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“The country is a country”: The Strength of Armenian Resolution

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15:36, October 22, 2014

By Vrej Haroutounian

As I sit to write this article in my office in Yerevan, my mind wanders away a few hundred kilometers to the desert lands encompassing Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

Seemingly, I am dumbfounded at the lack of change over the span of a century and atcertain patterns thathave adapted themselves into the regionalebb and flow.

This brings to light the question of the purported advancement that mankind has experienced in the 21st century and our tendency to constantly boast of it.

Walking down the streets of Yerevan, I am witness to people conducting their everyday lives. My mind once again drifts to an image of Yerevan a century ago.

Armenian Ruling Party Slams Opposition ‘Traitors’

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The parliamentary leader of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) sparked a bitter verbal exchange with outspoken opposition lawmakers on Tuesday after accusing them of accepting money from the West and Azerbaijan to betray Armenia.

“We witnessed yesterday a classical example of high treason,” charged Vahram Baghdasarian. “The Armenian parliament’s rostrum was used for spreading Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s disinformation. False information was made public here ahead of a meeting between the president of our country and the president of an unfriendly country (Azerbaijan).”

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Closed Border? Armenia Imports Most of Its Wood from Turkey

October 21, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Georgia, Turkey No Comments
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00:02, October 21, 2014

Readers might be surprised to learn that despite closed borders, for the past four years Armenia has been importing the bulk of its wood and wood by-products from Turkey.

Such imports, according to Armenia’s National Statistical Service, reached a peak in 2011 at a value of US$20 million. Following Turkey, Armenia gets most of its wood and wood by-products from Ukraine, China and Georgia.

Armenia’s Imports: Wood/Wood Byproducts (in USD millions) Surprisingly, Armenia also exports wood. In the past two years, the largest recipients have been Moldova and Canada. Armenia’s wood exports are dwarfed by the amounts imported. Exports reached a peak in 2010 at a value of US$ 282,000.

Taksim is ‘world’s ugliest square,’ Turkish PM says

October 20, 2014 Armenia, Culture, Turkey No Comments
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Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has described Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square as “the world’s ugliest square,” the Hurriyet Daily News reports. “If anyone tells me that Taksim is a perfect square, then I would tell him that it is the world’s ugliest square,” Davutoğlu told a group of journalists aboard the prime ministerial ANA aircraft, returning to Ankara from an official trip to the northern province of Amasya on Oct. 19.“I know about the squares in Venice and in Isfahan … After seeing them, you feel yourself in a vacuum on Taksim Square,” he added, also labeling both Taksim’s Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM) and neighboring hotel as “ugly.”Davutoğlu referred to groups who he said “abused the Taksim problem,” while touching on to issue of urbanization in Istanbul.The government’s controversial Taksim pedestrianization project had triggered widespread protests in May 2013 and was cancelled by Turkey’s Council of State earlier this year. The project for the politically-charged square involved the razing of the adjacent Gezi Park to be replaced by a rebuilt Ottoman-era Artillery Barracks.“Taksim Square was not gradually developed as a culture, unlike in Venice and Isfahan. Incidentally, if Taksim had not been formed and a military barracks had not been built there, there wouldn’t even be a square,” Davutoğlu also said, adding that an Armenian cemetery had been located in the area in the past.“I would say the barracks should not have been demolished in the first place. Although not pretty, they displayed the architecture of the time. But now, should the building be rebuilt after it was demolished? Not necessarily. These are matters that can be debated,” he said.Davutoğlu also referred to the “Bloody Labor Day” demonstrations of 1977, in which more than 30 people died in a stampede in Taksim Square triggered by gunfire by assailants who remain unidentified. “This square shouldn’t be turned into a temple now because May Day happened there,” he said.Amid ongoing concerns about Istanbul’s chronic urbanization and infrastructure problems, Davutoğlu stressing that he had instructed the related departments to not “allow the corruption of urban texture due to commercial interests.”Click here to check our list of the Top 5 Politically Charged Squares in Istanbul.
 

China and Jordan agree to closer media cooperation

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Jordan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour and He Ping, the editor-in chief of the People’s Republic of China’s Xinhua News Agency, met in Amman on Saturday in order to coordinate media and cultural cooperation between the two countries.
Ensour said on Saturday that his country is seeking to establish closer media and cultural ties with China, which would complement the countries’ political and economic relationship. The Prime Minister also stated that China-Jordan relations have made significant progress, including with respect to media cooperation, since Jordan’s King Abdullah II visited the People’s Republic in 2013.
Ensour expressed hopes that Xinhua News Agency, as one of the world’s leading media conglomerates, would put more effort into covering the achievements of Jordan and other Arab nations in diverse spheres and expand the scope of positive PR for Jordan, as well as contribute to better intercultural communication between China and the Arab kingdom.
In turn, Ping vowed to further increase Xinhua’s already-strong positive media reporting of the state of affairs in Jordan in order to cement the friendship between the two nations, Xinhua reports. Later that day, Ping also had a meeting with Jordan’s Minister for Media Affairs, Mohammad Momani, to discuss the details of Xinhua’s deeper involvement in the Middle-Eastern kingdom.
He Ping of Xinhua is currently touring the Middle East. The Chinese top media official has already visited Iran and Kuwait during the current trip.

Harrods Wendy house that costs the same as real home in blackburn: £85,000 ‘room for princess’ comes with satin curtains

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The turrets are made from hand-beaten copper and the fleurs-de-lis finials on the roof have been expertly carved from the finest tulipwood, the Daily Mail reports.Clearly no expense has been spared to create this luxury home, designed for a little girl with big dreams – and indulgent parents.For, the ‘Room for a Princess’ is not your average property. It’s actually a children’s playhouse on sale at Harrods – and at £85,000, it costs the same as a real house elsewhere in the country.Currently available for £85,000 is a two-bedroom semi-detached house in Blackburn, a two-bedroom flat in Plymouth and a three-bedroom cottage in south Lanarkshire.The playhouse is designed as a dressing-up room and has been made by Northamptonshire-based firm The Master Wishmakers. It took a team of six craftsmen ten weeks.The playhouse’s main structure is tulipwood – a lightweight wood from North America – but the floor is decorated with marquetry, painstakingly put together using American walnut, maple and oak. Inside, there’s a heavy satin curtain with gold braiding.Harrods says the dressing room has attracted numerous expressions of interest from clients in the Middle East, as well as celebrities and royals, since going on sale a month ago, although it refused to say how many – if any – have actually been sold.Nino Rosella, of The Master Wishmakers, said: ‘We specialise in the outrageous and the fantastical.‘Nothing is too unusual for us to take a stab at making – as long as it’s scientifically possible, we’ll build it. And we guarantee never to make the same item more than once.‘We have built three-storey treehouses which are insulated, with heating, running water and one even had a cinema room.’The company’s most ambitious project to date is Challis Island, a pirate-themed Caribbean island with a lagoon nestling in a lake within 60 acres of English countryside. 
 
 
 
 
 

Turkish Cyprus sends letter to UN to reopen peace talks

October 19, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu has sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for the re-launching of negotiations with the Greek Cypriot administration, the Hurriyet Daily News reports. According to a statement issued by the president’s office on Oct. 18, Eroğlu called on the Greek Cypriot side to return to the negotiating table.The letter comes after the Greek Cypriot administration suspended talks on Oct. 8, in retaliation to Turkey’s sending of a warship to monitor an oil and gas exploration mission off the Cyprus coast.“Negotiations are the only way to reach a solution,” said Eroğlu, calling for a return to the negotiating table to reach a “fair, sustainable and negotiated solution.”Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot government have expressed strong opposition to any unilateral move by the Greek Cypriot administration to explore hydrocarbon resources around the island, saying natural resources should be exploited in a fair manner under a united Cyprus. 

Armenians of Iraqi Kurdistan – Taking Up Arms Against the Ongoing ISIL Threat

October 18, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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11:40, October 18, 2014

Commander Murad Vardanian – “We went to confront the treacherous enemy on the riverbank, before they reached our villages.”

Erbil, Dohuk, Zakho, Avzrouk, Havresk, Ishkender….

They’re all towns and villages in Iraqi Kurdistan where Armenians are living today. Most speak Kurdish, but they still adhere to Christianity.

Their nationality and religion have made them a double target for the forces of ISIL/IS who seek to create a radical Islamic caliphate across large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

Recently, I came across an interesting post in Keghart.com written by a certain HamoMoskofian. He had recently travelled to the area and wrote about meeting MuradVardanian, a former Iraqi army commander, who now heads a group of local Armenian fighters defending these communities from ISIL assaults.

Historian Claude Mutafian: The Old and New Diasporas Have Yet to Reconcile

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13:14, October 16, 2014

During a talk held the other day at the Naregatsi Art Union in Yerevan, Sorbonne Professor Claude Mutafian said that relations between the diaspora and Armenia had become further complicated due to the existence of two diasporas – the one created as a result of the 1915 Genocide and the one comprised of those who have left Armenia in the post-independence era.

Mutafian said that the two have yet to reconcile themselves and gave the example of recent clashes between the two in the French city of Nice.

The historian lamented the loss of once culturally significant communities like Aleppo, but was hopeful that the community in Lebanon would survive.

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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

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.