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Armenia’s EEU deal to meet public resistance – opinions

November 3, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe No Comments
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While Armenia’s treaty to accede to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is pending ratification by the National Assembly, opinions that the deal may meet public resistance remain dominating in certain public and political circles.
Alen Simonyan, an activist of the civic group European Choice, says he sees that the issue surprisingly remains on the political agenda, without any future steps having been coordinated and agreed on.
“And the sanctions are not directed only to the steps which will demonstrate that there are opponents to the Eurasian integration idea inside the country … what if the ratification is disputed? It must be prevented in every possible way, and I believe that something will be done both in and outside the National Assembly, and in the streets,” he told Tert.am.
Levon Barseghyan, another member of the group who heads the Gyumri-based journalists’ club Asparez, said he doesn’t expect the opponents to be powerful enough to influence the voting process in parliament. Describing the deal as a kind of treachery against the third Republic of Armenia, Barseghyan said he finds that its ratification will be a blatant violation of country’s Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
“We’ll partially cede Armenia’s sovereignty – the resolution of economic, customs and budgetary issues – to a supranational body. And that’s all. Ceding our right to sovereign decision making means ceding our sovereignty,” he explained.
Commenting on the issue, Azat Arshakyan, a Soviet-era dissident and a former political prisoner, said he believes that 95% of Armenia’s population (those who voted for independence in 1991 or their descendent) is opposed to the idea.
“That mass reacted to that on September 21 [1991], and it bears the responsibility for the decision. And the next generation too, says ‘we have voted; we are Armenians’. So I don’t think the Armenian nation finds that it waged a battle which it lost. The Armenian nation loves freedom, but for tactical considerations, it allows only activists to speak on its behalf. And this is enough; to the extent that there are people voicing [the demands],” he added.

Europe For ‘Stronger’ Relations With Eastern European Countries


The European Union wants its relations with post-Soviet countries to grow stronger despite the current tensions with Russia, a visiting British official said in Yerevan on Monday.

Minister of State at the British Foreign Office David Lidington was on an official visit to Armenia during which he, in particular, held meetings with the country’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and President Serzh Sarkisian.  

Speaking at a joint press conference with Nalbandian, Lidington, replying to a question from RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on whether the current tense relations between the West and Russia would also affect the EU’s attitude towards Russia’s allies, such as Armenia, which is going to join a Russian-led trade bloc, the Eurasian Economic Union, in January.

European growth as elusive as quicksilver

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Data from both sides of the Atlantic will give clues in the coming week on just how bad the euro zone economy is and just how sustainable is its U.S. counterpart, Reuters reports. Europe offers a rate meeting from the European Central Bank and a new slate of economic forecasts; the United States will release its influential monthly jobs data.Purchasing manager indexes for the past month will also show how businesses see things shaping up in the United States and Europe. One for China’s has already come in lower than expected.For many, the ECB meeting on Thursday will be the main money event – despite the fact that it is not likely to be one of action or suspense.As usual, the attention will be on ECB President Mario Draghi’s nuances at the news conference that follows the likely non-move on rates. When it comes to the ECB, the news is often all about the journey rather than the destination.This week’s inflation data let the ECB off the hook on taking any immediate additional action to combat the threat of deflation.At 0.4 percent in October, inflation is worryingly slight, but it is higher than it was a month earlier.ECB policymakers are also in no rush to move on to something new when they have not yet seen how their targeted loans and purchases of asset-backed securities are doing.Many in financial markets would like to see the ECB move to a full quantitative easing (QE) asset-buying program like the one the U.S. Federal Reserve has just closed. But as these words from ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny suggest, it is not likely.”I don’t think we should be pushed by the markets to produce a new program at every meeting we have.”The bank will also be looking at the U.S. Federal Reserve’s ending of QE and relatively hawkish tone for some spillover succour.The euro is down more than 1.5 percent against the dollar since the Fed meeting on Wednesday, and down more than 10 percent since May.A weaker euro not only boosts euro zone exports, it imports inflation, both of which the ECB wants to see.The nuance being sought on Thursday, however, will be whether there is any momentum towards full QE and how German opposition could be overcome.The ECB has been throwing money in various ways at the euro zone economy for a long time but dynamic growth has proved as elusive as quicksilver.This is expected to be underlined by the purchasing manager indexes. The euro zone’s manufacturing is sitting just a tad above stagnation. Data has been very lackluster.”October’s … business and consumer survey suggests that the euro-zone economy got off to a weak start in Q4, after broadly stagnating in Q3,” Capital Economics said in a note.Mid-week, the European Commission will give its latest economic forecasts and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development will issue its on the G20 economies ahead of a meeting of the group. 

French-Armenians launch active campaign ahead of Genocide centennial

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Ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a civic group of French-Armenians has launched a website as part of the pan-national efforts towards raising awareness of the tragic event and demanding recognition and reparation. Speaking to Tert.am, Hrachya Aslanyan, Head of the Diaspora Ministry’s Department of Armenian Communities of Europe, said the campaign, “#2015RTAG. Recognize The Armenian Genocide”, has been initiated by Armenians of Marseilles under the leadership of the community activists Ani Stepanov and Richard Findikyan.“My connection with this initiative is limited only to the extent that I am from Marseilles, and I was asked to offer my assistance to make the movement more popular. I informed the minister of the initiative, and the very first day, she was photographed with the poster [bearing the slogan] ‘#2015RTAG. Recognize The Armenian Genocide’ and later spread it. First Lady Rita Sargsyan and Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan followed suit; they were later joined by Fetin Çetin, an ethnic Armenian lawyer in the Hrant Dink [case], and well-known public figures,” he said.Aslanyan added that the Ministry later called for active efforts towards involving all the Diaspora communities, individuals, officials and foreign legislators in the movement.The group later embarked on creating the seven-language website which has already attracted over 6,000 fans on Facebook since its launch last week.“If we achieve something great, we’ll clearly decide on, and coordinate with different communities, the next steps. We are now planning on a footage featuring scenes of Genocide, each episode of which will be introduced by well-known Armenians from across the globe,” he said, expressing further his hope that the initiative will really gain popularity.Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan says she really feels happy that the initiators were Marseilles-Armenians and local city authorities. “We, naturally, work with our communities every day, and our first approach was that we have to be a direct participant. As different public figures visit the Ministry, we offer them to join the movement,” she said.Hakobyan described the move as a major moral impetus in terms of raising the youth’s awareness of history. “I think recognition is a for politicians of those countries which are still lingering and haven’t recognized the Genocide to date,” she added. 
The minister said she believes that the initiative will have a great impact on the world community, whose active involvement in the campaign will be a great stimulus in moving ahead with the Genocide recognition efforts. “Our slogan is, I Remember and Demand. And remembering, we demand the reinstatement of the lost rights, the community and pan-national rights.”The minister further hailed the Greek parliament’s September 9 bill criminalizing the Armenian Genocide. “I think any step is a success,” she said, adding that she doesn’t any surprise move by Turkey ahead of April 24. “I don’t think Turkey will recognize the Genocide on or ahead of the centennial day, but Turkey too, faces an identity crisis, with the society beginning to recognize its history. And that’s a fact. That’s an outcome of the movement. The fact that hundreds and thousands of people in Turkey have started identifying themselves is already a big achievement.” 

Getting Armenia on the Dental Tourism Map? Three Young Visionaries Argue It’s Possible

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00:03, October 31, 2014

Dental tourism in Armenia?

The idea doesn’t sound too far-fetched in the minds of three young men from Armenia. In fact, they argue that Armenia can make its mark in this field if the venture is approached with some proper planning and financing.

Two of the budding entrepreneurs, 22 year-old Gor Hovakimyan and Artur Gasparyan, got the chance to study overseas with a Luys Foundation scholarship.

Gor studied at the London University College, receiving a Masters in Economics and Business. He’s since returned to Armenia.

It was Artur who came up with the idea while studying at Zurich University. He’s now in Canada.

UK Minister of State for Europe to Pay Official Visit to Armenia

October 31, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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15:01, October 31, 2014

David Lidington, the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Europe, will pay an official visit to Armenia on November 3 for a meeting with RA Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian. A joint press conference will follow.

Lidington will pay his respects at the Tzitzernakaberd Genocide Memorial early that morning.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Paris meeting source of both hopes and pessimism – Karen Bekaryan

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Chairman of the European Integration NGO Karen Bekaryan pointed out positive and negative aspects of the latest Armenian-Azerbaijani-French presidential meeting in Paris, France, at a meeting with reporters on Thursday.The negative aspects of the meeting is that Nagorno-Karabakh was not represented at the meeting. “I have always been supportive of this thesis: the negotiations will not produce any results without Nagorno-Karabakh representatives, and Paris will not attach any importance to that,” Mr Bekaryan said.On the other hand, the negative aspect of the Paris meeting for Azerbaijan concerned its attempts to justify the acts of present sabotage.“President Hollande’s aim is to launch a framework agreement as soon as possible. I consider it a negative aspect as well because it is unclear,” he said.The positive is that poor talks are always better that fire.“It inspires hope that there will not be any further escalation. I said on one occasion that monopolizing the peace process by one of the mediators poses a threat. But in this case we can witness the opposite: the three mediators have, one after another, organized Armenian-Azerbaijani presidential meetings,” Mr Bekaryan said.In any case, the French leader’s initiative was aimed at creating confidence-building mechanisms because the two societies need to be prepared for peace.The Paris meeting inspires hopes for further contacts. On the other hand, there is some pessimism because the process is not showing any progress.“A rather low level of confidence should be noted as well,” Mr Bekaryan said. 

EU to give €34.387m grant to Armenia next year

October 30, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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The Standing Committees on European Integration and on Financial-Credit and Budgetary Affairs held a joint debate on the 2015 draft budget on Thursday.Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Finance Pavel Safaryan said that Armenia expects categorical and direct grants from the European Union (EU).Categorical grants will total €14.387m and direct grants €20m.“We are going to receive a total of €34.387m from the EU as a grant,” the official said.The categorical grants will be spent in three areas.“We are to receive €6.12m for modernizing the Bagratashen, Bavra and Gogavan checkpoints by means of the EU Partnership investment instrument. Under the checkpoint modernization program we are going to receive $2m and, later, €2.8m for renovation of watercourses and development of Armenia’s small communities,” Mr Safaryan said. 

China to invest $8m in construction of Chinese language school in Armenia

October 30, 2014 Armenia, Culture, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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The school with in-depth study of the Chinese language to be constructed in Yerevan will be the largest school in Eastern Europe, Armenia’s Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan told reporters on Thursday.The students will study Chinese culture as well.“The school will be provided with state-of-the-art infrastructures: a library, culture center, as well as a hall of residence, for talented students from Armenia’s regions to receive education,” the minister said.“We encourage foreign investments in education. This Armenian-Chinese project is of political importance because the school will promote Armenian-Chinese humanitarian cooperation. Given the Chinese side’s enthusiasm, $8m investment is expected. The Chinese language is gaining worldwide popularity,” Mr Ashotyan said.The construction is to be launched next year, with education process to start in two years. 

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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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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.