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Cheap Housing Built For Syrian Armenians

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A Yerevan-based charity founded by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) has officially launched the construction of an apartment block for about 80 ethnic Armenian families from Syria that have taken refuge in Armenia.

The Help Your Brother fund broke ground for the 14-story building in Yerevan’s western Davitashen district on Wednesday in the presence of Mayor Taron Markarian and senior Dashnaktsutyun members. Its executive director, Tatul Harutiunian, said the construction will take about two years and cost an estimated 2 billion drams ($4.3 million).

The project will be partly financed from private donations made to the charity. Harutiunian declined to name any of the “numerous” donors.

The rest of the funding will come from the future residents themselves. They will be able to buy apartments at below-market prices.

Armenia, Georgia Sign Deal On New Border Bridge

December 24, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Georgia, Top News No Comments
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The governments of Armenia and Georgia formalized on Wednesday their plans to build a new bridge on the border between the two countries in an effort to facilitate bilateral trade and travel.

Georgian Deputy Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Armenian Transport Minister Gagik Beglarian signed a corresponding agreement in Yerevan after a session of a Georgian-Armenian economic task force. The agreement was finalized during Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian’s visit to Tbilisi earlier this month.

The new “Friendship Bridge” is to be built over the Debed river flowing through the main Georgian-Armenian border crossing. It currently has a single narrow bridge constructed in Soviet times.

Government Touts 2014 Growth In Agriculture

December 24, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Culture, Europe, Top News No Comments
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Output in Armenia’s agriculture sector has grown by 6.5 percent this year despite a severe spring blizzard that destroyed major fruit crops such as apricots, Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetian said on Wednesday.

He said agricultural production in the country totaled about 930 billion drams ($2 billion) in January-November, generating approximately one-fifth of Gross Domestic Product. Growth in other major sectors of the Armenian economy, notably manufacturing, was more modest, according to official statistics.

Data from the Armenian Agriculture Ministry cited by Karapetian at a news conference shows that much of this gain results from increases in the total area of agricultural land cultivated by farmers and their modest livestock holdings. In particular, this translated into an 11 percent rise in meat production.

Armenia Sees New Major Accord With EU

December 23, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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Armenia and the European Union are negotiating on a new far-reaching accord that would contain many political and economic provisions of their ill-fated draft Association Agreement, a senior Armenian official said on Tuesday.

“If all goes well, Armenia will sign a new treaty with the EU in the near future,” First Deputy Economy Minister Garegin Melkonian told the Armenpress news agency in an interview. He said it would serve as a substitute for the Association Agreement and not contradict Yerevan’s membership obligations to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

“After clarifying areas of cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union it has become possible for Armenia to also regulate ties with the EU, which should lead to a new legal format of Armenia-EU cooperation,” explained Melkonian.

Another Activist Attacked In Yerevan

December 22, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Karabakh, Top News No Comments
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Yet another anti-government activist was beaten up in Yerevan late on Saturday one day after publicly defying violent reprisals which a senior Armenian police official has threatened against individuals offending President Serzh Sarkisian.

Vaghinak Shushanian was attacked and injured by unknown men in the city center. He posted photographs of his bloodied face on the Internet before receiving medical aid in hospital later in the evening.

“Two young men approached me and said, ‘Was it you, bastard, who swore at the president yesterday? So take it,’” Shushanian said on Monday. “They toppled me before I could respond and kicked and punched me for about two minutes.”

Yerevan ‘Still Committed’ To Closer Ties With West

December 19, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News 1 Comment
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Armenia’s leadership has assured Western powers that it will continue deepening relations with them even after joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), the outgoing U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, John Heffern, said on Friday.

Heffern said that the United States trusts in these assurances because it believes that closer ties with the West are “not incompatible” with Yerevan’s membership in the Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states. The U.S. and the European Union are therefore trying to help Armenia develop a “strategic” capacity to closely cooperate with both the West and Russia, he said.

“We think that Armenia can benefit from both,” Heffern told a farewell news conference in the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan.

Ukrainian Investors Buy Into Armenian Airline

December 19, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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A Ukrainian investment fund announced the purchase of a 49 percent stake in Armenia’s leading airline on Friday, pledging to help restart soon its commercial flights that were suspended two months ago.

Vladimir Bobylev, the chief executive of the East Prospect Fund, pledged to invest at least $30 million in the troubled Air Armenia carrier. Armenian news agencies quoted him as saying that it plans to replace and expand the company’s small fleet of aircraft in the coming months.

It was not clear how much the fund, registered in the British Virgin Islands but headquartered in Kiev, paid for the minority share. It valued Air Armenia at $50 million on its website.

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ERBD To Loan Armenia €3.5 Million for Hrazdan Solid Waste Landfill

December 19, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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15:29, December 19, 2014

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) today signed a €3.5 million loan deal with Armenia to finance the construction of the country’s first European Union (EU) compliant solid waste landfill.

The new landfill, to be located in the city of Hrazdan in Kotayk Province and managed by eight participating municipalities – Hrazdan, Abovyan, Charentsavan, Tsakhkadzor, Byureghavan, Yeghvard, Nor Hatchn and Sevan – will operate as a commercially sustainable unit with modern solid waste management systems, covering the collection and disposal of municipal solid waste.

This will provide major environmental and social benefits for some 215,000 people in the area covered by the facility, according to the ERBD.

EU Concerned Over Armenian Attacks

December 16, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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The European Union expressed concern on Tuesday at a series of violent attacks on Armenian opposition politicians and activists, saying that failure to punish their perpetrators could deepen “a sense of impunity” in Armenia.

In a statement, the EU Delegation in Yerevan urged the Armenian authorities to identify and prosecute the attackers “without delay.”

“The EU Delegation reiterates its concern at the absence of results regarding the investigations into similar incidents of 2013,” it said. “The perception of ineffective law enforcement is raising concerns among Armenian civil society, Human Rights Defenders and international observers and risks nurturing a sense of impunity in Armenia.”

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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.