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Turkey’s Erdogan discusses ISIL with Obama, Biden

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The presidents of Turkey and the US discussed the threat of terror groups and the Syrian crisis Sept. 25, Hurriyet Daily News reports, citing officials.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Barack Obama spoke via phone before Erdogan met with US Vice President Joe Biden at a New York hotel on the sidelines of the UN Summit, Turkish sources close to the president said.The two leaders emphasized the partnership between Turkey and the US in fighting terrorist organizations in the region, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Erdogan and Obama also agreed to remain in close contact concerning the ongoing terrorist crisis in the Middle East, the source said.
The meeting between Biden and Erdogan was closed to the press and both meetings were initiated by the Americans, according to reports. 

Armenia not far from raising issue of withdrawing its signature from Armenian-Turkish protocols

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Chairman of the European Integration NGO Karen Bekaryan commented on Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s speech at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.He stressed that the UN General Assembly is the best venue for presenting you own nation’s positions to the world.With respect to the part of the Armenian leader’s speech that deals with Turkey and the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, Mr Bekaryan noted that it showed Armenia has no intention to wait forever in what concerns the Armenian-Turkish protocols, especially in the context of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.“Discussions on the protocols in Armenia were clearly signaled. The soft-line option was used – the one of withdrawing the protocols from the Armenian Parliament’s agenda. However, a harder-line options could have been used – the one of withdrawing Armenia’s signature. But we should realize the logic of diplomatic ethics. The issue of withdrawing the protocols from the Parliament has been raised. I am sure that if, within a reasonable timeframe, Turkey does not show any progress except for its hypocritical statements, we are not far from withdrawing our signature,” Mr Bekaryan said.With respect to the strong-worded statement on Armenian society’s harsh response to Turkey refusing to sign the protocols without preconditions, he said:“It was a clear signal, first of all to Turkey and, secondly, to all the mediators directly or indirectly involved in the Armenian-Turkish process and in the signing of the Armenian-Turkish protocols – the United States, European Union, Council of Europe, France, Russia and so on.“Turkey not ratifying the protocols or showing such a cynical attitude to the process is a slap in the face of all those behind the process, not Armenia alone. And it was also a call for the international community’s cautiousness – in a broader sense,” he said.The primary point is that Armenia has been living without the protocols, irrespective of its good will to launch the process without any preconditions, given the fact an unacceptable cost is demanded for that, especially by a state that has neither legal nor political or moral right.Bekaryan stressed the importance of the president’s word of gratitude to all the countries which have recognized the Genocide.“They called the international community’s attention to the fact that a failure to condemn the Genocide and eliminate its consequences is not only a moral or even a political issue but also a security concern, and the failure to punish it leads to other crimes of genocide,” he noted.The analyst further addressed the president’s remark regarding the Scottish referendum. “We see that the developments have not just begun; neither they have finished or will finish with Scotland. We see what is going on in our direct neighborhood – I mean the European community from where we hear signals,” he said, pointing out to the developments in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country.“This is only the first part of the big list. And if we understand that all this is actual in Europe, should we be surprised at all that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic cannot think of being a part of Azerbaijan which continues behaving like an aggressor,” he added.
 

Armenia’s Biggest Ever Drug Bust Trial Postponed; Case Documents First Have to be Translated into Georgian

September 25, 2014 Armenia, Georgia, Turkey No Comments
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00:28, September 25, 2014

An Armenian court today postponed the pretrial examination of the largest drug bust ever to have allegedly taken place in Armenia, or for that matter, regionally.

The newly arrived Georgian lawyer of Avtandil Martiashvili, a Georgian citizen arrested earlier this year when the truck he was driving into Armenia was found to contain 850 kilograms of heroin,demanded that all documents pertaining to his client be translated into Georgian so that the accused could follow the proceedings.of 

The court sustained the attorney’s request and scheduled the next court session for October 29.

Martiashvili was arrested on January 17 of this year when Armenian customs officials at Meghri found 850 kilograms of heroin hidden in the truck he was driving.  

Armenian president’s speech at UN General Assembly focused on Armenian states’ security – Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan

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In an interview with Tert.am, political scientist Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan said that all the issues addressed in Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s speech at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly were focused on one fundamental issue, that is, the security of the two Armenian states.According to him, Armenia’s leader considered the issue from its different aspects – Armenian-Turkish relations, a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, Middle East developments, and so on.Asked about the “messages” Armenia’s leader tried to convey to the international community, Mr Melik-Shahnazaryan said:“The Armenian president’s speech dealt with many aspects. But all the issues addressed were focused on one fundamental issue, namely, the security of the Armenian states. This is the major problem President Serzh Sargsyan addressed at the United Nations, approaching the issue from its different aspects. Armenian-Turkish relations, a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, Middle East developments, and so on. All the developments in question are directly related to the aforementioned fundamental issue. And it is most important that our country’s leader thoroughly presented all the facts from the world’s highest rostrum. I am sure that Serzh Sargsyan’s speech should be ranked among his successful speeches. Yesterday we could see a president that has strong positions in the region and can make relevant demands, and has focused on not only the problems facing his own country, but also the developments in the neighboring regions.”Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s statements on the Armenian-Turkish protocols evoked a wide public response. He said official Yerevan is discussing the issue of withdrawing the protocols form the Parliament’s agenda. As to whether it was the Armenian leader’s threat to Turkey, Mr Melik-Shahnazaryan said:“Recent years have only seen regress in Armenia-Turkey relations. I do not think anyone in Yerevan still expects Turkey to ratify the protocols. Official Ankara’s position is clear. So is Yerevan’s. I am sure that a decision on withdrawal of the protocols from the Parliament’s agenda has been made. This game is just supposed to have a beautiful end for the world to make sure which of the sides derailed the rapprochement process.“It is a long period since the agenda of political relations with Turkey went beyond the limits of the protocols signed in Zurich. Now that we are nearing the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, we see Turkey goes on posing a threat to Armenians and to the Republic of Armenia. A few days ago, an Armenian church commemorating the Armenian Genocide victims was blasted in Deir ez-Zor. It is Turkey that is obviously assisting the so-called Islamic State’s activities. I am sure that the idea of blasting the church was suggested by Istanbul. Earlier, Turkey provided its territory to militants for attacking the Armenian-populated town of Kessab. That is, that state does not miss a chance to cause damage to Armenians. Therefore, it is necessary to step up efforts to get the Armenian Genocide internationally recognized and curb Turkey’s aggressive policy. This is the problem President Serzh Sargsyan dealt with at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.”Armenia’s leader severely criticized Azerbaijan as well. As to whether it means the Armenian side has no serious expectations about the negotiation process, Mr Melik-Shahnazaryan said:“President Serzh Sargsyan expertly proved that Turkey and Azerbaijan are coordinating their actions against Armenia. In fact, he addressed his discontent to the international community rather than to Azerbaijan as it is the international community’s indifference on many occasions that has made President Ilham Aliyev think of his own impunity. The Armenian president has often used such high-level venues to make Armenia’s position and demands heard. He did the same at the UN, but, with Azerbaijan’s international reputation considered, in much more favorable conditions for us. Indeed, Aliyev’s regime has discredited itself. Azerbaijan’s authoritarian nature is openly talked about now. Striking evidence thereof is US President Barack Obama’s speech yesterday. And it would be wrong to fail to take advantage of this fact to isolate Azerbaijan’s leadership.“As regards the negotiation process proper, Serzh Sargsyan is consistently shattering the opponent state’s positions. The small-scale war that occurred in late July and early August changes the situation in the negotiation process. Armenian diplomacy is now capitalizing on the battlefield achievements in the negotiations. We saw Serzh Sargsyan scoffing at Ilham Aliyev’s claims that Azerbaijan’s only concession is not resuming hostilities and Azerbaijan allegedly can settle the problem in its favor in a military way at any moment. And it is now time to expose Azerbaijan’s policy of lies. It is important that it was at the UN General Assembly that the Armenian president spoke of the well-known UN resolutions frequently referred to by Ilham Aliyev. Serzh Sargsyan thus showed Armenia had no problems in this respect.“As to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, President Serzh Sargsyan made an all-important statement in New York. He said that the Homeland is holy and no bargain is acceptable to us.“Serzh Sargsyan showed Armenia has its political interests and the Diaspora that champions these interests in Syria and other Middle East countries. Speaking of the tragedy in Syria and Iraq, the Armenian president noted ‘this is an instance of a peril to consider in the context of our joint commitments to preventing the crimes against humanity.’ Considering the fact that the statement was part of the president’s speech on the need for condemning the Armenian Genocide, it is clear that the Armenian president points to Turkey as a factor destabilizing the situation in the Middle East. Moreover, Serzh Sargsyan made it clear that Armenia will struggle against Turkey’s expansionist policy not only in our region, but also in any place Armenians have their interests.” 

President Sargsyan to Ankara: “To hell with your ratification”

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09:36, September 25, 2014

UNITED NATIONS— During his speech at the at the 69th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York yesterday, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan lashed out at Turkey for linking the normalization of the two countries to an Armenian pullout from Artsakh and ceding the second Armenian republic to Azerbaijan.

“Ankara declares publicly that it will ratify those Protocols only if Armenians cede Nagorno-Karabakh—Independent Artsakh–to Azerbaijan. In Armenia and Artsakh ordinary people often just retort to such preconditions: ‘To hell with your ratification,’” said Sargsyan. “This vernacular phrase concentrates the age-old struggle of the entire nation, and it unequivocally explains to those who attempt to bargain the others’ homeland that the motherland is sacrosanct, and they had better stay away from us with their bargain. It is in these circumstances that currently the official Yerevan is seriously considering the issue of recalling the Armenian-Turkish Protocols from the parliament.”

Sarkisian Slams Turkey Over Accords With Armenia

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President Serzh Sarkisian appeared to have renewed on Wednesday his threats to annul the 2009 Turkish-Armenian normalization agreements if Turkey continues to link their parliamentary ratification with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

In a speech at the UN General Assembly in New York, Sarkisian also criticized the Turkish government for refusing to recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire. He said Ankara is sending “ambiguous and ulterior messages in which the victim and the slaughterer are equated and the history falsified.”

“Armenia has never conditioned the normalization of the bilateral relations with Turkey by the recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” said Sarkisian. “In fact, Armenia was the party that initiated such a process which culminated in the signing of the Zurich Protocols in 2009.”

The US Urges to Degrade and Destroy ISIL

September 24, 2014 Armenia, Middle East No Comments
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09:52, September 24, 2014

U.S. Embassy Yerevan joins the government and people of Armenia in strongly condemning the destruction of the Armenian Church in Deir Ez-zor, Syria.

This senseless act of destruction demonstrates yet again the utter disregard the terrorist organization ISIL has for the rich religious and cultural heritage of the Middle East.

As Secretary Kerry has stated, ISIL has systematically committed abuses of human rights and international law and presents a global terrorist threat. Faced with this threat, the United States urges the international community to strengthen our united effort to degrade and destroy ISIL.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Turkey hints at Iraq Mosul hostage exchange

September 23, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hinted that 49 hostages, mostly Turks, may have been freed by Islamic State (IS) as part of a prisoner swap, the BBC reports.They were freed on Saturday, and Hurriyet newspaper reported that 50 IS members were released by Syrian rebel group Liwa al-Tawhid on the same day.Mr Erdogan told reporters: “You might have an exchange but it takes some effort to prepare for such a thing.”The Turkish hostages were seized in northern Iraq and held for 101 days.Turkey is currently struggling to cope with an influx of 138,000 Syrians, most of them Kurds, fleeing an Islamic State offensive in the northern city of Kobane. UN refugee officials have warned that number could surge to 400,000.The government in Ankara had refused to take part in the air campaign against IS, which has now been extended to Syria as well as Iraq, partly because of fears for the safety of the hostages.The hostages were taken prisoner from the Turkish consulate in Mosul in June. They were moved by IS at the start of September to Raqqa in northern Syria, before being released on Saturday at Tel Abyad near the Turkish border.The 49, who included the Turkish consul, diplomats, special forces police, children and three Iraqis, were later greeted by flag-waving crowds in the capital, Ankara.Little explanation was given for their release but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency had led the operation.In its report on Tuesday, Hurriyet said the wife and children of Islamic State leader Haji Bakr, who was killed in Aleppo in February, were among the prisoners freed by Liwa al-Tawhid.The Syrian rebel group split from the military wing of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and helped form the hardline Islamic Front.When asked in New York late on Monday about reports of an exchange for IS prisoners held by Syrian rebels, Mr Erdogan said he would not speak publicly about the work of intelligence agencies but did come close to acknowledging the reports of a prisoner swap.”Some say that maybe there has been an exchange,” he said.”You might have an exchange but it also takes some effort to prepare for such a thing. And efforts have been made and thankfully no harm has been done to any one of the 49 people.”He pointed out that Israel had secured the release of one hostage in return for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, an apparent reference to the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011 after five years in captivity in Gaza.When more than 30 Turkish lorry drivers – who were also seized in Mosul in June – were freed the following month, Turkish authorities also declined to give details of their release. 

Turkish Warplanes Fly In Azerbaijan

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At least a dozen Turkish warplanes and helicopter gunships are carrying out flights in Azerbaijan in second joint Turkish-Azerbaijani military exercises conducted so far this year.

The F-16 fighter jets, C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft and Super Cobra and Black Hawk helicopters reportedly arrived in Azerbaijan on Thursday to take part in what the Defense Ministry in Baku called “large-scale” exercises of its ground forces that ended on Saturday.

A ministry statement released over the weekend claimed that they involved as many as 30,000 Azerbaijani soldiers, hundreds of tanks and artillery systems, dozens of military aircraft and helicopters as well as an unspecified number of Turkish military personnel. It said they practiced “offensive operations in different conditions, including in a mountainous terrain.”

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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.