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Those Who Sew Do Not Reap Profit

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15:34, November 4, 2014

By Nino Bakradze

You don’t have to go to Southeast Asia to find sweatshops where workers toil under harsh conditions to make clothing for rich Western consumers.  A reporter for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) posing as a textile worker found such conditions in the Republic of Georgia.

Conditions are ripe for abuse in the country of 4-plus million which has no separate labor ministry, no labor inspectors, and an embarrassingly low minimum wage, yet OCCRP found two Kutaisi textile factories that manage to break what labor laws do exist.

Meanwhile, Georgian officials point to the weak protection laws as evidence of their “business friendly environment.”

Armenia and Iraqi Kurdistan: Why Doesn’t Yerevan Have Diplomatic Representation in Erbil?

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10:54, November 4, 2014

The de-jure autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq lies a few hundred kilometers from Yerevan. Given its pivotal role as a regional player and burgeoning economy, should we be concerned by the apparent lack of bilateral contact between Armenia and the KRG (Kurdish Regional Government.

26 states now maintain some type of diplomatic representation in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Armenia does not.

During a trip to Baghdad in February of this year, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian announced that Armenia was planning to open a consulate general in Erbil. Eight months later, this hasn’t happened.

Minister Lidington: UK Regards Armenia as Important Partner

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13:31, November 3, 2014

David Lidington, the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Europe, met with Armenia Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian and discussed options to further strengthen political, commerce and business ties between the two countries.

The two ministers agree that for such ties to expand Armenia must first take steps to improve and strengthen the efficacy of its legal sector.

Minister Lidington said that the United Kingdom regards Armenia as an important partner in the region and that his visit is aimed at reinvigorating cooperation between London and Yerevan.

Nalbandian described the efforts of Armenia and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs to peacefully resolve the Karabakh conflict and, in turn, Lidington said that Great Britain supported this process.

Europe For ‘Stronger’ Relations With Eastern European Countries


The European Union wants its relations with post-Soviet countries to grow stronger despite the current tensions with Russia, a visiting British official said in Yerevan on Monday.

Minister of State at the British Foreign Office David Lidington was on an official visit to Armenia during which he, in particular, held meetings with the country’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and President Serzh Sarkisian.  

Speaking at a joint press conference with Nalbandian, Lidington, replying to a question from RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on whether the current tense relations between the West and Russia would also affect the EU’s attitude towards Russia’s allies, such as Armenia, which is going to join a Russian-led trade bloc, the Eurasian Economic Union, in January.

French-Armenians launch active campaign ahead of Genocide centennial

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Ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a civic group of French-Armenians has launched a website as part of the pan-national efforts towards raising awareness of the tragic event and demanding recognition and reparation. Speaking to Tert.am, Hrachya Aslanyan, Head of the Diaspora Ministry’s Department of Armenian Communities of Europe, said the campaign, “#2015RTAG. Recognize The Armenian Genocide”, has been initiated by Armenians of Marseilles under the leadership of the community activists Ani Stepanov and Richard Findikyan.“My connection with this initiative is limited only to the extent that I am from Marseilles, and I was asked to offer my assistance to make the movement more popular. I informed the minister of the initiative, and the very first day, she was photographed with the poster [bearing the slogan] ‘#2015RTAG. Recognize The Armenian Genocide’ and later spread it. First Lady Rita Sargsyan and Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan followed suit; they were later joined by Fetin Çetin, an ethnic Armenian lawyer in the Hrant Dink [case], and well-known public figures,” he said.Aslanyan added that the Ministry later called for active efforts towards involving all the Diaspora communities, individuals, officials and foreign legislators in the movement.The group later embarked on creating the seven-language website which has already attracted over 6,000 fans on Facebook since its launch last week.“If we achieve something great, we’ll clearly decide on, and coordinate with different communities, the next steps. We are now planning on a footage featuring scenes of Genocide, each episode of which will be introduced by well-known Armenians from across the globe,” he said, expressing further his hope that the initiative will really gain popularity.Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan says she really feels happy that the initiators were Marseilles-Armenians and local city authorities. “We, naturally, work with our communities every day, and our first approach was that we have to be a direct participant. As different public figures visit the Ministry, we offer them to join the movement,” she said.Hakobyan described the move as a major moral impetus in terms of raising the youth’s awareness of history. “I think recognition is a for politicians of those countries which are still lingering and haven’t recognized the Genocide to date,” she added. 
The minister said she believes that the initiative will have a great impact on the world community, whose active involvement in the campaign will be a great stimulus in moving ahead with the Genocide recognition efforts. “Our slogan is, I Remember and Demand. And remembering, we demand the reinstatement of the lost rights, the community and pan-national rights.”The minister further hailed the Greek parliament’s September 9 bill criminalizing the Armenian Genocide. “I think any step is a success,” she said, adding that she doesn’t any surprise move by Turkey ahead of April 24. “I don’t think Turkey will recognize the Genocide on or ahead of the centennial day, but Turkey too, faces an identity crisis, with the society beginning to recognize its history. And that’s a fact. That’s an outcome of the movement. The fact that hundreds and thousands of people in Turkey have started identifying themselves is already a big achievement.” 

Micro-rockets ‘can destroy chemical weapons’

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A team has developed micro-rockets that can neutralize chemical and biological weapons, the BBC reports.Powered by seawater, the micrometre-sized rockets are capable of degrading agents like anthrax and sarin.The rockets can “swim” in contaminated samples to decompose them, before eventually self-degrading.Published in journal ACS Nano, the team says the technology could also decontaminate environmental waste.”It needs no external stimuli, just expose it to seawater, it then generates a bubble and moves around. In the past, people needed external fuel but here we use seawater as the fuel,” explained Joseph Wang at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), who was involved in developing the rockets.Prof Wang said it could degrade both biological weapons and nerve agents like sarin, commonly used as weapons in the Middle East.”Our rockets can protect against these, faster, cheaper and using less reagents,” he told BBC News.The rocket is made from magnesium coated with titanium dioxide. A small eye-like opening exposes the magnesium which reacts with the seawater causing a “bubble propulsion” effect which powers it forward.This propulsion then enables titanium dioxide to react and break down chemical and biological agents. Titanium dioxide is already known for its amazing ability to break down pollutants. It has previously been used for self-cleaning windows and engineers have even coated cotton with the chemical in an attempt to make clothes clean themselves.The UCSD scientists say that titanium dioxide is also extremely useful for degrading chemical and biological warfare agents. It produces no toxic waste material and does not need chemicals which have toxic by-products.One of the next challenges will be to scale up the project to enable the micro-motors to clear a large area of contaminants.There are broader impacts of the technology too, said Prof Wang. His team are now working on a similar motor which could be used to help treat disease by targeting cancer cells, or it could release drugs inside the body.The project was funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a US government organization.

Pope Francis to visit Turkey as region’s Christians flee Islamic state persecution

October 28, 2014 Business, Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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Pope Francis will travel to Turkey next month, the Vatican said on Tuesday, his first visit to the predominantly Muslim country which has become a refuge for Christians fleeing persecution by Islamic State militants in neighboring Syria and in Iraq, Business Insider reports.During his three-day visit, the pope will meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. He will also meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the Orthodox churches that make up the second-largest Christian church family after Roman Catholicism.”The Holy Father will visit Ankara and Istanbul from Nov. 28 to 30,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

1,863 Turkish journalists fired during AKP rule, opposition report says

October 28, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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Some 1,863 journalists have been fired in the 12 years of Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Veli Ağbaba said, while releasing a new party report on the issue, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The report, titled “Journalists Whose Pens Are Broken,” has been printed as a book, and includes 42 media workers telling the story of their dismissals, Ağbaba told reporters on Oct. 27, adding that 20 of these individuals did not even want to be named, fearing the consequences.
He also stressed that the number of unionized journalists had decreased markedly in recent years, from 21 percent in 2009 to just 4.7 percent in 2014, according to the report penned by the CHP.
The AKP has become the “biggest media boss” of Turkey, Ağbaba said, adding that theCHP would also be sending the report to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The report includes three lists: Individually dismissed journalists, collectively fired journalists, and currently imprisoned journalists.
It also includes the warnings of several international organizations about the grave state of Turkish media freedom.
Ağbaba said the report would be translated and sent on to international organizations.
Prominent CHP deputy zgr zel, meanwhile, described the lack of an “independent, real press union as the most important lesson to be taken from the report.”

Armenia should be more active over Armenian Genocide problem – MP

October 26, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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In an interview with Tert.am, Armenian crossbencher Edmon Marukyan spoke of the approaching centennial of the Armenian Genocide.“The government has its functions, but is should not always raise problems that could cause harm to its international relations.Relevant organizations represent the interests of Armenians in the west and raise the problem of their rights,” the MP saidThe organizations in question would act correctly if their raised their problems within law, in Turkey’s judicial bodies, he added.“I am not naïve to believe that Turkey’s courts will uphold the claims. However, it would be a start. That is, by employing the mechanisms they could take their cases to the European Court of Human Rights. Numerous verdicts against Turkey have been returned in Cyprus-related cases,” Mr Marukyan said.It is important to record seizure of property and murders.“As a state, Armenia could raise the problems at the United Nations, but the way of doing it should be different from that of organizations,” Mr Marukyan said.Certain issues need to be raised jointly, others do not. Since Armenia is negotiating re-opening of border with Turkey, raising such problems could prevent the negotiation from producing results.“Let the border be opened and diplomatic relations established, and organizations defend their rights.” 

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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.