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Baghdad-Yerevan-Erbil: A Commercial or Political Route?

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19:52, February 26, 2015

Today marked the inaugural flight linking Yerevan with Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Armenia’s General Civil Aviation Department reports that the Iraqi Airways flight, linking Baghdad and Yerevan with a quick stopover in Erbil, will operate every Thursday and Sunday commencing March 5.

As announced, Flight IAW 481 will depart from Baghdad and will land at Yerevan’s Zvartnots International Airport at 1pm. At 2pm, Flight IAW 484 will leave Yerevan for Erbil. At 5pm, Flight IAW 483 will return to Yerevan and will leave for Baghdad at 6pm.

The new route, to be operated by Iraqi Airways, the country’s national carrier established in 1945, will be serviced by planes in the Canadian made Bombadier CRJ900 and American Boeing 737 class. Iraqi Airways now has five CRJ900 and twelve Boeing 737 planes in its fleet.

Sex Ed a Taboo in Armenia: If Taught at All, It’s by Phys Ed Teachers, Some 80 Years Old

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15:45, February 27, 2015

By Karine Aghajanyan 

Sex Ed is the process of educating people about sex, but in Armenia it is not as simple as that.

There is a lack of sex education structure. Both society and government do not think it is an essential part of civilized society. Thus, I wanted to understand where the shame and silence surrounding it comes from.

Traditionally, adolescents in many cultures were not given any information on sexual matters since discussions of these issues have been considered taboo. Given that Armenian culture and society are very conservative, this is a huge taboo surrounded by fear and misconceptions.

Armenia: My Illusion

February 27, 2015 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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13:14, February 27, 2015

By Meltem Naz Kaşo

A week after a three-month stay in Armenia, I am once again at home in my green room in Istanbul, Turkey.

“Men must live and create. Live to the point of tears,” a quote from Albert Camus, is written on my wall. To me, Armenia seems like an illusion now. An illusion I lived and created to the point of tears.

For a Turk, going to Armenia seems a crazy idea. It’s not like going anywhere else with a Turkish passport.

I was selected by the Hrant Dink Foundation to be a research fellow in a Yerevan-based NGO, to contribute to cross-border understanding. Just as Turkey has racists, Armenia has its own.

Armenia Again Slams Turkish ‘Preconditions’ For Normalization

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Armenia has rejected the latest Turkish demand to end “the occupation of Azerbaijan” before the diplomatic protocols signed between the two countries in 2009 can be implemented.

The kind of precondition to official Yerevan was reiterated by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who paid a visit to Baku this week.

At a joint press conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov, Cavusoglu also claimed that “the whole world knows about the precondition to Armenia” and that Yerevan “has failed the test of sincerity”. He said that the recent decision by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian to withdrawal the protocols from the parliament is, therefore, “of no importance”.

Italian Researcher: Armenian and Azerbaijani Migrants in Turkey Both Want to Make Money

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09:42, February 23, 2015

Hetq talks to Italian sociologist Fabio Salomoni, a faculty member at Koç University’s Social Sciences and Humanities, who began to take an interest in Turkey in the 1990s.

Salomoni has also focused on the plight of Armenian and Azerbaijan migrants in Turkey and his latest paper on the issue is entitled “Just Beyond the Border: Azerbaijani and Armenian Migrants in Turkey.”

Referring to the southern Caucasus, Salomoni argues that the only reason the world is interested in the area was the Karabakh War, despite the fact that some one million migrants left Armenia during those years and probably an equal number from Azerbaijan.

What are the differences, if any, between Armenian and Azerbaijan migrants residing in Turkey?

Sleeping with Our Enemy: Russia Sells Weapons to Azerbaijan

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13:08, February 21, 2015

By David Boyajian

Russia has sold some $4 billion worth of modern weapons to Azerbaijan in the past few years, with perhaps more to come.

These include S-300 air defense missiles, Mi-35Mcombat helicopters, T-90 tanks, Kornetanti-tank missiles, MSTA-S 152mm self-propelled artillery, and the highly destructive Smerch Multiple Launch Rocket System.

Since Azerbaijan’s1994 defeat in the Karabagh/Artsakh war, its leaders have declared their intention to seize Artsakh by force. Azeris regularly shoot across, and try to penetrate, Artsakh’s ceasefire line. They have made territorial claims on Armenia and are even shelling villages in Armenia itself.

Ter-Petrosian No Longer Deems Meeting With Sarkisian ‘Necessary’

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Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian does not consider a meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian to be necessary any longer, one of his aides has told media.

Arman Musinian, a spokesperson for the Ter-Petrosian-led Armenian National Congress (HAK) party, said the former president was “fully satisfied” with Sarkisian’s reply to his open letter that concerned some of the aspects of a “pan-Armenian declaration” adopted ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

In a response open letter published on Friday Sarkisian said he was ready to accept Ter-Petrosian’s offer for a meeting around the Declaration, but at the same time he categorically rejected the ex-president’s claims that the document adopted by a commission headed by him and comprising other senior Armenian state officials, the top clerics of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Diaspora leaders contradicts the Constitution of Armenia and international legal documents.

Prison Reform in Armenia: ‘The Butchers Continue to Operate without Punishment’

February 20, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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14:45, February 20, 2015

The Council of Europe has a special committee called the CPT (European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) that it periodically sends to its 47 member states to assess how detained persons are treated.

Places visited include prisons, juvenile detention centres, police stations, holding centres for immigration detainees, psychiatric hospitals, social care homes, etc.

After each visit, the CPT sends a confidential report containing its conclusions and recommendations to the state concerned.

Human rights organizations and defenders, both locally in Armenia and internationally, have been critical of the reports the CPT has been sending to the Armenian government, the first in 2002, describing them as carbon copies of previous reports with minor changes here and there.

Sarkisian Says Ready To Meet With Ter-Petrosian

February 20, 2015 Armenia, Diaspora, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has expressed his readiness to hold a meeting with one of his top critics, Levon Ter-Petrosian, after the former president published a critical article and offered to meet on the subject of a pan-Armenian declaration adopted ahead of the approaching Genocide Centennial.

Ter-Petrosian, who served as Armenia’s president in 1991-1998 and unsuccessfully ran against Sarkisian in the 2008 presidential election becoming an institutionalized opposition to him ever after, first published an article on February 11 voicing criticism regarding some aspects of the declaration that was recently adopted by a high-level commission planning and coordinating upcoming commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

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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.