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Poland Considers EU Political Accord With Armenia Possible

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Poland hopes that Armenia will specify its position on relations with the European Union at the next Eastern Partnership summit, outlining the limits of its possible cooperation with the 28-nation bloc, the country’s ambassador in Yerevan said on Wednesday.

The Eastern Partnership is an EU initiative launched in 2009 for a relationship with the post-Soviet states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Poland was one of the EU members that initiated the program.

Armenia was on track to sign an Association Agreement and form a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU until September 2003 when the South Caucasus country’s leadership decided to abandon the process and switch to another economic integration project led by Russia.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: “My job is to push the Armenian authorities to do more and to move faster”

March 10, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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19:35, March 10, 2015

Hetq speaks to Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, regarding his report released today based on his visit to Armenia in October 2014.

Despite the announced reforms in the judicial system, an examination of your report reveals that Armenia has not been able to ensure the independence of this sector. Thus, can we say that the reforms of the last ten years have not produced the desired results and, if so, why?

Council of Europe Commissioner Publishes Report On Armenia

March 10, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Europe, Top News No Comments
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Nils Muiznieks, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe (CE), has presented a report on Armenia based on the results of his visit to the South Caucasus country last October.

In his report the CE Commissioner addresses a number of issues concerning the administration of justice and the protection of human rights in the justice system of Armenia, in particular, in regards to the deadly 2008 post-election clashes, the conviction of an oppositionist’s teenage son, non-combat deaths in the Armenia and others.

Armenia Decides To Take Part In Baku Games

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Armenia will participate in this year’s inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan, a spokesperson for the head of the Armenian National Olympic Committee (ANOC) has confirmed.

Iveta Tonoyan said the decision was made by the ANOC’s executive committee on Tuesday.

In the Games to be held in Baku in June Armenia is expected to be represented in sambo (unarmed self-defense), shooting, judo, wrestling, boxing and taekwondo.

Armenia has been hesitating about its participation in the Games in a country with which it is in a de facto state of war over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian-populated region of Soviet Azerbaijan that broke free of Baku’s control in the early 1990s.

Archbishop Aram Ateshian: ‘Women from Armenia Come to Istanbul, marry Turks, and cover their heads’

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12:22, March 10, 2015

Hetq talks to Archbishop Aram Ateshian, General Vicar (Acting Patriarch) of the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople.

After being in Istanbul for a few months, I get the impression that the Armenian community in Turkey Armenia isn’t all that connected to Armenia.

Long before Armenia gained its independence, our community members had a desire to see the homeland and to visit our compatriots there. Afterwards, singers, song and dance troupes, intellectuals and other individuals came to Turkey and, of course, people from here visited Mother Armenia as well.

OCCRP Launches Secure Whistleblowing Platform

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14:20, March 10, 2015

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project is proud to launch its new, secure whistleblowing platform OCCRP Leaks today.

Developed in partnership with theHermes Center For Transparency and Digital Human RightsandHivos International, OCCRP Leaks provides a way for anybody in possession of public-interest information to pass it to OCCRP anonymously, helping to shine a light on wrongdoing and end corrupt practices from Eastern Europe to Central Asia.

Keeping whistle-blowers safe from the powers they seek to expose has historically been a challenge for media. OCCRP Leaks offers one of the most secure systems available online. The platform uses secure HTTPS encryption with the option of enhanced protection using the Tor browser, which can be downloaded fromthe OCCRPLeaks website.

Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Slovenia Discuss Bilateral Relations in Ljubljana

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14:29, March 10, 2015

Upon arriving in Ljubljana on March 9, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia Karl Erjavec and the two discussed propsects for greater bilateral relations between the two nations.

Welcoming the foreign minister of Armenia, Karl Erjavec expressed the hope that Edward Nalbandian’s visit would bring new impetus to the development of bilateral relations.

Expressing his thanks for the invitation to visit Slovenia, Foreign Minister Nalbandian said that Armenia is willing to deepen cooperation in different areas with Slovenia, and that it is the main message of his visit.

Armenia should intensify its efforts to ensure gender equality and protect human rights in the justice system

March 10, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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15:13, March 10, 2015

“Gender inequality and violence against women are serious human rights concerns in Armenia. More vigorous efforts are needed to address them,” said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, publishing thereportof his visit to Armenia from 5 to 9 October 2014.

The adoption of gender-related action plans and the 2013 Law on Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Women and Men are steps in the right direction, but extensive gender bias still hampers the effective empowerment and equal treatment of women. As a matter of priority, the Commissioner recommends eliminating all vestiges of gender bias in school curricula, the adoption of a comprehensive anti-discrimination law, an increase in women’s representation in public and political life, as well as more resolute measures to promote gender equality, including in the labour market.

Karabakh Court Rejects Azerbaijani Nationals’ Appeals

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A higher court in Nagorno-Karabakh has rejected the appeals by two Azerbaijani nationals who were convicted and jailed last year on charges of committing a number of crimes against the unrecognized ethnic Armenian republic.

Dilham Askerov and Shahbaz Quliyev were sentenced to life and 22 years in prison, respectively, in a 2014 trial that was not recognized by Azerbaijan as legal.

Askerov, 54, and Quliyev, 46, had been charged with murder, espionage, illegal border crossing, and illegal weapons possession.

Authorities in Stepanakert say the two were members of a group of saboteurs that crossed into the region controlled by ethnic Armenian forces in July last year and killed a teenager, an officer and wounded a woman. The third member of the group was allegedly killed while resisting arrest.

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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.

Commentary

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.