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Armenian Troops In Fresh U.S.-Led Drills

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Underscoring increased U.S.-Armenian military cooperation, an Armenian army platoon has joined thousands of soldiers from NATO member states, including Turkey, in conducting fresh U.S.-led exercises in Europe.

The 36 soldiers of a special Armenian peacekeeping brigade flew to Germany for that purpose late last week following a send-off ceremony attended by Richard Mills, the U.S. ambassador to Armenia. Mills shook the soldiers’ hands as they boarded a U.S. military transport plane at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport.

The Saber Junction 15 exercises organized by the U.S. Army in Europe have brought together more than 5,000 soldiers from 15 NATO members as well as Sweden, Armenia, Moldova, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. They will take place in Germany, Lithuania and Romania until April 30.

We have a big Yeraz!

April 6, 2015 Armenia, Europe, Film No Comments
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18:10, April 6, 2015

Story: Natalia Mackojć
Photos: Natalia Mackojć & Małgorzata Witczak

Me and my companions, the European Voluntary Service volunteers from Youth Events Holding Center are capable of sticking our nose in many places in Yerevan and around.

Pretty enigmatically I can give you a hint that recently we are beginning to train ourselves in the art of documentary work. This week’s lesson was a practical one.

Ani Hovannissian and Narek Aleksanyan – journalists from Hetq.am took us under their wings this time. Armed with a camera, we traveled to the village of Ushi, north of Yerevan. There, in the main intersection we hop into the “Happy Bus”- dreamy Yeraz owned by one of our hosts – Dyuma Poghosyan. Smiling, he takes us to his house, surrounded by peach trees. 

What Could Democracy Be?

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23:26, April 4, 2015

By Markar Melkonian 

Part I:  There Is No Such Thing as Democracy Plain and Simple 

Some older readers may recall a statement by one of the self-described “Velvet Revolutionaries” in Eastern Europe a quarter of a century ago, to the effect that there is no such thing as proletarian democracy or bourgeois democracy; rather, he said, there is just DEMOCRACY, plain and simple.  Unfortunately, my internet searches have not succeeded in locating the exact quote, but it went like that. 

Back then one heard many such statements.  By 1990, Yerevantsi’s were fed up with high-handed bosses who called themselves communists and claimed to rule in the name of some higher form of democracy.  They were fed up with one-party rule, and they wanted responsive, representative leaders.  

EU Official Expects ‘Fast Progress’ Towards New Deal With Armenia

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Negotiations on a new treaty between the European Union and Armenia will likely progress rapidly after they are formally authorized by the EU member states later this year, according to a senior European diplomat.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), Traian Hristea, head of the EU Delegation in Yerevan, confirmed that the bloc’s executive body, the European Commission, hopes to receive a “mandate” for the talks at next month’s EU summit in Latvia’s capital Riga.

The talks will center on a deal that will serve as a less ambitious alternative to a planned Association Agreement which was cancelled by the EU after Armenia’s abrupt decision in 2013 to join a Russian-led union of ex-Soviet states. Armenian and EU officials completed last month a “scoping exercise” aimed at identifying concrete areas of closer ties to be covered by the deal. The European Commission is now due to present its results to the 28 member states.

Armenia Hails Tentative Deal On Iran’s Nuclear Program

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Armenia swiftly welcomed late on Thursday a framework agreement to curb neighboring Iran’s controversial nuclear program which was reached by the Islamic Republic and world powers during marathon negotiations in Switzerland.

“That will contribute to the strengthening of stability and cooperation in the region,” Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a statement. “This serious progress in the process of solving the Iranian nuclear issue shows that even the most complex problems can be settled through negotiations.”

The tentative agreement cleared the way for a comprehensive deal which Iran, the United States, the European Union, Russia and China aim to conclude by June 30. Such a deal would lead to a gradual lifting of crippling international sanctions imposed on Tehran because of what the West sees as Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

The Allies at Gallipoli: Defeat in 1915, Disgrace in 2015

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12:43, April 2, 2015

By David Boyajian

April 25 will mark 100 years since the Allies – the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and France – made their ill-fated landing on Turkey’s Gallipoli peninsula during WW1. Having barely gotten off the beaches after months of fighting, the Allies withdrew in defeat leaving over 44,000 dead and 97,000 wounded.

As in recent years, thousands will flock from the Allied countries and elsewhere to Gallipoli for the Turkish-led April 24-25 commemorations. Numerous world dignitaries, including Australia’s and New Zealand’s prime ministers and Prince Charles, will also attend.

More European Court Rulings Against Rights Abuses In Armenia

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In fresh rulings against Armenia, the European Court of Human Rights has fined the authorities in Yerevan a total of 71,000 euros ($77,000) for the torture and other “inhuman treatment” of four Armenian citizens held in custody.

The Strasbourg court on Tuesday also declared illegal a May 2008 government ban on a demonstration against police brutality which an Armenian human rights group had planned to hold in Yerevan.

The group, the Armenian Helsinki Committee, sought no material compensation in its lawsuit filed to Strasbourg later in 2008.

European Sambo Federation Prez Reprimands Azerbaijani Athlete for Unsportsmanlike Conduct

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14:26, April 1, 2015

Sergey Eliseev, President of the Russian and European Sambo Federation, has publicly reprimanded Azerbaijani athlete Bakhtiyar Abbasov for ‘unethical behavior’ when he squatted during the playing of the Armenian national anthem at the Moscow World Cup Sambo competition held last weekend.

In his weight class Abbasov came in third to Armenia’s Ashot Danielyan.

When Danielyan and the runners up took the podium, Abbasov squatted during the playing of Armenia’s national anthem and thus provoked the ire of many, including Eliseev.

While Azerbaijan’s Deputy Ambassador to Russia, who attended the event, verbally apologized to Armenian Sambo Federation President Levon Hayrapetyan, the Armenian delegation filed an official complaint to the competition’s organizing committee.

Ukraine: Bad Meat, Big Money

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10:41, April 1, 2015

By Dmytro Gnap and Valentyna Samar  

Businesses in Ukraine have been buying meat from companies abroad that have been guilty of selling unsafe meat to Eastern Europe.

That includes meat from a plant in Bad Bentheim, Germany, where ARD German television found formers workers who say were ordered to mix spoiled ground meat, essentially waste product from other plants, with fresh meat. Meat from this company was sold into Eastern Europe including Ukraine by the plant’s owner, Trinity Gmbh, a company in Lower Saxony which boasts on its website that it is the “masters in meat processing.”

When workers complained about what was going on, they say they were fired and then threatened.

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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.