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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.

Ferguson police ‘detain, beat, threaten’ Anadolu Agency correspondent

August 20, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Film, Turkey No Comments
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Hours after nearly 50 protesters were arrested on the 11th night of racially charged demonstrations over the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Turkey’s semi-official Anadolu Agency (AA) has reported that its correspondent was “beaten and detained as he tried to cover the protests.”
Bilgin Şaşmaz was filming a clash between police and protesters in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis in the United States, when the incident took place on Aug. 19. “Şaşmaz was confronted by the harsh intervention of the police,” AA reported, adding that he was forced to lie down after he insisted on filming before he was handcuffed and put in a cell. He was released after five hours.
Şaşmaz told AA that his life was threatened while he was photographing a policeman who was about to fire a rubber bullet gun. “The policeman told me: ‘If you direct your flash toward me once again, I will kill you,’” he recounted.
He also said he went on to film in the middle of the protesters despite these threats, after one of the demonstrators threw a bottle at a police officer. He was then removed from the scene by a police officer although he was shouting, “Press, Press!”
Şaşmaz said he was then forced to kneel down while his camera was damaged, which made his knees bleed.
Kemal ztrk, the CEO of Anadolu Agency, said in a tweet on Aug. 20 that Şaşmaz was “in shock.”“We’re trying to get him out of Ferguson,” ztrk added.
Observers from Amnesty International said Aug. 20 that U.S. law-enforcement officers had used excessive force against demonstrators protesting against the shooting dead of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Amnesty also urged the U.S. “to end police violence” in Ferguson.
The Freedom of the Press Foundation has reported that at least 13 journalists have been arrested in Ferguson since the protests began on Aug. 13.

U.S. ‘Refuses Arms Deal With Azerbaijan’

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The United States has reportedly refused to sell military vehicles to Azerbaijan because of the unresolved conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Baku-based APA news agency reported this week that the Azerbaijani government offered to buy some of the Humvee and Cougar vehicles used by U.S. troops in Afghanistan but was rebuffed by Washington. Citing unnamed military sources, it said the U.S. military pointed to a long-running U.S. arms embargo on all parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The Pentagon announced earlier this summer that about half of the military vehicles will be sold to friendly nations or disposed of otherwise during the ongoing U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which is due to be completed by the end of 2016. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have contributed small military contingents to the NATO-led multinational mission in Afghanistan as part of their cooperation with the U.S. war on terror.

Davutoglu likely to be Turkey’s next PM: President Gul

August 20, 2014 Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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Turkey’s outgoing President Abdullah Gul has become the highest level official who named Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as Turkey’s next prime minister, Hurriyet Daily News reports.
“As far as it seems, our foreign minister Ahmet Bey will take over (the prime ministry). You know that it’s me who took him to the politics and to the state life. I had appointed him as an ambassador,” Gul told the Ankara bureau chiefs of Turkish newspapers late Aug 19 on the sidelines of his last farewell reception.
President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan is yet to conclude his consultations with his party officials before officially announcing who will succeed him as the chairman and the prime minister. Gul’s announcement came two days before the AKP convenes its Central Executive Board to give the final decision on the issue.
Davutoglu was first appointed as the chief foreign policy advisor of Gl in his short prime ministry in early 2003. He continued to serve as advisor to both Erdoğan and Gl until 2009 when he was appointed as the foreign minister. Davutoglu was elected to the Parliament in 2011 elections.

US plays deterring role in case of Turkey, Azerbaijan – Levon Shirinyan

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Two factors account for US decision not to sell the military equipment brought out of Afghanistan to Azerbaijan.
First, the US law. Secondly, the US considers it unacceptable to sponsor a rogue state like Azerbaijan, which fails to meet democratic standards, political scientist Levon Shirinyan told Tert.am.
The US has refused to sell Cougar and HMMWV military vehicles withdrawn from Afghanistan to Azerbaijan, the APA news agency reported quoting military sources.
“I have always said that the US is not only our friend, but is also deterring Turkey and Azerbaijan. Not that if Russia is our ally, the US is our enemy. The US is applying additional mechanisms of deterring to Azerbaijan,” he said.
With respect to the opinion that it is the US that is the mastermind behind the tension on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, and that the US and Azerbaijan have close relations, Mr Shirinyan said:
“This is economic cooperation, but they are cautious about politics.”
As to the parallels between the US position and Russia’s arms sales to Azerbaijan, Mr Shirinyan said:
“We have too much focused on Russia’s sale of arms to Azerbaijan. Russia’s traditions are different – Russia has never been a democratic state. In contrast to the US, such issues are not a priority for it. One thing is in Armenians’ favor in this matter: the US does not want war and gives Azerbaijan to understand it should not go beyond the limits.”

Karabakh ‘Ready’ To Accept Yazidi Refugees

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Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership on Tuesday expressed readiness to grant asylum to Yazidis who have been forced to flee their homes in parts of northern Iraq controlled by the Islamic State.

Davit Babayan, the spokesman for Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh president, referred to the Yazidis as “brotherly” people facing genocide at the hands of radical Sunni insurgents.

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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.