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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.

Cassilas and Messi in new Lay’s ad (video)

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No further threats to Armenia if Azerbaijan pressured into joining EaU – Hovhannes Igityan

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In an interview with Tert.am, Hovhannes Igityan, Board member, Armenian National Congress (ANC) party, spoke of the possibility of Azerbaijan joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EaU) due to Russia’s “stick and carrot policy,” with Nagorno-Karabakh being the “carrot.”Mr Igityan, Russia has invited Azerbaijan to the EaU. Do you think this is an even more dangerous and unpromising situation for Armenia or balances out our positions if we join the EaU?We know about a statement to this effect. But first of all, we should note the nascent EaU is so bad that states, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, are pressured into joining it. Secondly, I think that great pressure has to be exerted on Azerbaijan for it to join the EaU because its economic policy does not meet the EaU standards. But even if Azerbaijan is pressured into joining, I do not see any further threats to Armenia. Rather, it is going to show weak points in Azerbaijan’s economy, and Azerbaijan may lose its reputation in the civilized world. In this respect, Armenia could even benefit.But when did Azerbaijan enjoy a good reputation in the civilized world, given its traditional handover of power from father to son, authoritarian rules and rigged elections?If we compare with Armenia, at least during the negotiations over an Association Agreement with the European Union, Azerbaijan is in a more favorable situation than Armenia, as Azerbaijan did not for four years running stated its readiness to join the Deep and Comprehensive Area. And the EU did not for years waste efforts and money on Azerbaijan. And Azerbaijan did not make an about-turn in one day. In this respect, Azerbaijan was more honest than Armenia, pointing out its neutrality to both the Association Agreement and the Customs Union.In the context of the stick and carrot policy, can Nagorno-Karabakh become the “carrot” Azerbaijan could get if it joins the EaU?Azerbaijan gets “carrots” from Russia now and again – large supplies of weapons, for example. But I do not think Russia will use Nagorno-Karabakh as a “carrot” for Azerbaijan because it would be the last resort in Russia’s hands – both for Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia will thus always make both the sides dependent. 

OSCE Head Hopes For Armenian-Azeri Summit


Armenia – Switzerland’s President Didier Burkhalter at a press conference in Yerevan, 4Jun2014.

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Obama: ‘We cannot be complacent in defense of freedom’

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US President Barack Obama has restated his county’s “unwavering commitment” to defend the freedom of democratic states in Eastern Europe, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the BBC reports.”We stand together now and forever, for your freedom is ours”, the president told delegates and crowds gathered to hear him speak in Warsaw.
His comments came as he visited Poland to mark the 25th anniversary of the end of communism there.

Source: TertOriginial Article

Welcome to Sealand! 22 residents of WW2-era fort off Suffolk coast claim it is world’s smallest country

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Lying six miles off the Suffolk coast, it appears to be an old oil platform, or perhaps the disused World War II fort it once was, according to the Daily Mail.But the Principality of Sealand, as residents call it, claims to be the world’s smallest country, with its own Royal Family, currency, and even postage stamps.The tiny state (though no other country officially recognizes it as such) occupies a 5,290sq ft (550sq m) edifice consisting of two concrete towers connected by an iron platform a few miles off Felixstowe, in international waters.But since 1967, Sealand’s residents – all 22 of them – have declared themselves independent of Britain.They produce their own drinkable water, and land their own fish and lobster, but have to import most of their food and other goods from the British mainland. The micronation even has its own currency, the Sealand Dollar, and its own football team, the Sealand All Stars.Residents make money by selling Sealand mementoes via an online shop, as well as titles: for £199.99 you can buy the title Count or Countess of Sealand, while you can settle for Lord or Lady for just £29.99.Alternatively, you can buy one square foot of the territory for £19.99, a mug or a football shirt.Sealand began on Christmas Eve 1966 after Roy Bates, a former infantry major in the first battalion Royal Fusiliers, took over the fort, then known as HM Roughs.The fort had been built as one of a series of defense forts off the Suffolk coast during World War II before being abandoned in the 1950s.Mr Bates, then 46, was a fisherman turned pirate radio broadcaster, who had fallen foul of British broadcasting laws and wanted to find a new base somewhere outside British jurisdiction.On Christmas Eve 1966, he took over Fort Roughs with his wife, Joan, daughter, Penelope, 16, and son, Michael, 16, and the following September he declared himself Prince of Sealand and his wife, Princess Joan.Thereafter followed a series of challenges, from the British government, who sent delegates to recce Sealand, to a group of German and Dutch ‘invaders’, but the Bates family – who gave themselves the motto E Mare Libertas (From The Sea, Freedom) – managed to hang on to the windy platform they had made their own.In October 2012, Roy Bates died at the age of 91, and the Sealand crown passed to his son, Michael, 63, who is still said to live on Sealand with his family and friends.The younger Mr Bates, aka His Majesty Prince Michael, has claimed that his micronation has been recognised by Germany and France. And he said Scottish people wanting to claim independence from the United Kingdom could seek inspiration from his father’s struggle.He said: ‘It hasn’t been easy for us, but the situation is different inasmuch as Scotland is heavily dependent on Britain and vice versa.’I don’t believe it will ever happen but if it does, they would have our support. The Scots are great and fiercely independent people.’He added: ‘We import from the UK and Europe most of our provisions, apart from local produce like fish and lobsters. We make our own water and are 99 percent green energy producing.’We have something like 30 rooms of various sizes, and most of our days are spent with office and IT work these days, processing orders from our online shop, security and maintenance.’The Bates family are also planning to run tourist trips to their platform later this year. 

EU Still ‘Reviewing’ Ties With Armenia


Armenia – An EU flag waved during an opposition rally in Yerevan, 1Mar2014.

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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.