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Turkey’s Erdoğan, Russia’s Putin discuss ISIL threat

October 12, 2014 Armenia, Culture, Turkey No Comments
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed threats posed by jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), while Erdoğan also voiced his concerns over troubles faced by Crimean Tatars, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.Erdoğan initiated a telephone conversation with Putin late on Oct. 11, sources from his office told the state-run Anadolu Agency, noting the main motive of the phone call was extending condolences to the Russian head of state for the recent suicide bombing in Grozny.Contact between Erdoğan and Putin came within days after Moscow warned Ankara that any plan to set up a buffer-zone in Syria, as Turkey has urged, would need to be approved by the United Nations Security Council.“The discussion covered bilateral issues in view of the fifth High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council summit, to be held at the end of the year in Turkey. The two presidents spoke out for the further development of trade and economic ties between Russia and Turkey, including in agriculture and high technologies,” the Kremlin said in a statement. “The discussion of international affairs focused on the threat posed by the ISIL terrorist group,” the Kremlin added.In Ankara, the same sources said Erdoğan underlined that “as a country that has fought against organizations such as the PKK [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] and ISIL, Turkey is against all kinds of terror.”Erdoğan, meanwhile, brought up the plight of Crimean Tatars and urged Putin to be receptive to the elimination of their concerns, the sources told Anadolu.

Yerevan Calling: Joint Opposition Rally Attracts Thousands; and More Random Musings

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12:04, October 10, 2014

Oct. 10 – Regime Change Once Again; Opposition Parties Stage Joint Rally Skimpy on Specifics

Thousand packed Liberty Square in Yerevan this evening to hear representatives of three parliamentary opposition parties (ANC, Heritage and Prosperous Armenia) call for regime change in Armenia.

There were few, if any specifics, on how they planned to achieve this.

The demonstration was the largest in recent memory and the crowd appeared ready to storm the presidential palace if given the order from the dais.

I’ll cut through the rhetoric and make this short.

The original justification for the rally was the 12-point list of demands the opposition had filed with the government calling on it to make immediate reforms on a number of socio-economic and political issues. But the rally went far beyond in its scope.

EU: Balkans Still Plagued By Crime, Corruption And Censorship

October 9, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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20:43, October 9, 2014

Organized crime, corruption, and pressure on media continue to be major barriers to countries hoping to join the European Union (EU).

A set of European Commission reports released on Oct. 8 warn that aspirants’ intentions to fight crime are not enough, and that countries need to “need to build up credible track records of investigations, prosecutions and final convictions in cases of organized crime and corruption, with adequate sentencing and confiscation of assets.”

The reports also note that criminality continues to infiltrate the political, legal and economic systems. Seven countries were analyzed: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

Catholicos Aram I Receives the Newly Appointed Ambassador of Iran to Lebanon

October 9, 2014 Armenia, Middle East No Comments
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13:31, October 9, 2014

Last week, Iran’s newly appointed ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad Fateh Ali, visited Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia at Antelias.

The Catholicos introduced Ambassador Fateh Ali to the catholicosate and explained its regional and international mission.

The two then discussed the presence of the Armenian community in Iran, and the Ambassador praised the contribution of Armenians to Iranian society.

During their discussion on the Middle East, Catholicos Aram I condemned the destruction of the Armenian church in Der Zor and emphasized the urgency for Christians and Muslims to work together. They both condemned extremism and its negative consequences for the people of the region.

Photo courtesy of Antelias Catholicosate

Igniting Entrepreneurship in Unexpected Places: An Interview With Sara Anjargolian of Impact Hub Yerevan

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16:16, October 8, 2014

Originally printed in the Huffington Post on October 7, 2014

About a year ago, I found myself sitting in the least desirable seat on the plane – the middle of the middle on a massive airliner directly in front of the restroom. On my left was a man in a grey undershirt, understated in appearance. Meanwhile his posture was one of dignity and pride. As I took in the scene, other travelers on the airplane walked down the aisle, pausing to stare at the man next to me, continuing on their walk, and then turning around to stare again. After two or three passengers stopped to stare, I couldn’t help but ask, “Who are you?”

Armenian schools get record government allocations in Turkey

October 8, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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Several Armenian schools in Turkey have received 7,843 million Liras as part of a government program program aimed at assisting ethnic minorities’ educational institutions.
The total cost of the program is 9.5 million Liras, Milliyet reports. The amount is thought to be a record figure in the country’s history.
A total of 12 Armenian schools have benefited from the allocations.

Source: TertOriginial Article

FBI arrests teen suspected of planning to join ISIL

October 7, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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Authorities in the US have arrested a 19-year-old man on suspicion of attempting to join the militant group known as ISIL, Euronews reported.
Mohammed Khan was taken into custody at O’Hare airport in Chicago by FBI agents as he attempted to board an aircraft bound for Turkey via Vienna.
News of his arrest has caused concern in the normally peaceful suburb.“Never had any problems with him. Always just super polite and just seemed like a normal family. And I try not to be racist or judgemental at all. You know I try to be that way and not to jump to conclusions but, hey, you know, you never know.”Police say they recovered documents related to the groups activities at his home.Khan is charged with attempting to support a terrorist organisation, which carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

De-escalating the Caucasus: Armenia’s Potential Role in Normalizing Russo-Georgian Relations

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20:16, October 5, 2014

By Pietro A. Shakarian 

After his election as Georgia’s prime minister in October 2012, Bidzina Ivanishvili vowed to repair relations with Russia.  

The Georgian billionaire sought to undo the damage caused by his predecessor, the staunchly pro-Western Mikheil Saakashvili, who recklessly led his country into a disastrous war in 2008. 

While speaking in favor of a balanced relationship between Russia and the West in a January 2013 interview, Ivanishvili stated that, in this respect, “I think Armenia is a good example for Georgians.  We can only be jealous about it. Armenia manages good relations with Russia and also manages to stay on good terms with the United States and other NATO countries.” 

PFA’s New Report Lays out a Roadmap for Armenia’s Relations with the West and a New Vision for the Caucasus

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12:46, October 3, 2014

Policy Forum Armenia (PFA)-a Washington-based international think tank-announces today the publication of its State of the Nation Report on “Armenia and the West: A New Vision for the Caucasus”, an earlier version of which was presented as a background paper during a high-level workshop at the Atlantic Council in Washington on July 2, 2014.

The report is intended for policymakers with interest in strengthening Armenia and its ties with the West. It offers some out-of-the-box thinking that challenges prevailing views about Western involvement in Armenia and the Caucasus. The report essentially sets aside a critical handicapping factor-Armenia’s leadership and governance-and lays out a vision for the country’s role in the region under a leadership that would enjoy widespread support among its people; understand and stay current with global trends; and maintain a reasonable degree of independence from foreign interference. The report states that, if implemented in practical terms, a leadership change of this nature will unleash Armenia’s developmental potential and effectively lead to the proposed foreign policy reorientation.

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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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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.