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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.


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


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.

Aliyev in Fighting Mood at PACE: Calls Some Deputies "Liars"

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16:09, June 24, 2014

 Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev exchanged verbal punches with deputies at today’s PACE plenary session in Strasbourg who raised concerns about human rights violations in Azerbaijan.

During a Q&A session after his speech, Aliyev went after Irish deputy Michael McNamara and accused him of being biased and misinformed on the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

Aliyev then turned his ire on Deputy Paul Flynn (UK) for daring to raise the issue of attacks against reporters in Azerbaijan.

Aliyev insisted no such incidents have been registered and angrily addressed Flynn – “You are lying.”

The president went on to claim that the press in Azerbaijan operates freely, there is no censorship, and freedom of speech is guaranteed.

Sarkisian Sees Eurasian Union Boost To Armenian-Georgian Ties


Georgia – President Giorgi Margvelashvili (R) and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian at a joint news conference in Tbilisi, 18Jun2014.

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Tiny robotic arm could operate on babies in the womb

June 18, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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Some birth defects in newborns could one day be a thing of the past due to new robotics technologies being developed to perform surgery on babies in the womb, the CNN reports.Spina bifida is one such disease, affecting approximately 1 in 2,500 newborns worldwide, where a lesion on the back leaves the spinal cord exposed in the womb, leading to severe disabilities, learning difficulties, and sometimes death.
The best option is to perform surgery to correct the problem before the baby is born but the complexities of such a procedure mean this currently only takes place in five countries worldwide. Most countries instead perform surgery after a child is born, but when the majority of damage has been done.
To reduce the risk involved in fetal surgery, scientists at University College London (UCL), and KU Leuven in Belgium are developing a miniscule robotic arm to enter the womb with minimum disruption to mother and baby. The robotics are targeting spina bifida but also lesser known conditions such as twin-twin transfusion syndrome, where blood passes unequally between twins who share a placenta, and fetal lower urinary tract obstruction, where babies are unable to urinate in the womb and their bladders become large and distended.
Surgery on fetuses has been effective in treating some conditions to date, but for spina bifida, the risks to mother and baby mean surgery is currently only performed in a handful of countries, where specialist teams exist.
“Most birth defects can be prevented if we can intervene earlier,” says Professor Sebastien Ourselin, from the UCL Center for Medical Image Computing, who is leading the new research project. “But currently, surgical delivery systems are not available and operating on babies in the womb is reserved for just a handful of the most severe defects as risks are too high.”
Ourselin’s team plans to develop a small three-armed robot, no more than 2 cm wide, to allow more surgeries to take place, as part of a $17 million project funded by the Wellcome Trust and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The device will consist of a photoacoustic camera that provides 3D imaging of the fetus in real time, which will help guide two flexible arms to deliver gels or patches to seal the gap in the spine of babies with spina bifida. If successful, the arms will be developed with more dexterity and degrees of freedom to perform surgery themselves and treat further conditions such as congenital heart disease.
They may even deliver stem cells as stem cell therapies progress. Once entry into the womb becomes safe, the potential is huge.
In countries where fetal surgery is currently performed, surgeons cut into the mother’s womb before 26 weeks of pregnancy, but there are health risks, side effects to mothers and risks of pre-term labor.
“Where surgery is available in Europe, people are reluctant and fearful of the side-effects,” explains Dr. Jan Duprest, who is leading the work at KU Leuvin and has patients declining surgery quite regularly. “Robotic surgery is becoming popular these days and we need to take advantage of that and improve not only the number of patients choosing surgery but also improve the freedom with which we can operate using these flexible probes.”
To have the best effect, surgery must take place before 26 weeks to prevent damage to the exposed spinal cord and the resulting disability. Ourselin wants to go in even earlier.
“We want to go in at 16 weeks to provide the greatest benefit to patients and no one is doing this yet,” concludes Ourselin. “The most important thing is to reduce the invasiveness of the procedure as you want to avoid causing pre-term labor. If we can make this possible, we want to expand treatment to be possible for all diseases which are already present at birth.”

Group Battling to Save Afrikyan Building in Yerevan Seeks Support of Diplomatic Missions

June 18, 2014 Armenia, Culture, Europe No Comments
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10:47, June 18, 2014

Letter to the European diplomatic missions to Armenia

Representation of the Council of Europe

Mr. OleksandrPavlyuk, Head of Representation

Delegation of the European Union to Armenia

H.E. Mr. TraianHristea, Ambassador, Head of Delegation

Embassy of the French Republic

H.E. Mr. Henri Reynaud, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany

H.E. Mr. Reiner Morell, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Embassy of the Hellenic Republic

H.E. Mr. IoannisTaghis, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Embassy of the Italian Republic

H.E. Mr. Giovanni Ricciulli, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania 

H.E. Mr. ErikasPetrikas, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

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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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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


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.