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Country branding: New York-based company working on Armenia’s new image

February 26, 2014 Armenia, South America, Turkey No Comments

If you think Armenia’s brands are ancient khachkars (stone crosses), the biblical mount of Ararat, which is technically situated in modern-day Turkey, apricots, pomegranates, duduk or lavash, well, the company tasked with developing Armenia’s new country branding thinks you may be not quite right.

These are beautiful symbols, but hardly the best means to present the country to the world in the 21st century, thinks Vasken Kalayjian, director of New York-based Brand, a company engaged in country branding.

Still, the answer to the main question – and what is Armenia’s national brand? – has not been found yet. Kalayjian says he gives this question to everyone he talks to in Armenia.

Wife of Georgian Driver Arrested for Smuggling Heroin: ‘My husband is innocent’

February 26, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Georgia, Turkey No Comments
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17:43, February 25, 2014

The wife of a man driving a truck in which 928 kilos of heroin were found by Meghri customs officials on January 17 says her husband is innocent.

Avtandil Martiashvili, the driver, had entered Armenia from Iran and was headed for Georgia. He was arrested on the spot and charged with drug smuggling. A Turkish citizen, Osman Oğurlu, was arrested several days later in Yerevan as an accomplice.

Hetq today spoke with the driver’s wife Leyla Martiashvili.

What do you know about what happened to your husband?

Russia is right to be upset over events in Ukraine – Financial Times

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By Georgy Mirsky
Ukraine’s role is pivotal to the great Russian state – whether yesterday’s Soviet Union or today’s federation. Two decades ago, I told my foreign colleagues that the USSR could survive without any of its 14 other republics. I have no doubt it collapsed when Ukrainians voted in a referendum in favour of independence in 1991.
The reason is not the economy. Ukraine was the most industrially advanced of all the Soviet republics, yet Russia can do without it.Ukraine badly needs Russian oil and gas, yet no disaster is in sight even if Moscow breaks its economic ties with Kyiv altogether, which is highly unlikely.
Nor is sentiment paramount despite the heritage of Kyiv as “the mother of Russian cities” and the sieges of Sebastopol during the Crimean war and the war against Nazi Germany 72 years ago. Historical memory cannot be erased, and most Russians believe that Ukrainians are just a part of the Russian nation.
Rather, the main reason for Russian sensitivity is geopolitics. One of the causes of anti-American feeling is the deep and bitter frustration borne of the conviction that Russia has been marginalised. Its former allies in eastern Europe and the Baltic states are not only gone but quite unfriendly toward Moscow.
In Asia, an incomprehensible and unpredictable China is calling the shots. In the Middle East, most former partners and footholds have disappeared. For years, official propaganda has been doing its best to convince the population that the west, that eternal enemy of Russia, has not renounced its sinister designs. Worse, it looks as though at least some of Russia’s top leaders or their advisers share this conviction.
The cold war zero-sum game mentality is by no means dead. Russia’s leaders regard the west, particularly the US, with much suspicion. They do not believe that Washington is bent on war, but they assume that, given an opportunity, the Americans will never miss a chance to do something nasty to Russia.
Ukraine is far more important to Russia than Georgia, where six years ago the Kremlin was ready to go war rather than lose face. In Ukraine, just like in Syria, the bottom line is to avoid being seen to back down under American pressure. Even a partitioned Ukraine is better than a pro-western one. The propaganda line is that the whole circus has been organised by NATO with the aim of snatching a great and important country from Moscow’s grip. The domestic audience is told that the west’s real purpose is moving NATO’s military bases closer to Russia’s heartland.
This is why it is easy to understand that official Moscow is terribly disappointed with the way things have turned out in Ukraine, primarily because it is afraid that Victor Yanukovich’s ouster will be regarded in the world as Russia’s defeat. Some feel President Vladimir Putin has been humiliated since he had allegedly tried to buy Yanukovich and failed.
The game is far from over. Russia’s best hope appears to be Ukrainian extreme nationalists, just as in Syria al-Qaeda, the Shias’ mortal enemy, serves President Bashar al-Assad to frighten away both moderate Syrians and the west. 

Chess: Yerevan to host European Championship

February 25, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Georgia, Turkey No Comments

The 15th European Individual Chess Championship will be held in Yerevan, Armenia, on March 2-15.

The Championship is dedicated to the memory of the world’s 9th champion Tigran Petrosian whose 85th birthday is celebrated this year, reports Armchess.am.

The championship will be an 11-round Swiss system tournament, with about 270 chess players from 27 countries participating in it. Among the participants there will be about 130 grandmasters and more than 200 chess players with international titles.

The largest delegations are Armenia (about 80 participants), Russia (53), Georgia (17), Israel (17), Ukraine (13), Turkey (10).

According to the regulation, the chess players who take the first 23 places at the Championship are entitled to participate in the World Cup.

Police chief sentenced to 28 years for sexually abusing 14-year-old girl

February 24, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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A court in Turkey’s northwestern province of Sakarya has sentenced a police chief to 28 years and four months in prison on charges of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl, the Hurriyet Daily News reports. A total of 34 people, including two police chiefs and students, were initially arrested on charges of abusing and raping the high school student, identified only with the initials Ö.Ç., as a part of the investigation.The police chief, identified as N.Ş., who has been sent in prison, was the only suspect under arrest. The students, who were previously released pending trial as they were under 18, were sentenced five years and four months in prison, but the court decided to suspend the verdict for five years.The girl has been under government protection and received psychological treatment after the incident was revealed in 2012. A confidentiality order was issued for the case.

Human Rights Watch urges President Gül to veto judiciary bill

February 21, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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Human Rights Watch has called on Turkish President Abdullah Gül to veto a controversial judiciary bill that was approved by the Parliament last week, the Hurriyet Daily News reports. On Feb. 15, Parliament passed comprehensive amendments to the existing law on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), giving the justice minister, who already heads the council, more direct control over the body and a stronger role in its decision-making. The changes will increase the likelihood of judges and prosecutors being disciplined or reassigned at the behest of the government.“Turkey’s new judiciary law means just one thing and that is greater government control over the judiciary. For the sake of the rule of law in Turkey, President Gül should veto the new law,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch.“The minister’s – and thus the government’s – control over the inspection board is the most alarming part of the new law on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors. This is a major tool for a government to control the High Council, and ultimately the judiciary,” Sinclair-Webb added.The bill has also drawn a fierce reaction from the opposition, as well as the European Union, with concerns that the government aims to tighten its grip on the judiciary.The government’s move to control the board came after a corruption and bribery investigation involving ministers’ sons and the head of a state-run bank. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has repeatedly called the investigation a conspiracy against his government, and has overseen a purge that has seen thousands of police officers and scores of prosecutors being demoted and reassigned over the past two months.

‘Armenia is a Simple and Easy Country’: Tales of an Italian Chef in Yerevan

February 21, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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12:30, February 20, 2014

It’s due to his profession that Italian chef Cristian Casimiro Sciortino found himself in Armenia. He is convinced that his profession chose him and not the other way around: at 17, when he began to study cooking, he understood that this is what he really wants to be doing.

In Armenia, People Feel Alone

Before coming to Armenia, Cristian  worked with an Armenian colleague in Italy. When his colleague decided to open an Italian restaurant in Yerevan, he suggested the Italian chef come with him to Armenia for a few months.

At the time, Cristian also had an offer to go to Germany, where he had worked before. But he decided to come to Armenia, and he now works as the chef at a newly opened Italian restaurant in downtown Yerevan.

Puma seeks to produce goods closer to Western consumers

February 21, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Sports, Turkey No Comments
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German sportswear firm Puma SE (PUMG.DE) is looking to produce more goods closer to customers in Europe and the Americas, but will not abandon Asia in the next few years despite rising labor costs and political unrest, its chief executive said.
Puma, which has 178 suppliers in 32 countries, sources 79 percent of its goods from Asia, mostly from China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia – the latter where a violent crackdown on garment workers striking over pay has disrupted production at its suppliers.
CEO Bjoern Gulden expressed frustration that industry lead times are so long, with ranges being designed now only going on sale in autumn 2015.
Puma is looking into producing more goods closer to consumers to be more responsive to demand, including in Turkey and eastern Europe, and in Mexico to serve the Americas, he said, without giving further details. Over 70 percent of the firm’s sales were in Europe and the Americas last year.
But the chief executive said his first priority was to revamp Puma’s products before overhauling its supply chain.
“Everybody is looking at how to improve the speed and flexibility of sourcing but for the next three to four years the majority will come out of Asia because of the infrastructure,” Gulden told Reuters on Thursday after Puma’s annual news conference.
“Yes, there are issues in Cambodia and Bangladesh but to run away from it and pull out of the country cannot be the answer,” he said. “You can’t say this is a very poor country and so we shouldn’t go there. It’s the opposite.”
Rising labor costs in China in recent years have prompted brand to seeks lower-cost markets in Asia such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Cambodia, countries where demands are now mounting for better pay.
A factory collapse in Bangladesh last year that killed more than 1,100 people has put pressure on big brands to improve working conditions for those making products for the West.
Election-related violence there earlier this year also disrupted the garment sector. 

Azerbaijan, Turkey to sign joint missile deal

February 20, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Azerbaijan, Turkey No Comments
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Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense Industry and ROKETSAN company of Turkey will sign a final document on the joint production of missiles at an Azerbaijani facility, the APA News Agency reported, citing Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM).
Technical issues on joint production have already been solved. Necessary measures are being taken to start the production.
SSM has not revealed when the final document will be signed.
According to the agreement, 107 and 122 mm caliber missiles will be manufactured at the Azerbaijani facility with the participation of ROKETSAN. The engines for these missiles will be produced by ROKETSAN, other parts in Azerbaijan. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

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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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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.

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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.

2013 in Civil Society: Protests and more protests


The struggle of civil movements this year has been comprehensive and diverse with limited success in certain fields due to unified efforts and active involvement of the civil society.

Despite the rather passive start of the year in terms of civil movements, the second half of 2013 turned out to be tense with active developments.

Some analysts believe that especially after the February 18 presidential ballot, when current president Serzh Sargsyan won a decisive victory over his opponents and was re-elected for a second term, despite the widespread poverty and atmosphere of injustice in the country, people became even more aware of the fact that is it impossible to achieve changes via elections and started practicing their constitutional rights to civil protest and disobedience more frequently.

Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments


2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.

Heritage reshuffle: Postanjyan becomes new leader of parliamentary faction


Zaruhi Postanjyan has been elected new head of the opposition Heritage faction in parliament. The change comes after Ruben Hakobyan announced his decision to resign as faction leader earlier today.

Talking to media in parliament Hakobyan said Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian had been notified about his move well in advance. He left questions about reasons for his step without commentary, only saying that he had decided to step down as faction leader before the recent scandal around Postanjyan in the wake of her controversial question to President Serzh Sargsyan about his gambling habit at the PACE plenary session in Strasbourg on October 2.