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Taron-Avia: The Next Armenian Air Carrier?

May 11, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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14:36, May 11, 2015

On April 30, a company called Taron-Avia operated a flight from Yerevan’s Zvartnots Airport to Amman, the capital of Jordan.

We sent a letter to Armenia’s General Department of Civil Aviation (GDCA) to find out more about this flight.

The GDCA responded that the flight was connected to the airplane’s technical servicing. There is no news about the plane’s return to Yerevan. The company, by the way, is based at the Erebouni Airport, not Zvartnots.

While Taron Avia stated on its website that it would be operating regular and charter flights with Boeing 737-500 type aircraft for the summer 2015 season (March –October), the GSCA claims that right now isn’t reviewing any petitions to operate air routes. In fact, the company has no such permits.

Azerbaijan: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Baku Bureau Finally Closed

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21:02, May 11, 2015

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Baku office has officially closed.

Azeri authorities raided the bureau in December 2014,interrogatingemployees and seizing computer equipment.

The premises were sealed off to staff, although the media service continued working from outside that office.

The owners of the office space, which formed part of a business center, reportedly asked RFE/RL not to return. RFE/RL had operated from the premises since 2006.

Prosecution investigator Sanan Pashayev allowed staff to enter the office on May 6 to clear out their possessions, according toPanorama.

The RFE/RL Baku team will continue its work in Prague, according to recentreports.

The closure is part of a wider trend of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and media outlets finding themselves unable to continue operating in Azerbaijan.

Europe Seeks UN Approval to Use Military Might Against Human Traffickers

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21:09, May 11, 2015

By Michael Mattson

World leaders continue the search for solutions this week to a human trafficking crisis in the Mediterranean.

Last month,more than 800 migrants were killedin a tragedy that has been called the Mediterranean’s worst in living memory. In response, the European Union (EU) Commission proposed a ten-point action plan to tackle human trafficking networks, which recommended the use of military action to identify, seize and destroy boats before they are used by traffickers.

The UN Security Council met last Monday to draft a resolution that would authorize the EU to carry out its action plan, which particularly targets traffickers in Libya. Today (Monday) EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini is appearing before the Council to lobby for permission to use force.

Pilot Project to Modernize Yerevan’s Street Lights

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13:15, May 11, 2015

Armenia today signed a loan agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (ERBD) for a pilot program designed to update Yerevan’s street lights.

The ERBD will provide $4 million to modernize Yerevan’s street lighting system by introducing new energy-efficient technologies.

The EBRD’s sovereign loan will be on-lent to the Street Lighting Company owned by the city of Yerevan. The loan is expected to be complemented by a capital grant of up to $2 million from the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P). Technical cooperation for project preparation was financed by the TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund and the EBRD’s own resources.

Turkish Envoy In Luxembourg Recalled After Genocide Resolution


Turkey has condemned the parliament of Luxembourg for recognizing the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire and recalled its ambassador to the European Union country in protest.

“We condemn and strongly reject the unfair resolution the Luxembourg Parliament has adopted by distorting the historical facts and the law,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Thursday evening.

“The resolution demonstrates that the Luxembourg Parliament is far from understanding the UN Convention of 1948 [on the crime of genocide] to which it refers and commits the same error with some of its role model parliaments,” it said. “If Parliaments put themselves in the place of international courts and try to render judgments on such a serious crime such as genocide, they would abuse history and law.”

EU Suspends $1.1 Billion in Romania Funding Over Corruption Complaints

May 8, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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20:54, May 8, 2015

The European Union has suspended €1 billion (US$ 1.13 million) in funding to Romanian projects, according to an announcement made by Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Thursday.

Ponta said the suspension was due to complaints about corruption in public works projects, according to theAssociated Press.

When a complaint is made about a project, an investigation is launched, and funding cannot longer be drawn from the EU until the case is completed.

Ponta said that if by Dec. 31 officials had not resolved probes into the affected projects, which relate to water supply and public transportation, funding would need to be sourced within the state budget instead.

Biden Attends Armenian Genocide Remembrance Service In U.S.


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden joined President Serzh Sarkisian and over two thousand Armenian Americans at Washington’s National Cathedral late on Thursday in a remembrance ceremony that marked the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.

The ecumenical prayer service led by the supreme heads of the Armenian Apostolic Church was also attended by top clerics of the Roman Catholic, Russian and Syriac Orthodox and American Evangelical churches as well as the secretary general of the World Council of Churches, Olav Fykse Tveit. The two-hour service featured sermons delivered by them and a speech by Sarkisian.

Wildlife Legislation Lacking: Armenia Falters Regarding its CITES Obligations

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21:00, May 7, 2015

When it comes to legislation preventing the illegal trade in wildlife, Armenia is dragging its feet.

This sobering evaluation, that legislation on the books in Armenia does meet the requirements for the effective implementation of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), was part of a report released this week by the CITES National Legislation Project (NLP).

According to the latest NLP figures 88 countries and 13 dependent territories need to strengthen their legal frameworks for the effective implementation of CITES, including to combat illegal trade in wildlife.

The NLP looked at the 180 signatories to the CITES and ranked their wildlife legislation according to three categories:

ABMDR Leaders Attend Scientific Conference in Geneva

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12:54, May 7, 2015

Dr. Frieda Jordan, president of the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR), Dr. Sevak Avagyan, executive director of the organization, and Armine Hyusyan, supervisor of the ABMDR Lab in Yerevan, participated in the 29th European Immunogenetics and Histocompatibility Conference.

Organized by the European Federation of Immunogenetics (EFI), the conference took place at the Geneva Conference Center in Geneva, Switzerland, from April 26-29.  

Drs. Jordan and Avagyan represented Armenia at the prestigious event, which was attended by scientists, doctors in the fields of immunogenetics and transplantation, and representatives of national bone marrow donor registries from throughout the globe.

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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.


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.