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Sarkisian Repeats Concerns Over Russian Arms Sales To Azerbaijan

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President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday voiced fresh concerns about large-scale deliveries of Russian weapons to Azerbaijan, saying that they could damage the traditionally close Russian-Armenian relations.

“The fact that Russia sells weapons to Azerbaijan for various reasons worries us,” Sarkisian told an international media forum held in Yerevan.

“The problem here is not the quality of the sold weapons,” he said during a question-and-answer session that followed his speech at the gathering. “The problem is that the young Armenian man deployed on our border [with Azerbaijan] or the [Nagorno-Karabakh] Line of Contact realizes that they are trying to kill him with Russian weapons. This is the gravest thing.”

Two Prominent Istanbul-Armenians: Two Widely Divergent Views of 1915

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11:45, March 18, 2015

Hetq talks to Bedros Şirinoğlu and Dikran Altun, two influential members of the Armenian community of Istanbul regarding their perceptions of the events of 1915.

Bedros Şirinoğlu serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Holy Savior (Surp Prgich) Armenian Hospital in Istanbul. His family roots are in Bardizag (now Bahecik) near Izmit. His business interests are in construction, tourism and woodworking. He is known to have close relations with ruling Turkish government officials.

Erzurum born businessmanDikran Altunhas supported building bridges between the Armenian community in Turkey and Armenia since the latter gained independence from the Soviet Union. He’s probably best known as the person who launched a charter air flight between Yerevan and Istanbul that operates twice a week despite the closed border between the two nations.

EU: New Europol Team to Combat Human Smuggling Gangs in Mediterranean

March 18, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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20:44, March 18, 2015

Europol, the European Union’s Netherlands-based police agency,launcheda new initiative to tackle human trafficking gangs operating across the Mediterraneanon Tuesday.

According to Europol estimates, smuggling gangs sent 220,000 migrants on dangerous routes over the Mediterranean to states in the EU in 2014 alone, in a growing trend that has put migration pressure on European countries such as Greece and Italy.

The new intelligence-led operation, named JOT Mare, is to share information and cooperate with the international police organization Interpol, EU border agency Frontex, and the police forces of EU member states to track and break up smuggling networks.

EU, Armenia To Open Talks On New Deal

March 18, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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The European Union and Armenia are poised to start official negotiations on a new agreement to deepen their relations, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said on Wednesday after talks with a senior EU official visiting Yerevan.

The EU’s European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn met with Nalbandian and President Serzh Sarkisian to discuss the future of those ties in the light of Armenia’s recent accession to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

“We noted with satisfaction the consultations that have been held between the EU and Armenia with the aim of identifying a future legal basis [of their relations] through negotiations,” Nalbandian told a joint news conference with Hahn.

Turkey: Trafficking Boats Intercepted after UN Warns of Crisis

March 18, 2015 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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21:00, March 17, 2015

Two incidents involving migrant boats near the Turkish coast have followed UN warnings last week that Syrian refugees are being driven into the arms of human traffickers in a growing humanitarian crisis.

At least five migrants died as a boat capsized off the coast of south-west Turkey early this morning, according to Turkish media.

In the second of two serious episodes in the space of a week, the vessel sank in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Muğla province with 15 migrants from Syria and Iraq on board. Its intended destination was the Greek island of Kos.

Local fishermen spotted it sinking, and the Turkish coastguard rescued eight people. A search is underway for other survivors.

Another European Resolution Backs Armenian Genocide Recognition

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A parliamentary body representing the European Union’s member and partner states on Tuesday called for greater international recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide and urged Turkey to “come to terms with its past.”

In a resolution adopted during a session in Yerevan, the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly said “the absence of unequivocal and timely condemnation of the Armenian Genocide largely contributed to the failure to prevent future crimes against humanity.”

Therefore, it said, “prevention of genocides and crimes against humanity should be amongst the priorities of the international community.”The world should also strive for “the restoration of the rights of people subjected to genocide,” added the assembly bringing together members of the European Parliament and legislatures of ex-Soviet states involved in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program.

Yerevan Keen To ‘Combine’ Eurasian, European Integrations

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Armenia remains committed to forging closer links with the European Union despite joining a Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states earlier this year, President Serzh Sarkisian reiterated on Tuesday.

Sarkisian spoke of a continuing “dynamic development” of EU-Armenia relations as he addressed a session in Yerevan of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly of lawmakers from the EU member states and ex-Soviet republics involved in the Eastern Partnership program.

“We act on the premise that it is possible to combine Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), along with all obligations stemming from that, with a deep and extensive [common] agenda with the European Union,” he said. “Furthermore, we will try to find points of convergence and foster cooperation and dialogue through forging close ties with various integration processes.”

Bosnia’s Radoncic Accused at Kelmendi Drug Trial in Kosovo

March 17, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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12:04, March 17, 2015

By Valerie Hopkins in Pristina

Bosnian politician and media mogul Fahrudin Radoncic allegedly claimed to have the final word on any assassinations or other illicit activity conducted by alleged drug dealer Naser Kelmendi, a court heard.

Witness Sejla Turkovic testified at the court in Pristina on Monday that Radoncic told her that he had the right of approval over Kelmendi’s actions.

Radoncic features prominently in the 49-page indictment against Kelmendi, who is charged with being the head of a major trafficking ring ferrying drugs from Afghanistan to western Europe, with the Bosnian capital Sarajevo as the hub.

Radoncic heads the political party Union for a Better Future, and served as Bosnia’s Minister of Security from 2012 to 2014.

EU, Armenia Mull New Accord

March 16, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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The European Union and Armenia are currently discussing a new deal that would serve as an alternative to their cancelled Association Agreement, a senior European parliamentarian said on Monday.

“The new agreement that is now being discussed is not an Association Agreement,” said Heidi Hautala, the co-president of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly comprising lawmakers from EU member states and ex-Soviet republics involved in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program.

“It’s a special agreement which, as far as I know, does not even have a name yet. We have to understand what Armenia needs,” Hautala told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) during a Euronest session in Yerevan.

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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.

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.