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Moldova: Pro-EU Parties Lead Elections

December 3, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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20:47, December 1, 2014

Preliminary results of Moldova’s Nov. 30 national elections show the outcome tipping toward parties in favor of closer ties with the European Union (EU) – if they can put aside their differences to form a coalition.

With 91.5 percent of votes tallied by the Central Election Commission, the three major pro-EU parties held 44.66 percent of the vote: Liberal Democratic Party had 19.41 percent, the Democratic Party had 15.80 percent and the Liberal Party had received 9.45 percent. Past discord between Moldovan pro-EU parties may indicate a difficult bargaining process. The Liberal party left the country’s current pro-Europe coalition government last year.

Armenian FM to attend OSCE ministerial meeting

December 3, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian will take part in the Organization for Security and Cooperation of Europe’s (OSCE) 21st ministerial session in Brussels.
According to a press release by the Foreign Ministry, he is scheduled to have meetings with counterparts from different countries on the sidelines of the event. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

Putin vision matches Turkey’s oil and gas ambition – Financial Times

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Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that Turkey could serve as a “gas hub” in lieu of Moscow’s now abandoned South Stream pipeline chimed with Ankara’s energy ambitions.
With scarce hydrocarbon energy resources of its own, Turkey is keenly aware of the oil and gas deposits that surround it on all sides.
Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the country has declared its aim to bring oil and gas to Europe from the Middle East, the Caucasus and elsewhere – and in so doing bolster its own energy security while pocketing transportation fees.
Turkey has made big strides to realise that ambition.
Plans are proceeding to build a gas pipeline from Azerbaijan across Turkey to southeastern Europe. Turkish officials also hail an agreement between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, formalised this week, which they say could make it much easier for Iraq’s Kurds to transport oil and eventually gas through Turkey to international markets.

Macedonia: Police Skeptical Of Passport Fraud

December 2, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Sports, Video No Comments
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21:33, December 2, 2014

Macedonia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVR) has nixed claims that a new video, which purports to depict the large-scale forgery of passports, reveals an election fraud scheme.

The 45-second clip, published online by Fokus, a Macedonian weekly newspaper, shows what appears to be an apartment with computers and materials allegedly used to counterfeit Macedonian passports.

But MVR said in a press release that biometric security features on current Macedonian passports place them among the most secure in Europe, and that there was as yet no evidence of forgery.

“The footage may be inaccurate or commissioned by a political party,” police spokesperson Ivo Kotevski told Balkan Insight.

EU court blocks gay asylum tests

December 2, 2014 Africa, Diaspora, Europe, Film No Comments
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The EU’s top court has ruled that refugees who claim asylum on the grounds that they are homosexual should not have to undergo tests to prove it.Three men, including a Ugandan and one from a Muslim country, failed in their bids for asylum when a Dutch court said they had not proved their sexuality.EU states including the UK have been criticized for their handling of gay asylum requests.The European Court of Justice (ECJ) says they must respect human dignity.Its rulings apply to all EU member states.|The case is significant across the EU because of a surge in the numbers of sub-Saharan Africans seeking asylum in Europe this year. Most African countries treat homosexuality as a crime.The Czech authorities were criticized by the UN, EU and human rights activists in 2011 for using an erection or “phallometric” test – a practice dating back to communist times – to determine whether certain asylum seekers were gay.In its latest ruling, the Luxembourg-based court said that determining a refugee’s sexuality had to be consistent with EU law and respect their private and family life.In particular, it said that evidence of homosexual acts submitted from tests or on film infringed human dignity, even if it was proposed by the asylum applicant. Allowing such evidence could result in it becoming a requirement, the court said.While authorities could interview an asylum seeker to find out about their sexual orientation, questions could not be asked about their sexual practices.An asylum seeker’s failure to answer questions about their personal circumstances was not sufficient reason to reject their credibility. Nor was an applicant’s failure to declare his homosexuality from the start, the judges said.Treatment of gay, lesbian or bisexual refugees has become a key issue in the UK in recent months, after revelations that one asylum seeker was asked what one lawyer described as “shockingly degrading” questions.A report by the UK independent chief inspector of borders and immigration in October found that more than one in 10 interviews involved questions of an “unsatisfactory nature”.The ECJ ruled last year that gay asylum seekers who had a genuine fear of imprisonment in African countries could claim refugee status, in response to another Dutch case. 

Close Ties With West Important For Armenia, Says U.S. Envoy

November 25, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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John Heffern, the U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, made a case for Armenia’s close relations with the West on Tuesday, saying that they could help the country reduce the fallout from Western economic sanctions against Russia.

Heffern commented on possible consequences of those sanctions in the light of Armenia’s imminent accession to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in an online “twitter chat” with local journalists and other Armenians.

“Sanctions not directed [against] Armenia. To end sanctions, Russia knows what to do,” tweeted the diplomat. He said Washington does realize that the Russian and Armenian economies are “interrelated.”“One more reason for partnership [with the West] is to diversify economy and to create options,” he added.

Armenian Participation In Baku Games Still In Doubt

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Armenia has not yet decided whether to participate in next year’s inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan, the Armenian National Olympic Committee said on Monday, contradicting statements made by senior European sports executives.

Patrick Hickey, the president of the European Olympic Committee (EOC), expressed confidence about the Armenian participation in Europe’s biggest-ever multi-sport event at the weekend following an EOC conference held in Baku. “Armenia confirmed to us they will take part here at the European Games,” he was reported to say after talks with Armenian officials present at the conference.

Falling inflation a worry for Europe but also the world

November 23, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has moved closer to launching sovereign debt purchases and data this week will show just how dangerously low inflation has fallen in the $13 trillion euro zone economy, Reuters reports.
A sickly Europe has held back global economic growth for years, and now it is contributing significantly to powerful forces already dragging down inflation across the globe.
A spectacular drop in crude oil prices over the past month will be the center of discussion when ministers from the world’s top oil exporters meets in Vienna on Friday.
The key question there is whether Saudi Arabia, which signaled last month it was comfortable with lower oil prices, accelerating a plunge in the price of crude to a third since June, will stick to that view.
But rapidly-increasing U.S. oil production, coinciding with shaky demand from China and Europe, is likely to keep a lid on the price no matter what the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decides.
The latest Reuters poll suggests euro zone inflation relapsed to 0.3 percent in November, far from the ECB target of just below 2 percent.
“It is essential to bring back inflation to target and without delay,” Draghi said on Friday.
“Monetary policy can and will do its part to achieve this. But it is also clear that, as monetary policy works on the demand side of the economy, other policies can assist in this process – or at least not counteract it.”
After many years of austerity, Draghi and others have come around to the idea of loosening fiscal policy to invest in infrastructure. But Germany, which could best afford it, is focused on balancing its books for the first time since 1969.

China rate cut spurs markets on to new highs

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The cut in Chinese interest rates and comments from Europe’s central bank chief have lifted global markets, the BBC reports. The People’s Bank of China cut its one year deposit rate to 2.75% from 3.0% to try to revive its economy.Meanwhile Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (ECB) said he would “step up the pressure” to stimulate Europe’s struggling economy.Within half an hour of opening, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose almost 1% to a new record high of 17,866.00.In the UK, mining stocks rose between 3% and 5% on the hope that better growth would help sales of raw materials to China.The six biggest risers on the index were either oil or mining companies.The Australian and New Zealand currencies also strengthened reflecting their dependence on trade with China.The cut in Chinese rates, which took the markets by surprise, was the first since 2012, and comes into effect on Saturday.The one-year lending rate will also be reduced from 6% to 5.6%.On Thursday figures showed China’s factory output contracting for the first time in six months.Economic growth slowed to a five-year low of 7.3% last quarter.To offset the effect of lower rates on savers the bank said it would give banks the flexibility to offer higher deposit rates, up to 1.2 times the benchmark level, rather than 1.1 times. 

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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.