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ECHR orders Turkey to regulate use of tear gas, pay compensation to victim

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Turkey to pay 65,000 euros for the tear gas canister-related death of a passerby during a protest in 2006, also ruling that “Turkey must regulate the use of tear-gas grenades,” the Hurriyet Daily News reports.The victim, Tarık Ataykaya, was passing through a demonstration when he was hit in the head by a tear-gas canister fired by police as they sought to disperse demonstrators who were protesting the death of 14 members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Diyarbakır on March 29, 2006. Ataykaya succumbed to his injuries a few minutes later.The police officer responsible for Ataykaya’s death was never successfully identified due to the fact that the “type No. 12” tear-gas canister cartridge he fired at the victim’s head bore no distinguishing marks.On Jan. 30, 2008, the police disciplinary board decided to close the investigation and not impose any disciplinary sanction on the 14 suspects, on the grounds that there was no evidence to prove their involvement in the death. Many of the police officers present were wearing balaclavas at the time, the court noted.Arguing that he did not have an effective remedy in domestic law that would allow him to sue the perpetrator who fired the fatal shot, Mehmet Nesip Ataykaya, the victim’s father, applied to the ECHR, which ruled that Turkey had violated Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which safeguards the right to life.Besides this “substantive aspect” of the verdict, the court also ruled that the Turkish authorities failed to carry out an effective investigation, delayed the process, and failed to order an expert report. The court also stressed that “the domestic authorities had deliberately created a situation of impunity, making it impossible to identify the police officers” by allowing them to wear balaclavas.Meanwhile, the ECHR added that “Turkish law lacked any specific provisions governing the use of tear gas grenades during demonstrations and did not lay down any instructions for their use” at the time of the events. It noted that the investigation file was still open at the national level, meaning that fresh investigative measures ought to be taken in the Ataykaya case.In addition to the 65,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages, Turkey has been ordered to pay 5,000 euros in legal costs and expenses.Referring to two previous cases, the court “insisted on the need to reinforce, without further delay, guarantees of the proper use of tear-gas grenades, in order to minimize the risks of death and injury stemming from their use.”Under Articles 43 and 44 of the European Convention on Human Rights, chamber judgments are not final. During the three-month period following a judgment’s delivery, any party may request the case be referred to the grand chamber of the court.

Turkey-Customs Union free trade zone to affect Armenia: opinions

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If Turkey’s initiative to create a free trade zone with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan becomes a reality, it will prove to be an unfavorable factor for Armenia as Turkey will become a real actor in that market, with certain anti-Armenian manifestations, expert in Turkic studies Ara Papyan told Tert.am.“Turkey has had this intention for a long time. When Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev spoke of Turkey’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union, he was actually speaking of Turkey’s joining it somehow rather than of its membership. So if this scenario is made a reality, Turkey, as well as other Turkic-speaking countries, will greatly benefit from it. But it will have negative consequences for us,” Papyan said.Such developments are undesirable for Armenia because they will be conducive to the community of interests of Russia and Turkey.“The two countries’ bilateral trade turnover is around $20bn, but they are going to bring it up to $100bn. This is an anti-Armenian figure, with all the ensuing consequences,” he said.Regrettably, Armenia cannot do anything in this situation.“The only thing for us to do is to place our hopes on Russia, its realizing its own geopolitical interests. But, it should be noted, experience shows it does not work,” Papyan said.According to him, Russia is ready to renounce its geopolitical interests for economic interests because, given its heavy situation, it is seeking to resolve short-term problems.Papyan doesn’t think Armenia will be an obstacle in case the sides decide to build such relations. The only power, according to him, may be the United States in case that country doesn’t really want Turkey to develop close ties with Russia.Addressing the topic, economist Vahagn Khachatryan said it is still tpp early to talk about such relations given that none of the states have made any statement so far.“Turkey, which develops large-scale relations with Russia, will naturally desire to expand them. But the problem for the Customs Union member states is Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has always wished to expand the Kazakhstan-Turkey relations, so they now wish to involve Turkey [in the bloc] to realize their economic project,” he noted.Khachatryan added that he doesn’t pin much positive hope on the plan given that ideas of the kind have not been a success in the recent period.“After all, it will depend on how things will develop. Free trade must always have certain limitations; Turkey is World Trade Organization member, while Belarus and Kazakhstan are not. This may cause Turkey to face the same problem as did Armenia,” Khacharyan explained.As for Armenia’s future, the economist said he expects the Armenia-Turkey relations to become an agenda topic after the country joins the Russia-led economic bloc. “It is possible to make such assumptions,” he added. 

Impact Of Armenia’s EEU Membership On Trade Ties ‘Unclear’ To Iran


Iran still has to see what impact Armenia’s planned membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will have on its trade relations with the South Caucasus neighbor, the Islamic Republic’s ambassador in Yerevan said on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference, Mohammad Reisi said that Iran has a vague idea about the emerging Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan that Armenia plans to join later this year.

The EEU, which is expected to become functional on January 1, 2015, among other things, will imply common economic space of the four former Soviet countries and the application of common customs duties at the border.

Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian announced on Thursday that Yerevan will sign a relevant treaty and formally join the EEU in late October.

Businessman’s Arrest In Moscow Sparks Reaction In Armenia, Karabakh


The arrest of a wealthy Russia-based Armenian businessman in Moscow over alleged criminal connections has elicited a strong reaction from his family and friends in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, with some alleging an ‘Azerbaijani scheme’ behind the development.

Levon Hayrapetian, 65, was remanded into custody for two months by a Moscow court on the application of Russian investigators looking into the businessman’s alleged ties with a notorious Russian gang and possible involvement in ‘illegal financial machinations’.

Hayrapetian was detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service, the successor of the Soviet KGB, at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport on July 15 as he was reportedly returning from Monaco.


Obama Nominates New U.S. Ambassador To Armenia


President Barack Obama has announced his decision to nominate another U.S. career diplomat as Washington’s next ambassador to Armenia.

The White House announced late on Thursday that Obama will ask the U.S. Senate to approve the appointment of Richard Mills, until recently the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, to the position.

 “I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country,” it quoted Obama as saying in reference to Mills and more than a dozen other individuals nominated to key U.S. administration posts.

The current U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, John Heffern, began his tour of duty in October 2011. Most of his predecessors had served in Armenia for three years.

Armenian parliament speaker host British envoy

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Armenian Parliament Speaker Galust Sahakyan received on Thursday British Ambassador to Armenia Katherine Jane Leach.Mr Sahakyan highlighted the development of bilateral parliamentary relations, which were established in 1992, when a British-Armenian parliamentary friendship group was formed in the British parliament. Mr Sahakyan emphasized bilateral parliamentary cooperation at the international level.Ms Katherine Jane Leach noted that Great Britain attaches high importance to developing relations with Armenia, and Armenian MPs visit to Great Britain will give new impetus to the bilateral parliamentary ties.The sides discussed regional problems, Armenian-Turkish relations, Armenia’s membership in EurAsEC, Armenia-EU cooperation. They stressed the importance of developing trade and economic ties. Speaker Sahakyan expressed hope that British MPs will take part in the events marking the centennial of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey. 

Young Man from Diyarbekir Seeks Descendants of Armenian Forefathers Who Migrated to Yerevan in 1915.

July 7, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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15:34, July 6, 2014

Tatev Grigoryan

We met 19 year-old Yakup Ecen in a Diyarbakir coffee shop by chance several days ago.

Yakup works as a waiter in the largely Kurdish town in southeastern Turkey.

The young man approached us, asking if there were Armenians in the group. Yakup told us that his forefathers were Armenians.

“I was born in the Kulp district in   Diyarbekir Province. We have Armenians roots. My grandfather’s father was Armenian. In 1915, there was my great grandfather and his four brothers. They killed one of them. Two remained and converted to Islam. The other two migrated to the town of Yerevan. From that day on no contact was possible. It was only 30-40 years ago that a letter reached us from Yerevan. The old folk say that letter was lost. Others say it was snatched away by some villagers and never returned. Still others say that one of our elders tore it up. Whatever the story, what is certain is that a letter arrived from Yerevan,” Yakup tells me.

Armenia may face water shortage if no measures taken – expert

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With the average air temperature being above normal levels in Armenia, the country may soon face a shortage of water supply in case of no appropriate measures are taken, warns a specialist.
“The average annual temperature in Armenia has increased by about one degree [Celsius] compared to what we had 20 years ago, while the precipitations have decreased in number,” Aram Gabrielyan, a national coordinator for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told Tert.am, citing official data.
He said a failure to undertake special steps may lead to an estimated increase in  temperature by 20C in 203C and a about 30C in 2070, with further 40C-50C increase threatening the country in 2100.
Gabrielyan said he expects the worst-case scenario to make Armenia’s climate similar to that of the Iranian plateau.
“The Armenian highlands, whose north-eastern part covers the Republic of Armenia, is on average 600m-800m above the Middle Asian and Iranian mountain plateaus. The recorded temperature is five percent. So if we face a temperature inrease by up to five percent – which is the worst-case scenario – we’ll have climate conditions similar to those in the Iranian mountain plateau,” he explained.
The specialist added that he already sees the water shortage problem in the country, with the rising temperature contributing to a decrease in the number of precipitations by reducing the river flow.
“We have, on the one hand, less precipitations and on the other hand, evaporating ones caused by increasing temperatures of water. So there is a double effect on the river flow. At the same time, the demand for water increases due to the drying climate. So we have an increasing demand with a decreasing supply of water,” he noted.
He said the two factors contribute to over 20%-30% shortage in some areas. “So the demand for water will be observed several mountainous areas with arid-zone agriculture, and be even higher in those areas where water is in demand today, the Ararat valley, for example.
The specialist warned against releasing water from Artesian dams. “The water supply in Artesian basins is formed from the underground inflow of waters absorbed from precipitations. Fewer precipitations will reduce the water flow to the artesian basin. So we have to use take less water from the basin to maintain the balance. While we now can get 50 million cubic meters of water from the Ararat artesian basin, for instance, only 30 million of it can be accessible to us in a decade,” he said.
He said further that the shortage will also affect the water balance of Lake Sevan, causing more water to evaporate from its surface. “The more we get adapted to the climate conditions, saving water resources, the better,” he added.
Gabrielyan pointed out to possible technological and organizational solutions, noting that a corresponding action plan to be submitted to the Government next year is now under elaboration.
“This, of course, bears a global character, but in order to save water [resources] environmentalists have to step up efforts instead of arguing with the Government,” he added.
But Gabreilyan didn’t agree that the current shortage in dams is due only to climate changes. “That’s bears, of course, a certain relationship with thatm but if they aren’t filled with the necessary [quantity of water], it is no longer due to weather. And even if it is, it is necessary to take measures to save water in order to eliminate the lossses.”
In conclusion he proposed two possible solutions: reducing the greenhouse emissions and getting adjusted to the changing climate.
Speaking to Tert.am, Mher Mkrtumyan, the head of the Territorial Administration Ministry’s State Committee of Water Resources, dwelled on the situation in the dams. “The dam in Akhuryan [Shirak region] contained 403 cubic meters of water last year, but the [quantity] was 193 cubic meters in the same period of this year. In river Arax, we had 23 m/sec drinking water last year against the 10m/sec this year,” the official said, pointing out to a double decrease.
He further elaborated on the causes, attributing the shortage to weather conditions and accumulated waters in the upper streams. “We know where Arax River comes from, so we cannot make any intervention,” he said, noting that the river’s resources are used on Turkey’s territory as well.
Turkey, which now exploits the second dam on Arax, is going to complete the construction of the third this year. The fourth dam, which will be in Karakurt, will have a capacity of 1 million cubic meters. The four dams together are expected to accumulate an estimated 1,380 cubic million of waters. It is noteworthy that the estimated annual supply of Arax is 2,500 million cubic meters.
The official agreed that the Government is facing a serious strategic challenge, but said they are taking necessary steps. Asked why the authorities are seeking only temporary solutions (such as releasing large quantities of water from an Artesian basin and exploiting 120 water wells), Mkrtumyan replied that those were forced measures aimed at organizing the region’s irrigation water supply.
He said four dams are under construction in Armenia today, adding they expect to complete the activities in five years’ time. “There are already projects regarding certain dams, and documents have been drawn up,” he added. 

Haykakan Zhamanak: Iraq’s increasing importance for Armenia

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President Serzh Sargsyan on Thursday signed a decree to appoint Armenia’s consul general in Aleppo as the ambassador to Iraq, the paper says, considering the move very important against the backdrop of the developments in Middle East.
The paper notes that the newly-appointed envoy, Karen Grigoryan, has become very specialized in diplomatic work in hot spots over the course of years.
Iraq, which is now on the threshold of the Syrian scenario, with the ISIS rebels having held several regions and the Kurdistan leadership vowing an independence referendum, we are very likely to see a new state in the region soon, comments the paper.
It notes further that Iraq has recently acquired a significant importance for Armenia due to the increasing exports (an estimated 3% of our exports go there).
“With $50 million worth goods having been imported to that country from Armenia, it can be a very promising market for us. In 2013, for example, $46 million worth tobacco, $1 million worth alcoholic drinks, about $1 million worth potato and another $1 million worth mineral water was exported to Iraq from Armenia,” writes the paper. 

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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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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.