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"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.”

Minsk Group has realized Azerbaijan is real threat – Richard Giragosian

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In an interview with Tert.am, Richard Giragosian, Founding Director of the Regional Studies Center (RSC), commented on the mediators’ statements on the need for an Armenian-Azerbaijani presidential meeting in Paris.With respect to the new deadline for Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EaEU), January 1, 2015, and whether it is a realistic deadline, Mr Giragosian said:“The latest delay in Armenia’s accession to the EaEU show the process is being derailed. The reason is the opposition by Kazakhstan and Belarus. And it is beyond Armenia’s jurisdiction irrespective of what Armenia’s premier and other officials say.”As regards one of the preconditions for Armenia’s accession to the EaEU, namely, a customs station between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, Mr Giragosian said:“This is not actually a precondition, and I do not think Armenia will ever join the EaEU. The point is that Kazakhstan and Belarus are speaking out against the 800 product items Armenia is producing. However, Russia and the Customs Union could theoretically demand a customs station between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. And if such a demand is made Armenia will reject it. This is evidence that joining neither the EaEU nor the Customs Union meets Armenia’s interests.”As to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s statement in Argentine that Armenia is concerned over the Russian-Azerbaijani arms deals, which evoked varied responses, including criticism against Russia by Armenian public and political figures, Mr Giragosian said:“I welcome the president’s stance, but I should voice my criticism over two points. First, that statement should have been made in Armenia rather than in Latin America. Secondly, the Armenian president’s statement was rather late, and Serzh Sargsyan realized too late that Russia’s arms supplies to Azerbaijan posed a threat to Armenia. I am more critical of Russia because it does not behave like Armenia’s ally.”As to whether Russia will try to involve Azerbaijan in the EaEU, Mr Giragosian said:“No, it is not a serious problem. During my visit to Baku it became clear that Azerbaijan would never consider this fact. It is as unrealistic as to speak of the possibility of Turkey joining the Customs Union.”According to him, international experts’ discussions of Turkey’s accession to the Customs Union are not serious.As regards the previous discussions on the ‘neither…nor’ option, and the possibility of developments in Armenia’s favor in the center of clashes of geopolitical interests, Mr Giragosian said:“The real threat is that the September 3 decision was a strategic blunder. The graver problem is Armenia’s continuous isolation and its diminishing role as a state. I object to Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Union. I think that Armenia not joining it will not in any way affect its relations with Russia and with the neighboring states. Under the circumstances Armenia still has strong positions as compared with Turkey and Iran, despite some positive developments there.”French Ambassador to Armenia Henri Reynaud and, later, US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick called for an Armenian-Azerbaijani presidential meeting in Paris. Official Yerevan is, however, silent, and some analysts believe President Serzh Sargsyan is unwilling to go because, according to one comment, “the Paris meeting is supposed to sum up the years of the Minsk Group’s work – either the Madrid principles will be signed or the sides will consent to place the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process under the jurisdiction of the UN Security Council.”“The Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents will meet. But I do not think their meeting will take place in Paris. And it is most unlikely to take place before the end of summer. And it is Azerbaijan’s conduct rather than the Madrid principles that is the real problem. The Minsk Group has finally come to realize that it is Azerbaijan rather than Armenia that is the real threat. And the latest developments on the Line of Contact, as well as Azerbaijan’s attacks, have actually been aimed at the Minsk Group. And one more concern involving Nagorno-Karabakh is Russia’s new policy following the Crimea-related developments. The question is whether Russia will continue working with the United States and France within the Minsk Group,” Mr Giragosian said. 

Armenian Foreign Minister Attends Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the EU and Eastern Partnership States

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17:09, July 23, 2014

On July 22 in Brussels, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian took part in the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the EU and Eastern Partnership states, that was also attended by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle.

Delivering a speech at the meeting, Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian mentioned that Armenia desires to develop its cooperation with EU, based on the results and progress achieved over the last years.

Armenia Keen On Further Partnership With EU, FM Says

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Armenia wants to develop its partnership with the European Union based on what was achieved during the recent negotiations and considering the ‘new realities’,  Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in Brussels.  

During Tuesday’s EU and Eastern Partnership Foreign Ministers meeting, which was also attended by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule, Nalbandian said that Armenia wants this partnership with the EU to be based on the results and progress achieved in recent years.

Armenia Deems Azerbaijan’s Membership In Eurasian Union Unlikely

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Armenia thinks that Azerbaijan’s accession to the emerging Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) would be against its interests, but does not consider such an option to be realistic, a senior lawmaker in Yerevan said on Wednesday.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) Artak Zakarian, the head of the Armenian parliament’s committee on foreign affairs, said: “Based on my personal analyses I find that Azerbaijan’s membership in the Union is inexpedient. The EEU is an economic union, while Azerbaijan has declared itself to be a self-sufficient economy. Besides, in the case with Azerbaijan such membership would create bigger problems in the foreign policy sphere.”

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Erdogan ‘not talking’ to Obama

July 23, 2014 Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he has stopped talking to US President Barack Obama on the phone, amid growing strains between Ankara and Washington over Syria and Gaza, israelnationalnews.com reports, citing AFP.
Turkey, a fierce opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and an open supporter of armed rebel fighters, felt betrayed when the United States backed away from military action against Damascus in September.
“In the past, I was calling him (Obama) directly. Because I can’t get the expected results on Syria, our foreign ministers are now talking to each other,” Erdogan said in a live interview on pro-government ATV channel late Monday. “And I have talked to (US Vice President Joe) Biden. He calls me and I call him.”
“I expect justice in this process. I couldn’t imagine something like this from those who are championing justice,” Erdogan added without elaborating, in an apparent jibe at Washington.
The last phone conversation between the two leaders took place on February 20 after which the White House released a statement accusing Erdogan of misrepresenting the content of the conversation.
A staunch advocate of “the Palestinian cause,” Erdogan has recently been at loggerheads with Washington over Israel’s self-defense operation in Gaza, which is now in its fifteenth day.
Erdogan accused the Jewish state of carrying out “state terrorism” and a “genocide” of Palestinians and criticized the United States for defending Israel’s “disproportionate” tactics.
The US State Department branded his comments on Israel “offensive and wrong” but the prime minister hit back by saying the United States needed to engage in “self-criticism.”
The US reiterated its stance on Erdogan’s comments on Monday, noting they undermine Turkey’s political clout.
“Well, we certainly believe that comments like these undercut Turkey’s ability to effectively influence the situation,” said deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf, who called Erdogan’s “offensive and awful”.
“We will continue working with Turkey on a number of issues, but comments like these really have no place in this discussion,” she added.
Erdogan is standing in August 10 presidential elections that he is expected to win. 

Turkey: Senior Police Arrested; Accused Of Illegal Wiretapping And Spying On Government

July 22, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Turkey No Comments
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18:02, July 22, 2014

Turkish police arrested 67 senior police officers Tuesday for illegal wire-tapping and spying on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his cabinet in a wide-scale government sweep against supporters of his political rival, reports Reuters.

The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office said that the nearly 200 raids in the early morning were carried out in Istanbul and 22 provinces in Turkey, says Channel News Asia. According to prosecutors, arrest warrants were issued for 115 police officers.

The government claims that thousands of people were illegally wiretapped, including Erdogan, cabinet members, and the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, Hakan Fidan.

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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

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.

Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments

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2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.