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Ruben Melkonyan: No Need for Sargsyan to Attend Inauguration of New Turkish President

August 26, 2014 Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey No Comments
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13:38, August 26, 2014

When asked by this reporter if the upcoming visit by Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan to Turkey to participate in the August 28 swearing in ceremony of newly elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would result in tangible developments in Armenian-Turkish relations, Ruben Melkonyan, Deputy Dean of Yerevan State University’s Faculty of Oriental Studies, responded that the visit would allow Nalbandyan to reiterate Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s invitation to the Turkish president to attend ceremonies in Yerevan next year marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Melkonyan said he expected Erdoğan to decline the invitation in a statement couched in diplomatic niceties.

What lies behind Europe’s murky oil deals with Azerbaijan?

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Republished from New Internationalist (blog)Author: Molly Scott CatoBeyond hosting the Eurovision song contest or Formula One, few of us in Britain, I suspect, know much about Azerbaijan. In fact, you may find yourself asking whether it really qualifies as a European country at all. Why then, is British prime minister David Cameron so friendly with Azerbaijani President Ilhan Aliyev? And why did government Energy Minister Michael Fallon visit the country just last month?
When you learn that Azerbaijan’s capital city, Baku, is almost floating on natural gas, and that oil giant BP has strong interests in the country, things become a little clearer.
But it’s not just Conservative party ministers doing the bidding. Former Labour prime minister and part-time Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair is also in on the act. He is understood to be advising a powerful consortium of energy interests and helping to secure a highly controversial oil pipeline from the former Soviet republic.
With its massive oil and gas reserves, the regime in Baku is hoping to attract the sorts of capital flows that swirl through the Middle East, and is explicitly positioning itself as the new Dubai. Unfortunately, it is also using the regimes of that region as the model for its approach to human rights. Those who criticize the government or try to build bridges with people in neighbouring countries are liable to be branded traitors and subjected to arbitrary detention.
The problems in Azerbaijan came to my attention in my role as Member of the European Parliament (MEP). I received an email from a constituent who told me about her friend Leyla Yunus, whom she first met about 15 years ago at a conference of women peacemakers. Leyla made a strong impression, demonstrating her love for her country and her strong desire to help it be at peace with its neighbours.“Leyla, like many other human rights activists in Azerbaijan, has suffered endless harassment, and she and her husband Arif were obliged to get their daughter, their only child, Dinara, to safety in the Netherlands, because of the threats against her life. Over the years I have done what I could to support them,” recalled my constituent after meeting Layla in Baku.Azerbaijan is keen to develop its economic relationship with the European Union (EU) and perhaps even become a member one day. The EU has a stake in the success of the country’s fledgling democracy, since it funds civil-society organizations in the country to the tune of more than $27.9 million given to more than 74 projects since 2007. The repression of civil-society groups has therefore been met with concern at the highest levels of EU institutions.When European Commission President José Barroso visited Azerbaijan’s capital city in June, he stressed the importance of a multi-party democracy, an open society and an open economy as the best way to achieve stability and prosperity. According to Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, he also stressed that a thriving civil society constitutes an essential component of a healthy society.Dunja Mijatovic, the Representative on Freedom of the Media for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), has gone even further. Sharing her ‘alarm’ at the criminal charges against NGOs supporting media freedom in Azerbaijan, she said: “These actions appear to be part of a campaign of targeted suppression of free expression and free media […] media NGOs provide essential support to journalists and the whole media industry. Any actions to intimidate them and interfere with their activities go against OSCE commitments and create a chilling effect on those who champion freedom of the media.”So what can we do? Perhaps most importantly we should not collude in Azerbaijan’s portrayal of itself as just another exotic tourist destination. If ethical tourism means anything, then it means not supporting countries whose governments deny their citizens’ basic rights. Formula One fans can write to the sport’s governing body to demand that they cancel the race scheduled for Baku in 2016. And you could also contact your MEP and MP, letting them know your concerns about the way Leyla Yunus and other activists are being treated.It is hard for those of us who live in Britain to understand what life is like in a country where your basic rights are routinely abused by an oppressive and undemocratic government. Just as Aung San Suu Kyi has represented the struggle against this sort of oppression in Burma, so Leyla Yunus is its figurehead in Azerbaijan. Her greatest protection lies in her story being known and shared. 

Armenian FM to attend Turkish president’s inauguration

August 26, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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Armenia will take part in the inauguration of Turkey’s president-elect on the level of its foreign minister.
Edward Nalbandiaan is to leave for Ankara on August 28 to attend the ceremony, the Foreign Ministry says on its Facebook page.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who heads the ruling Justice and Development Party, was elected to the post of the country’s leader in the nationwide elections held on August 10.  

Source: TertOriginial Article

Armenian FM Set To Attend Erdogan’s Inauguration

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Armenia’s political leadership has been invited to attend Turkish President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inauguration and is likely to send Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian to the ceremony slated for Thursday, it emerged at the weekend.

President Serzh Sarkisian revealed the Turkish invitation as he visited a pro-government youth camp in the Armenian resort town of Tsaghkadzor. A statement by Sarkisian’s press office quoted him as saying there that Nalbandian will “most probably” attend Erdogan’s inauguration along with more than 20 heads of state and governments.

According to the statement, Sarkisian said Nalbandian will use the occasion to clarify whether Erdogan will accept his invitation to take part in the official commemorations in Yerevan of the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

Erdogan has phone conversation with Russia’s Putin

August 24, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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Upon Turkey’s initiative, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President-elect of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Kremlin’s press service reports.The two presidents discussed current developments on the bilateral agenda, including the implementation of joint energy projects. They emphasized their mutual desire to continue developing Russian-Turkish cooperation in different areas. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

Georgian-Armenian Ties ‘At Historic High’

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Relations between Georgia and Armenia are now better than at any other point in their long history, President Serzh Sarkisian said as met with the visiting Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili on Friday.

“Serzh Sarkisian emphasized that Armenian-Georgian relations are at their highest historical level and that that enables the two countries to discuss, in a calm and relaxed manner, any issue related to not only bilateral relations but also regional developments,” the Armenian presidential press service said in a statement on their meeting.

The statement said the two men discussed the “rich agenda” of bilateral ties and regional security. It quoted Gharibashvili as saying that “Armenia is not only Georgia’s neighbor but also friend.”

Yerevan Moves To Facilitate Iraqi Armenian Immigration

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The government approved on Thursday measures designed to make it easier for Iraqi Armenians to take refuge in Armenia or become its dual citizens following the rise of Islamist insurgency in Iraq.

In particular, the government simplified procedures for processing their requests for Armenian citizenship.

According to Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian, Iraqi nationals of Armenian descent will now be able to receive their new passports at Armenia’s diplomatic missions in Iraq and neighboring states. They had to travel to Yerevan for that purpose until now.

Speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan, Kocharian said ethnic Armenians fleeing violence in Iraq will also be exempted from Armenian visa, residency permit and passport fees.

Turkey reassures PKK leader on Kurdish peace – report

August 20, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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Turkey’s intel chief assured the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in a secret meeting last week that the state will press ahead with the peace process to end 30 years of conflict, Hurriyet Daily News reports, citing media sources.
The head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), Hakan Fidan, met on Aug. 15 with PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in his island prison, media quoted Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay as saying.
The meeting came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won the August 10 presidential election – and was aimed at ending any uncertainty over the fate of peace process between Turkey and Kurdish militants under his presidency, the reports said.
The Cumhuriyet newspaper reported that what made Fidan’s visit “exceptional” was the fact that it came just after the election, recalling that Fidan had met with Öcalan on a few occasions over the last 18 months. It said the visit was aimed at answering the question “will Erdoğan continue the peace process when he takes the presidency?”
“Ocalan has been clearly assured that Erdoğan will be a key follower of the [peace] process while in office as president,” the report said. The newspaper noted that Foreign MinisterAhmet Davutoglu is widely expected to become prime minister while Fidan is favourite to become foreign minister.
The report said the visit to Ocalan was aimed at passing on the message that the peace process will continue “independent of individuals.”
Ocalan said on Aug. 16 the long-running insurgency that has cost at least 40,000 lives was “coming to an end,” hailing the start of a new democratic process in Turkey after the election.

Yerevan Reacts To Azeri-Turkish-Georgian Defense Talks

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The Armenian government downplayed the significance of growing military ties between neighboring Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey on Wednesday, while saying that it is mindful of their possible “damaging impact” on Armenia.

The defense ministers of the three states reportedly pledged to step up trilateral cooperation when they met in the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan on Tuesday. According to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, they decided to hold more such talks twice a year and conduct joint military exercises with the aim of protecting regional oil and gas pipelines. Closer contacts will also increase the interoperability of the Azerbaijani, Georgian and Turkish armed forces, said the ministry.

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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

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.

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.