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Armenia Ranks 78th in 2014 World Press Freedom Index

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17:35, September 30, 2014

Armenia ranks 78thin the 2014 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders that covers 180 countries.

The country dropped four points from last year.

In terms of Eastern Europe and Central Asia the Index writes:

The region’s four best-placed countries in this year’s index are the same as last year. Although their positions in the index are fairly dispersed, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan all enjoy a significant degree of pluralism and relatively little state censorship. But the considerable social polarization is reflected in the media and the climate for journalists, who are often harassed by pressure groups. Given that the political orientation of individual media usually coincides with that of their owners, it would seem that respect for the editorial independence of media employees is still limited.

Record 3,072 migrants killed crossing Mediterranean in 2014

September 30, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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More than 3,000 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year, more than double the previous peak in 2011, AFP reports, citing the International Organisation for Migration.Europe is by far the most dangerous destination for “irregular” migrants, the organisation found in a report, with 3,072, or 75 percent, of the 4,077 registered migrant deaths worldwide since January happening in the Mediterranean.In the 216-page report titled “Fatal Journeys: migrant fatalities across land and sea”, IOM said more than 40,000 people had perished since 2000 while migrating – 22,000 of them while trying to reach Europe.”It’s time to do more than count the number of victims,” IOM chief William Lacy Swing said in a statement.”It’s time to engage the world to stop this violence against desperate migrants,” added Swing, whose agency is not part of the United Nations but works closely with the world body.The IOM report comes just weeks after one of the deadliest wrecks on record, when a ship carrying some 500 migrants, including Syrians, Palestinians and Egyptians and an estimated 100 children, sank. 

Khachkar commemorating Armenian Genocide victims set up in Romanian Pitești

September 29, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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A khachkar (cross-stone) commemorating Armenian Genocide victims has been set up in Pitești, Romania, the Armenpress news agency reports, referring to pastor of Piteşti Ter Hetum Tarverdyan’s Facebook page.
The population of Armenian ethnicity in Romania is 7, 5-10 thousand. Armenians are mainly based in the cities of Bucharest, Konstanta and Piteşti. Currently the number of the Armenians in Romania is inclined to reduction, because most of the Armenian young people move to the countries of West Europe.

Source: TertOriginial Article

Host Turkey edges France in thriller at Women’s Basketball World Cup

September 28, 2014 Diaspora, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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Turkey started the 2014 FIBA World Championships for Women by defeating France 50-48 in a thrilling Group B game on Sept. 28 at Ankara Arena in front of a cheerful crowd of supporters, the Hurriyet Daily News reports. A less than a minute to go in the game, point guard Işıl Alben scored the winning 3-pointer to put Turkey up 50 – 48 at the end of a hard-fought last quarter. France could not use their chances in the remaining seconds of the game, giving Turkey their first victory.Turkey had started the game strong at defense but hesitant in offense. Scoring woes continued in the second quarter, during which the nicknamed “fairies” only managed to score 3 points as France increase the lead to 10 points after the first half, 27-17.But, boosted by its supporters, the Turkish team succeeded at the fairy tale comeback built with contributions from Alben and Lara Sanders. The American naturalized Turkish led the team with 13 points and 7 rebounds, while Alben added 12 points.For France, one of the favorites of the tournament, Sandrine Gruda was once again in the spotlight with a “double-double” of 11 points and 13 rebounds.Elsewhere, tournament favorites U.S. cruised past Chine 87-56 in Group D while European Champions Spains dominated Japan 74-50.

Serbia Gay Pride march returns after four years

September 28, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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Serbia’s first Gay Pride march for four years is set to begin in the capital Belgrade.The event has been cancelled on safety grounds every year since marchers were attacked in 2010.
Several thousand police are expected to be deployed across the capital during the parade.
However Serbia is negotiating to join the European Union, and a BBC correspondent says it is keen to show increasing tolerance in the country.
Keeping Brussels happy is undoubtedly the motivation for allowing the Gay Pride march to go ahead, the BBC’s Guy De Launey reports from Belgrade.
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said he would not attend the event due to prior engagements – but would not go even if he were free.
Our correspondent says that reflects widespread feelings in Serbia.
The patriarch of the influential Orthodox Church has condemned the event.
Two-thirds of respondents to a survey four years ago said they viewed homosexuality as a disease.
But the influence of the far right has declined in recent years, and several government ministers have spoken in favor of the march.
The minister for European integration Jadranka Joksimovic has said she would join the march.
Earlier in September a German LGBT rights speaker was treated in hospital after being beaten in Belgrade.
In response to the attack, Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said: “We will not allow this kind of thing to remain unpunished.”
The march in 2010 was the only gay pride parade to go ahead in the Serbian capital since 2001.

ECHR Approves Armenia as 3rd Party Litigant in “Perincek v. Switzerland” Genocide Denial Case

September 27, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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12:59, September 26, 2014

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) today approved the inclusion of Armenia as a third party litigant in the “Perincek v. Switzerland, App. # 27510/08” case scheduled to be examined on January 28, 2015.

The approval was made by Armenia’s Prosecutor General Gevorg Kostanyan, who also represents Armenia at the ECHR. Kostanyan had petitioned the court on July 20, requesting that Armenia act as a third party in the case.

The case involves Doğu Perinek, a Turkish national, who was found guilty in 2007 by local and Swiss courts of racial discrimination given his public pronouncements in 2005 of denying that the Ottoman Empire had perpetrated the crime of genocide against the Armenian people in 1915 and the following years. He described the idea of an Armenian genocide as an “international lie”.

IS crisis: ‘More than 3,000′ Europeans join IS

September 26, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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The number of Europeans joining Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq has risen to more than 3,000, the EU’s anti-terrorism chief has told the BBC.Gilles de Kerchove also warned that Western air strikes would increase the risk of retaliatory attacks in Europe.US-led forces have launched nearly 200 air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq since August and on Monday began targeting IS in Syria.The UK parliament is due to vote on possible air strikes in Iraq on Friday.IS has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months.Mr de Kerchove said the number of 3,000 included all those who have been to the region, including those who have returned and those who have been killed there.Earlier this year, experts put the figure at about 2,000.Mr de Kerchove said that Islamic State’s declaration of a Caliphate in June may have played a role in drawing more support from Europe.”If you believe in this, probably you want to be part of it as early as possible,” he said.He warned that air strikes by the US and its Western allies had increased the risk of a violent response from militant Islamists against European targets.”I think we have to acknowledge that it will,” he said. 
Read more on the BBC website.

Armenia not far from raising issue of withdrawing its signature from Armenian-Turkish protocols

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Chairman of the European Integration NGO Karen Bekaryan commented on Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s speech at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.He stressed that the UN General Assembly is the best venue for presenting you own nation’s positions to the world.With respect to the part of the Armenian leader’s speech that deals with Turkey and the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, Mr Bekaryan noted that it showed Armenia has no intention to wait forever in what concerns the Armenian-Turkish protocols, especially in the context of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.“Discussions on the protocols in Armenia were clearly signaled. The soft-line option was used – the one of withdrawing the protocols from the Armenian Parliament’s agenda. However, a harder-line options could have been used – the one of withdrawing Armenia’s signature. But we should realize the logic of diplomatic ethics. The issue of withdrawing the protocols from the Parliament has been raised. I am sure that if, within a reasonable timeframe, Turkey does not show any progress except for its hypocritical statements, we are not far from withdrawing our signature,” Mr Bekaryan said.With respect to the strong-worded statement on Armenian society’s harsh response to Turkey refusing to sign the protocols without preconditions, he said:“It was a clear signal, first of all to Turkey and, secondly, to all the mediators directly or indirectly involved in the Armenian-Turkish process and in the signing of the Armenian-Turkish protocols – the United States, European Union, Council of Europe, France, Russia and so on.“Turkey not ratifying the protocols or showing such a cynical attitude to the process is a slap in the face of all those behind the process, not Armenia alone. And it was also a call for the international community’s cautiousness – in a broader sense,” he said.The primary point is that Armenia has been living without the protocols, irrespective of its good will to launch the process without any preconditions, given the fact an unacceptable cost is demanded for that, especially by a state that has neither legal nor political or moral right.Bekaryan stressed the importance of the president’s word of gratitude to all the countries which have recognized the Genocide.“They called the international community’s attention to the fact that a failure to condemn the Genocide and eliminate its consequences is not only a moral or even a political issue but also a security concern, and the failure to punish it leads to other crimes of genocide,” he noted.The analyst further addressed the president’s remark regarding the Scottish referendum. “We see that the developments have not just begun; neither they have finished or will finish with Scotland. We see what is going on in our direct neighborhood – I mean the European community from where we hear signals,” he said, pointing out to the developments in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country.“This is only the first part of the big list. And if we understand that all this is actual in Europe, should we be surprised at all that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic cannot think of being a part of Azerbaijan which continues behaving like an aggressor,” he added.
 

United Kingdom: Four Men Jailed For Carbon Credit Cyber-Heist

September 25, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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23:43, September 25, 2014

Four British men have been sentenced to jail for aiding the sophisticated theft of US$ 9.4 million worth of EU carbon credits in an international cyber-attack.

In a single day, Jan. 18, 2011, hackers stole 500,000 carbon credits from CEZ, a state-owned Czech utility company, reports Reuters. Another 200,000 credits were stolen from a separate CEZ account and 475,000 from Blackstone Global Ventures, also a Czech firm. The attack was coordinated with a bomb-threat hoax aimed at the Czech Republic’s emissions trading registry.

The four men had established two companies in Poland to fence the stolen credits, according to the National Crime Agency. Ruman Patel, 32, opened the company Segel Sp. z o.o., while Huntingdon Sp. z o.o. was opened by Hanif Patel, 53; Mohammed Hanif Patel, 52; and Ayyub Ibrahim, 60.

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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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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.