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National Self-Determination union leader to go on hunger strike in protest at president’s policy

August 20, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Chairman of the National Self-Determination Union is going on a hunger-strike on September 8 to show Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan that he must resign.
In any country a failure politician must resign, Mr Hayrikyan told Tert.am.
“How many victims we have had since ‘secure Armenia’ was declared? Tens of thousands of people have left Armenia. Instead of deepening relations with the European Union, the leader of the party that is a member of the European People’s Party is moving toward the unknown.
“Our strategic partner has sold our neighbor 100 times as much weaponry as it has sold to the EU. Deepening relations with such a partner is evidence of a failed policy as well.
“The most significant for me is his failure over the EU and over the accession to the Eurasian Economic Union through the latter is a failure itself,” Mr Hayrikyan said.

Turks consume 1.127 billion tons of alcohol per year

August 19, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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Turks consumed 1.127 billion liters of alcohol in 2012, according to a recent response by the Health Ministry to a series of parliamentary questions, which also highlighted that consumption fell 10 percent last year, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The amount of absolute alcohol consumed per person annually stands at around 1.55 liters, which is well below the European average of 10 liters.
The Western Marmara region topped a list of alcohol consumers at 20 percent, followed by the Aegean region and Istanbul.
The low-alcoholic drink beer is the most commonly consumed alcoholic drink in terms of volume, taking a 90 percent share in sum, while wine and rakı followed with annual respective volumes of 56.4 million and 44.6 million tons.
Some 23 percent of Turkish men consume alcohol, but only 4 percent of women do so.
Some 49.3 out of 90 liras paid for a liter of rakı goes to taxes, the ministry said in response to a question by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu.
Turks pay 4.43 liras in taxes for a liter of beer, which sells for 8.4 liras.
The tax rate is relatively lower in wine, with just 9.63 of 40 liras going to tax. When it comes to sparkling wine, tax jumps to 45.6 liras for every 75 liras of consumption. More than half of the 80 liras paid for a liter of gin is for taxes. A liter of tequila, an export good, costs 110 liras, 56.63 liras of which is taken by the state as tax.
The Turkish government implements high indirect taxes, especially on alcohol, tobacco and gasoline.

Armenia Pledges More Aid To Iraqi Yazidis

August 18, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Top News No Comments

President Serzh Sarkisian has added his voice to concerns about the plight of Iraq’s Yazidi community targeted by Islamist militants and told the Armenian government to provide them with more humanitarian aid than was initially planned.

Sarkisian discussed the issue with Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian on Monday. According to the presidential press secretary, Arman Saghatelian, Abrahamian’s cabinet will increase “the initially planned volume” of relief later this week.

Responding to appeals from leaders of Armenia’s sizable Yazidi community, the government announced last week that it will send $50,000 worth of food to the displaced Iraqi Yazidis. It was expected to be delivered through a United Nations relief agency.

Saghatelian did not specify the monetary value of the increased aid allocation or whether it will include non-food items.

Italy’s position in harmony with that of European Union – Italian foreign office’s statement on Nagorno-Karabakh

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Below is a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy:
On the occasion of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Rome, July 14, Italy and Azerbaijan agreed to adopt a joint declaration with the intent to further enhance their bilateral political, economic and cultural relations and to explore new horizons of cooperation, including through the involvement of civil society.Part of this all-round cooperation is also the commitment to seek a negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict under the auspices of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (with Italy being its member and supporting its principles). In line with its traditional position and in full harmony with that of the European Union, the Italian side considers it necessary to reiterate, even in the context of the Joint Declaration, that the mutual commitment of Rome and Baku should be focused on a peaceful solution to the conflict, based on the rules and principles of the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, as well as the ongoing negotiation process, conducted under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, France, Russia and the United States. In view of the latest developments, Italy is deeply concerned over the recent incidents in the region and, in close cooperation with the EU partners, is urging Armenia and Azerbaijan to refrain from using force and to seize the opportunity for to find a political solution to the conflict, taking advantage of the meeting between President Aliyev and President Sargsyan in Sochi, on August 10. 

Armenia must have its place and interests in Russia – economist

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The recent expert opinions have cooled the euphoria over Armenia’s chances to benefit from Russia’s sanctions against the West and sin Russia’s market.
In an interview with Tert.am, economist Vardan Bostanjyan said:
“The production output cannot upsurge now, because Russia’s ban on the import of European products does not at all mean ample opportunities for Armenia to flood Russia’s markets with its agricultural produce. And relevant statements might have been more serious. They should have thought of boosting domestic production and exports instead of waiting for something bad to happen (Russia’s sanctions).”
Economist Tatul Manaseryan spoke of farm product raw materials available and the processing industry working with them.
“If any people are enthusiastic about their business interests, I should say that Armenia should have long ago entered Russia’s market, and this is an occasion to highlight this fact and think that, when Russia imposed sanctions on Georgian wines, we failed to take advantage of that or present our products in Russia’s market. The same can be said of mineral waters. That is numerous chances have been missed.
“Armenia can and must have its interests in Russia. We should not compare our products with their European counterparts because our failing to meet European standards is an obstacle to our entering the European market. That is, we have to resolve the competitiveness problem. Finally, we need a government approach in terms of food strategy, not in the context of one-year sanctions,” Mr Manaseryan said.

New Body To Promote Armenian Food Exports To Russia


Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetian formed on Friday a task force charged with boosting exports of Armenian agricultural products and prepared foodstuffs to Russia following a Russian ban on food imports from Europe and the United States.

Karapetian acknowledged earlier this week that the Armenian government is trying to capitalize on the ban imposed by Moscow in retaliation against Western economic sanctions. He told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that he and other senior Agriculture Ministry officials have met Armenian farmers and agribusiness representatives to discuss ways of filling some of the resulting gap in the Russian food market.

A ministry statement said that the “working group” was set up by Karapetian with the aim of “increasing the volume of agricultural and food exports and organizing the export process in a coordinated manner.”

Putin: Russia should build itself up, not isolate itself

August 14, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Russians need to mobilize for the benefit of their country but not for conflict with outside world, President Vladimir Putin said while on the last of his two-day visit to Crimea, the Voice of America reports.
“We must calmly, with dignity and effectively build up our country, not fence it off from the outside world,” Putin said in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March. “We need to consolidate and mobilize but not for war or any kind of confrontation … for hard work in the name of Russia.”
Putin said that an ongoing trade war with the United States and Europe did not mean Moscow “should break ties with partners. But we should also not let them treat us with disdain.”
Putin arrived in Crimea on Wednesday and met with Russian Security Council members.
On Thursday, he addressed members of Crimea’s parliament.

Free Democrats party rep meet with British ambassador

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Chairman of the Free Democrats party Khachatur Kokobelyan, Board member Armen Arakelyan and Spokesperson Anzhela Khachatryan had a meeting with British Ambassador to Armenia Katherine Jane Leach.
The sides discussed the current state of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, situation on the Line of Contact, Armenia’s domestic and foreign policy.
They stressed the importance of a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the OSCE Minsk Group, Armenia’s European integration and development prospects.

Source: TertOriginial Article

Armenia to nominate candidate for post of ECHR judge

August 14, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Strasbourg, France, is to host a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on September 29.
PACE members are to elect judge of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) from Armenia by means of a secret ballot.
Alvina Gyulumyan, Armenian Judge of the ECHR, resigned unexpectedly though her term of office expires next January.
On August 2, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan signed a decree establishing the procedure for the election of candidates for the post of judges of the European Court of Human Rights from the Republic of Armenia.
A reliable source told Tert.am that a number of candidates are being discussed, including Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) parliamentary group member Arpine Hovhannisyan, Armenia’s ex-minister of justice Hrayr Tovmasyan, lawyers Ara Ghazaryan and Vahe Grigoryan.
Chairman of the Chamber of Advocates of Armenia Ara Zohrabyan told Tert.am that the Competition Commission has not yet held a meeting.
“I am for a professional to be nominated, and I can say that we have such lawyers,” Mr Zohrabyan said.

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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.