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U.S. Ambassador Designate to Turkey: Ankara Taking Positive Steps to Expand Dialog with Armenians

July 30, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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17:18, July 30, 2014

Excerpts of testimony of John R. Bass, U.S. Ambassador-Designate to the Republic of Turkey (July 15, 2014, Senate Foreign Relations Committee)

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee,

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Johnson and all the Members of the Committee. I am honored to come before you to be considered for the position of Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, and I am grateful for the confidence President Obama and Secretary Kerry have shown in me. If confirmed, I pledge to work with all of you to protect and advance our interests by promoting security, prosperity, democracy and human rights – both in Turkey and in the many places beyond its borders where we work together.

Armenian Deployment In Lebanon Set For October

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Armenia plans to join a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Lebanon with a small contingent of troops in October, a senior Armenian diplomat said on Monday.

According to the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan, the Armenian ambassador to the UN, Zohrab Mnatsakanian, made the announcement during hearings on worldwide peacekeeping operations that were held at the UN Security Council in New York.

Plans for the deployment of some 60 Armenian soldiers near Lebanon’s borders with Israel and Syria were first announced by Yerevan in June last year. Armenia’s top army general visited Italy shortly afterwards to discuss practical modalities of their participation in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Italy’s Festival delle Nazioni to Honor Armenia’s Musical Heritage

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09:58, July 29, 2014

On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Festival delle Nazioni will pay homage to Armenia with a musical program running from August 27 to September 6 in Citt di Castello, a town of some 40,000 inhabitants in the province of Perugia in Umbria, Italy.

The 47th edition of the Festival will feature Armenian symphonic and chamber music, folk and classic, sacred and profane, choral and curative, medieval hymns and premiere compositions.

“With the choice of Armenia, we go out of the European boundaries ,” says Festival President Giuliano Giubilei, the President, “but in a country which has had in its tormented history and strong relations with our continent.”

Georgia Thanks Armenia For Urgent Energy Supply

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Georgia thanked Armenia on Monday for helping to restore electricity supplies in the country that were disrupted the previous night by reported accidents in the Georgian power distribution network.

Most of Georgia, including the capital Tbilisi, were left without electricity for more than two hours late on Sunday. Georgian officials attributed the outage to disruptions of several high-voltage power transmission lines. The precise cause of the emergency was not immediately clear.

Power supply in the country was restored after the Georgian government reportedly asked neighboring Armenia and Turkey for emergency electricity imports. Yerevan appears to have swiftly reacted to the request.

Centennial of Armenian Genocide out of context of latest geopolitical developments – Garegin Chugaszyan

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In an interview with Tert.am, Preparliament Coordinator Garegin Chugaszyan spoke of the Armenians’ expectations after the centennial of the Armenian Genocide has been marked.According to him, inertia is dominating. That is, the Armenians are going to mark the centennial of the Armenian Genocide without considering epoch-making changes.Mr Chugaszyan, the Preparliament’s resolution entitled “The 100th anniversary without the ruling regime” is known. However, will any measures be implemented, what are your expectations about the 100th anniversary about the Armenian Cause in the present moral and psychological situation?Of course, people can hold expectations, but it is the ruling circles that have the levers at hand. And what we can hear about the preparations for the centennial does not in any way meet our expectations. More was done on the threshold of the 90th anniversary than now.As far as I know, much is not made public to prevent Turks preparing countermeasures and so on. What has disappointed you?I cannot say anything about secret measures. In the 21st century, in the world of Wikileaks and Snowden, keeping diplomatic secrets is a difficult task – if possible at all. That is, they are keeping it secret from their own people. Therefore, there has been a need for publicity. The question is that our domestic moral and psychological situation is much more important than issues related to international recognition. What is our perception of our destiny? Are our people well aware of what they are going? The centennial is a symbol. But it is also an epoch-making landmark. That is, it is important for us to understand what epoch we are entering. The world and we have now reached a phase of cool calculation of forces.The Ukraine developments are the symbol of a new global situation, when international guarantees do not mean anything. In Ukraine’s case, the superpowers gave guarantees of inviolability of borders. So what? It is a matter of mere calculation of whether that state can defend its borders by itself. The same can be said of other states. The international situation is radically different, and it is on the threshold of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, and the epoch has changed. The large-scale changes both in the North and in the South have caused destabilization, which, to an extent, is changing our conceptions of expectations about the centennial, in the context of the Armenian Cause. Have you ever heard anyone speak of it at the state level? There is an impression that nothing has changed and we continue marking the centennial. However, when the context is different, the meaning of the event is different. Now that 100 years have passed since the Armenian Genocide, we are witnesses to the massive violence against and relocation of the 14-million-strong Middle East Christian population, including Armenians. Why does not Armenia raise the issue at the UN, it being the only eastern Christian nation which is an international entity historically representing all the eastern Christians in Jerusalem? Why does not it present what happened to us 100 year ago in this topical context?Mr Chugaszyan, at what level should the answers to your questions be looked for – diplomatic, academic, diasporic?At all the levels. Unfortunately, Armenia is represented at such a low level now, and decision-makers are anti-national figures that such issues are not being raised. That is, the problem of sovereignty is becoming number one problem for us. For us to properly deal with the issue of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, we have to resolve the sovereignty problem first. If we are unaware of what is going on round us and incapable of implementing foreign policy, there is no sense in speaking of expectations about the 100th anniversary.That is, you expect events, without discussions or solutions.I have no expectations because the ruling circles’ representatives have said the 100th anniversary is not anything significant, and no problem will be resolved. So what expectations can we have?But the issue may be raised later, on the 101st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.It is not a problem of consistency. It is a problem of change in our attitude to the Armenian Cause. The present-day world is not the world in which we have marked the Armenian Genocide for the past 50 years. And the 100th anniversary is the best occasion to restore this international context and specify our strategy. But expectations are unnecessary without sovereignty.May be the relevant work is being done through diplomatic channels.I am not speaking of secret diplomatic channels. And even in this sense, we should realize that in the 21st century, in the world of Wikileaks and Snowden, keeping diplomatic secrets is a difficult task – if possible at all.That is, you are speaking of the need for a new concept.I am speaking of a new situation in the world, which requires a new approach, and the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide should be the best occasion. My words do not mean that the 100th anniversary would resolve the problem of the Armenian Genocide. But we need a strategy in a new context.May be, President Serzh Sargsyan’s statement on September 3, 2013, stemmed from this context? May be, it was the first step, the strategy you have mentioned?Are you sure that the Eurasian Economic Union will not one day turn into a union of Turkic states? We have been told it is a solution to our security problem. But the statement on Armenia’s accession to that union was followed by increased tensions on our border.What’s your opinion of our moral and psychological atmosphere in the context of the 100th anniversary?We should now change our moral and psychological atmosphere rather than be discontented with it. But it will change only if the people consider and realize the ways of improving their situation. The problem is creating a platform for all the patriotic forces concerned, which will act as bearer of sovereignty. The only issue in Armenia is that of restoration of sovereignty. Once people rally round it, the situation will radically change. Our attitude to our situation depends on ourselves. 

Erdogan prefers Davutoglu as Turkey’s premier – expert

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Expert in Turkic studies Hakob Chakryan believes that Turkish PM Recep Erdogan will be elected Turkey’s president.
He does not rule out that Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoglu, rather than incumbent President Abdullah Gul, may be appointed Turkish premier.
“Gul has for many years been Turkish president. If he is appointed premier, he will be too strong for Erdogan to dictate his will to him,” Mr Chakryan told Tert.am.
Erdogan stresses that, in contrast to his predecessor, he, if elected Turkey’s president, will interfere in the government’s activities as he is the head of the Executive.
“None of the Turkish presidents has ever taken part in cabinet meetings. However, since Erdogan is willing to be an active president, Davutoglu is a better candidate for premiership for him.”

"Russia Draws Armenia in Latest Russian-Turkish Dalliance," Says JirairSefilian

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14:37, July 25, 2014

Pre-Parliament member, Karabakh War veteran JirairSefilian spoke with Hetq about the ongoing delays in Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union, as well as the arrest of prominent Moscow-based Armenian businessman LevonHayrapetyan. 

Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union was postponed again. Prime Minister HovikAbrahamyan recently announced that Armenia will become a full member of the EEU on January 1. In your opinion, why is Armenia’s membership regularly delayed — do Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan not want Armenia to join the EEU? 

“Add a Brick Campaign!” – Help Hrant Dink Foundation Move to New Premises

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11:50, July 24, 2014

Dear Friend,

As you are aware, the Hrant Dink Foundation was established in 2007 after the painful event on January 19th in order to avoid similar pains and to continue Hrant Dink’s legacy, his language and his dream of a world that is more free and just. Democracy and human rights for everyone regardless of their ethnic, religious or cultural origin or gender is the foundation’s main principle. We are working for a future where a culture of dialogue, peace and empathy prevails.

The expanding fields of activity, the archive, the library and various project teams’ working space requirements of our Foundation compelled us to search for a bigger place. We eventually came to an agreement withAnaratHığutyun Armenian Primary School’sFoundation and signed the contract after finalizing the bureaucratic procedures to hire the building of the school, which had no students since 2004.

Montenegro: Alleged Serbian Drug Lord Arrested

July 23, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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18:12, July 23, 2014

A man who the Serbian prime minister has called “the biggest drug lord” in the country was arrested Monday in Montenegro, but he was released Tuesday after interrogation.

Montenegrin police detained Dragoslav Kosmajac in the town of Kotor, Balkan Insight reports. Police said Tuesday he would have to leave the country immediately. Other media reported he would be extradited to Serbia, according to Balkan Insight.

Kosmajac fled Serbia last month after Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić held a press conference in which he fired the chiefs of five police departments, including Rodoljub Milović, the chief of the criminal police, for interfering in politics and being in contact with “Kosmajac, the biggest drug dealer.”

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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

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

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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.