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EU Leaders agree to review agenda at Brussels summit

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EU leaders have agreed to re-evaluate the bloc’s agenda after voters “sent a strong message”, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has said, according to BBC News.Mr Van Rompuy said leaders of the 28 member states had asked him to launch consultations on future policies.He was speaking after a meeting in Brussels to discuss big election gains by populist and far-right parties.The results of the European Parliament election led to calls for an EU rethink by those leaders who suffered defeats.But despite gains by anti-EU groups, pro-European parties still won most votes overall.Tuesday’s summit was the first opportunity for leaders of all member states to discuss the way forward after last week’s polls.Mr Van Rompuy said the results of the European elections had shown “a mix of continuity and change” and that the Eurosceptic message from voters was “at the heart” of discussions between leaders.He said the meeting in Brussels had been a “useful first discussion” and that EU leaders had agreed on putting the economy at the heart of the group’s agenda.”As the Union emerges from the financial crisis it needs a positive agenda of growth,” he said, repeating a common refrain of what is needed to reverse growing anti-EU sentiment. 

Georgian president entitles premier to sign association deal with EU

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Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili will issue a special decree to give Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili the right to sign the Georgia-EU association agreement, Parliamentary Secretary of the President David Pataraia said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
“The constitution attributes the signing of this agreement to the prerogatives of the Georgian president but the government has decided the prime minister will sign this deal,” he said.
“The Georgian president will transfer his powers to the prime minister on a one-time basis so that the legitimacy of the prime minister’s signature is not called into question,” Pataraia said.
The Georgian government press service reported last week that the prime minister would sign the association agreement with the European Union in Brussels on June 27 in order to avoid unnecessary bureaucratic procedures, as the constitution required government approval of any international act signed by the president.
The decision triggered mixed feelings in Georgia. The opposition and some non-governmental organizations viewed the decision as illegal and said it was a form of the ongoing confrontation between the Georgian president and prime minister, which started several months ago with a public statement of former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili who disapproved of the president’s activity and called the prime minister the first official of the country, Interfax reports.

France for equal status for Armenia at negotiations with EU – Henri Reynaud

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There must be a way to Armenia’s association with the European Union (EU), and France is for Armenia to have an equal status at the negotiating table, French Ambassador to Armenia Henri Reynaud told reporters on Monday.“And we feel Armenia has this wish. To specify Armenia-EU relations the following slogan should be repeated: unity in diversity,” Reynaud said.The Armenian president’s decision in favor of Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union was a sovereign state’s decision.“And we are ready to respect this decision,” the ambassador said.With respect to the visa facilitation law, Mr Reynaud said that it has effectively been applied since it was enforced.This system is producing good results in Armenian-French relations. The tourist industry recorded a 50% increase in the first four months of 2014. 

Armenian Authors’ Works Attract Interest in International Literary Market

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11:48, May 26, 2014

Hetq spoke with First Armenian Literary Agency owner and literary agent Arevik Ashkharoyan about the interest in Armenian authors in the international market, as well as the reaction in Armenia to not only local authors’ works, but also translations of famous foreign literature. 

You represent Armenian writers at international literary platforms, mainly in Europe, coming into contact with foreign contemporaries in literature and their propaganda. Generally, what trends is the international literary market guided by?

It’s hard to speak of definite trends, since everything depends on what literature we’re talking about. If we look at bestsellers in this context, the trends are clear: they are those books that are not of very good quality and easily read, sometimes even very cheap pornographic or erotic literature. 

Yerevan Mum On Ukraine Election


Ukraine — Presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko gives a press conference in Kyiv, May 25, 2014

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Promoting Innovative Rural Tourism in the Black Sea Basin Region

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13:46, May 26, 2014

The Promoting Innovative Rural Tourism (PIRT) project partly funded by the EU on May 24 participated in the info fair organized as part of the Europe Day in Armenia week of events in order to raise public awareness and visibility of the project.

Project Coordinator Anna Arakelyan informed visitors to their booth about the project’s success and progress. She said that the project will strengthen regional cooperation and partnerships — through an exchange of experience and the integrated use of physical and human resources, which aims to improve tourism product standards and service quality.

Russia might have to look for alternative South Stream route – Putin

May 25, 2014 Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Russia might have to re-route the South Stream gas pipeline if problems on the European Union’s part with respect to the project continue, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with media bosses in St. Petersburg.
“If we continue to have problems with South Stream, and Brussels is constantly throwing a spanner in the works of this project, then we’ll look at other options via non-EU countries,” he said. In that even, Brussels will get “another transit country,” he said.
“Why they do this, in Brussels, I don’t know. But if they don’t obstruct us we are minded to carry these projects, both Nord Stream and South Stream, out,” he said.

Source: TertOriginial Article

Hollande says Brussels museum shootings were ‘anti-Semitic’

May 25, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Video No Comments
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France’s President Francois Hollande said on Sunday there was no doubt about the “anti-Semitic character” of the attack on a Jewish museum in Belgium which left three dead, including a Frenchwoman.
“The anti-Semitic character of this act, a shooting in the Jewish museum in Brussels with the intention to kill, is in no doubt,” said Hollande, speaking in his southwestern political stronghold of Tulle where he went to vote in the European elections.
Belgian police hunted down a gunman Sunday who shot dead three people including two Israelis in the attack reviving fears of a fresh wave of anti-Semitism in Europe.
The first attack against a Jewish target in Belgium for more than 30 years came as the country headed into a crucial general election and as a mammoth European ballot involving 400 million voters wound up.
“An election day is usually a celebration of democracy. Today it is clouded,” said Belgium’s Premier Elio Di Rupo. “It is in everyone’s mind.”
“In Belgium we are not accustomed to such acts of barbarity.”
Welcoming Pope Francis in the Holy Land, Israel’s premier Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the pontiff for his “determined stance against anti-Semitism, especially in light of the growing hatred of Jews that we are witness to in these days.”
Deputy public prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch confirmed that two Israelis were among the fatalities as well as a French woman. A fourth critically injured person was Belgian, she told a news conference.
Police had not been able to identify the gunman, who “probably” acted alone, she said, and was “well prepared and well armed.” A picture of the suspect will be released to the public shortly.
Saying there was no claim so far, she also said “I cannot confirm that it is a terrorist or anti-Semitic act” and added that “all leads remain open.
The attack has cast a pall across Europe as voters went to the polls.
It was the first fatal attack on a Jewish centre since the early 1980s in Belgium, home to some 40,000 Jews, roughly half of them living in Brussels, the remainder in Antwerp.
Netanyahu said the murders were “the result of constant incitement against Jews and their state”.
The head of the EU executive Jose Manuel Barroso condemned the “terrible act” in the heart of the European capital, saying: “This was an attack at European values which we cannot tolerate.”
The attack came on the eve of Sunday’s elections in Belgium for a new federal government as well as for its regional parliaments and the European Parliament.
Police late Saturday detained and interrogated a person who admitted having been at the scene at the time of the attack but denied involvement.
The person was initially interrogated as a suspect but later questioned as a witness, the public prosecutor’s office said.
Van Wymersch however said the person had been released but gave no further information.
An inquiry has been opened into “murder with premeditation”.
Van Wymersch said Saturday that police believed two men were involved — one who drove away from the scene in a car and was in police custody and one who escaped on foot and who had not yet been identified.
Detectives were examining video footage.
A Jewish community figure, Joel Rubinfeld, told AFP it clearly “is a terrorist act” after the two men were seen driving up and double-parking outside the museum.
One opened fire, allegedly shooting indiscriminately first in the entrance hall and then further inside before getting away.
The area around the museum was closed off and security strengthened to maximum level across the country in places associated with the Jewish community, said Interior Minister Joele Milquet.
There was no security at the museum and Jewish community leaders said there had been no threats.
The shooting lasted several minutes and took place at around 4 pm (1400 GMT), with the victims apparently shot in the face and throat.
The two Israelis were a couple from Tel Aviv in their 50s, while the Belgians shot were an employee at reception and a young volunteer.
A bystander, Alain Sobotik, told AFP he saw the corpses of a young woman and a man just inside the doors of the museum.
A picture shows them lying in pools of blood.
“The young woman had blood on her head. She was still holding a leaflet in her hand, she looked like a tourist,” he said.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders saw the two corpses at the entrance and said the two other victims had been shot further inside the museum.
He said he had been strolling nearby when he saw people fleeing and heard shots and rushed to help.
When he saw “bodies on the ground in pools of blood” he called the 112 emergency number and rounded up eyewitnesses.
While stopping short of calling it an anti-Semitic act, Reynders said “evidently one thinks of that.” The Jewish Museum of Belgium is in the heart of the Sablon district which is home to top antique dealers. The area is a popular weekend haunt for shoppers and tourists.
“A deeply symbolic place was struck,” said Di Rupo. “The government expresses all its support to our country’s Jewish community.”
In 1982 a gunman opened fire at the entrance of the synagogue in Brussels, wounding four people, two seriously.
Saturday’s attack took place two years after the killing of four Jews, including thre children, in the French city of Toulouse.

Sarkozy calls for end of Europe’s visa-free area

May 23, 2014 Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has called for the end of Europe’s visa-free Schengen area in order to protect the country’s ailing social system, The Telegraph reported, citing his interview with Le Point magazine.
Mr Sarkozy also called for powers to be handed back to national governments from Brussels.
As France prepares to vote in EU-wide elections on Sunday, Mr Sarkozy said “Schengen I must be immediately suspended and be replaced by a Schengen II of which member countries can only be a part if they previously agree to the same immigration policy”.
Europe migration policy has failed and the need to replace Schengen I has become obvious, he added.
“Europe is not meant to organise social and migratory dumping, almost systematically at the expense of France,” he warned. 

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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.