination of trade and economy after Russia imposed food import embargo against a number of Western countries, RIA Novosti reported, citing the Kremlin’s press center.
“Various aspects were discussed on the aspects of integrated cooperation within the Eurasian Economic Union that is being created, including the coordination of activities in the trade and economic areas after decisions were taken on the limitations of imports of several types of agricultural goods and foodstuffs from the EU, the US, and a number of other countries into Russia,” the Kremlin said.
“During an exchange of opinions on the development of the crisis situation in Ukraine, the need for constructive joint work in various formats were emphasized with the goal of mutual action in halting military activities and the launch of an actual political internal Ukrainian dialogue,” the Kremlin added.
Russia is going to rely on its economic partners outside the European Union for agricultural imports. At present, it is seeking to replace essential EU deliveries by products from blocs that Russia is a member of, including the fledgling Eurasian Economic Union (EAU) and the BRICS group of emerging economies.
Both Kazakhstan and Belarus are the founding members of the Eurasian Economic Union. Belarus earlier pledged to widen the range of its exports to Russia by including noodles, vegetables, groceries, confectionary products, meat and dairy products.On Thursday, Russia unveiled its list of banned agriculture products from the United States, European Union and other countries that imposed US-backed sanctions against Russia earlier.
Read more on the RIA Novosti website. 

Russia bans agricultural products from West

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Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree on the full ban for imports of beef, pork, poultry meat, fish, cheese, milk, vegetables and fruit from Australia, Canada, the EU, the US and Norway.
The ban will last a year, starting August 7, reports Russia Today.
Medvedev also said that the country was considering a ban of transit flights for European and US Airlines to the Asia-Pacific region.
Medvedev said sanctions were a “dead-end track”, but Russia has been forced to respond to the measures taken by the western countries.
Alcohol imports from both the EU and the US will not be restricted.
“We are actually speaking of an embargo on imports of whole categories of products from countries which have introduced sanctions against Russian organizations and individuals,” Medvedev said.
Medvedev believes the year-long embargo Russia is imposing will boost domestic agriculture.
“We are only lagging behind in production of certain varieties of meat and milk. We have to catch up and our farmers are ready to do so, especially if we help them.”
Medvedev also said he sincerely hoped “our partners’ economic pragmatism will prevail over bad political decisions, and they will think before trying to frighten Russia and impose restrictions on it. And mutual trade and economic partnership will be restored in the volumes which existed before. We would have liked that to happen.”
Dmitry Medvedev instructed the Federal Customs Service (FCS) to see that the banned imports could not cross the Russian border.

United Kingdom Urges Armenia and Azerbaijan to Reduce Tensions

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11:11, August 5, 2014

Yesterday, the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued the following statement regarding developments along the Artsakh line of contact.

The past week has seen reports of a rapidly deteriorating situation on the Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact and the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Reports of increasing numbers of fatalities and the use of more advanced military equipment pose one of the most worrying violations of the ceasefire in its 20 year history.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office Spokesperson said:

 “The UK appeals to both Armenia and Azerbaijan to take immediate action to reduce tensions and respect the 1994 ceasefire agreement. We are deeply saddened by the continuing loss of life on all sides. Recalling the statement of Minister for Europe David Lidington on the 20th anniversary of the ceasefire in May, we urge the parties to work with the OSCE’s Minsk Group Co-Chairs towards a peace agreement.”

UN’s Ban urges for observing ceasefire over Karabakh

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced his opposition to the renewed fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in the South Caucasus, urging the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides to respect a ceasefire agreement.In a statement from his spokesperson, Mr Ban said he shares the deep concerns expressed by the Co-Chairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, the group driving efforts to find a peaceful solution to conflict, and other international partners, reports the UN News center.Mr Ban “urges all parties to respect the ceasefire agreement, refrain from further violence and commit themselves to immediate de-escalation and continuing dialogue in the pursuit of a rapid and peaceful political solution,” according to the statement.
Aiming to resolve what he described as a “dangerous situation,” Mr. Ban expressed his full support for the efforts by the OSCE and other parties working to resolve the conflict. 

Greener Shores? The Travails of Armenians Seeking Refuge in France

August 4, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Georgia No Comments
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09:30, August 4, 2014

I’m in a Paris suburb, boarding a bus.

It’s the afternoon and the bus isn’t crowded. But it’s hard to see faces; everyone is either reading a book or hidden behind a telephone.

Suddenly, a phone rings. “Yeah, I’m on the bus right now,” I hear someone say in the dialect of Armenia.

I listen in to the conversation. “That Tibet woman is very slovenly. She doesn’t clean up after herself. When I tell her, she reprimands me. I don’t know what to do,” says the woman on the phone.

It’s a conversation full of complaints about her life in France and about the Tibetan neighbor she was allotted in the government housing project for people waiting for French residency papers.

EU urges conflicting sides to observe ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh

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The European Union calls on the conflicting parties in Nagorno-Karabakh, the subject of an unresolved dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia, to observe the ceasefire, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Sunday, RIA Novosti reported.
“We are very concerned by the latest armed incidents which caused a number of casualties along the Line of Contact and the Armenian-Azerbaijani State border in recent days. We call on both sides to immediately respect the ceasefire, refrain from the use of force or any threat thereof, and continue efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the spokesman said in a statement.
The EU is ready to engage in renewed efforts towards a political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and contribute to peace-building efforts, in full complementarity with the OSCE Minsk Group, the spokesperson added.
“We reiterate our full support to the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and the work of the three Co-Chairs, especially with regard to the need to continue negotiations at the highest level, as was agreed at the meeting between Presidents Sargsyan and Aliyev in Vienna on November 19, 2013,” the statement reads.Tensions along the contact line of Nagorno-Karabakh with Azerbaijan have been running high over the past few days. The ceasefire regime in the region has been violated several times, leading to casualties.Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said 14 Azeri servicemen have been killed and several others have been wounded. Defense officials of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic said at least three people on their side have died.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are still technically at war after a conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s, left some 30,000 people dead. A ceasefire was agreed on in 1994, but a permanent peace deal has still not been signed.

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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

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.

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.