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Opposition Group Cuts Gyumri Trip Short Amid ‘Provocation’ Fears

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Activists of a radical opposition movement seeking regime change in Armenia cut their trip short and cancelled their planned “automobile march” and rally in the country’s second largest city on Saturday as they claimed to possess information about local authorities’ planning provocations against them.

A motorcade of several dozen cars carrying members of Founding Parliament, a group campaigning for a decisive anti-government push on April 24, the day when the centennial of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey will be commemorated, decided to return to Yerevan from the outskirts of Gyumri where a group of youngsters had reportedly blocked off the main roads leading to the city.

Nalbandian Shuns Israeli FM On Jerusalem Trip

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Underscoring Armenia’s uneasy relationship with Israel, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian has not met with his Israeli counterpart or any other member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government during a rare visit to Jerusalem.

Nalbandian held talks instead with Israel’s largely ceremonial President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday during what the Armenian Foreign Ministry described as a one-day “working visit.” He also attended a concert by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

Ministry statements on the trip did not explain why Nalbandian failed to meet with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and other Israeli cabinet members. The ministry spokesman, Tigran Balayan, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Europe’s Center-Right Urges Turkish Recognition Of Armenian Genocide

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An alliance of Europe’s leading center-right parties has urged Turkey to recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire and “make restitution” to descendants of its 1.5 million victims.

The European People’s Party (EPP) also called on the European Union to “officially commemorate April 24 as a day to remember and condemn the Armenian Genocide.”

“The European People’s Party reaffirms its recognition and condemnation of the Genocide and Great National Dispossession of the Armenian people on the eve of its 100th Anniversary on 24 April 2015,” reads a resolution adopted by the EPP’s governing Political Assembly on Tuesday.

“We commemorate one-and-a-half million innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and bow in gratitude to those martyred and surviving heroes who struggled for their lives and human dignity,” it says.

“The Seat Is Sweet”: What’s Holding Up Elections for a New Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople?

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10:55, March 2, 2015

The Armenian community of Istanbul believes there is only one reason why elections to appoint a new Patriarch Of Constantinople haven’t been held—Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, the acting Patriarch, does not want them to be.

“There are a thousand other little reasons why but the biggest reason is that Archbishop Aram does not want elections to be held,” businessman Dikran Altun, a member of the Armenian community of Istanbul, told Hetq. “At one time he wanted them to be held, thinking that he would get elected. But then he realized that he wouldn’t be elected, which is why he is resistant.”

Azeri, Turkish Warplanes Hold Joint Drills

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The Turkish and Azerbaijani air forces began fresh joint exercises at an airfield in central Turkey on Tuesday, highlighting close military ties between Ankara and Baku.

News reports said their warplanes, including three Azerbaijani MiG-29 fighter jets and three Su-25 attack aircraft, as well as combat helicopters will practice joint operations for the next five weeks.

The Turkish news agency Anatolia said the purpose of the exercises is to “prepare common operation plans and mutual command structures.” It quoted the commander of the Azerbaijani airmen participating in the drills as calling them historic. An Azerbaijani Defense Ministry statement cited by the APA news agency said they stem from a “cooperation plan” for 2015 agreed by the Turkish and Azerbaijani militaries.

Ter-Petrosian Reticent On Political Future

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Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian declined to shed light on his further political activities at the weekend as he rallied supporters in Yerevan for the first time since the dramatic collapse of his alliance with Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK).

Ter-Petrosian declared instead that his Armenian National Congress (HAK) has become the sole genuine opposition force in the country after a harsh government crackdown effectively drove Tsarukian out of politics.

“While understanding your natural expectation, I will refrain for now from discussing those issues (the HAK’s further actions) because the events are so fresh that they require long deliberations and a thorough analysis,” he told a smaller-than-usual crowd that gathered in Liberty Square to mark the 7th anniversary of the 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan.

Baghdad-Yerevan-Erbil: A Commercial or Political Route?

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19:52, February 26, 2015

Today marked the inaugural flight linking Yerevan with Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Armenia’s General Civil Aviation Department reports that the Iraqi Airways flight, linking Baghdad and Yerevan with a quick stopover in Erbil, will operate every Thursday and Sunday commencing March 5.

As announced, Flight IAW 481 will depart from Baghdad and will land at Yerevan’s Zvartnots International Airport at 1pm. At 2pm, Flight IAW 484 will leave Yerevan for Erbil. At 5pm, Flight IAW 483 will return to Yerevan and will leave for Baghdad at 6pm.

The new route, to be operated by Iraqi Airways, the country’s national carrier established in 1945, will be serviced by planes in the Canadian made Bombadier CRJ900 and American Boeing 737 class. Iraqi Airways now has five CRJ900 and twelve Boeing 737 planes in its fleet.

Sex Ed a Taboo in Armenia: If Taught at All, It’s by Phys Ed Teachers, Some 80 Years Old

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15:45, February 27, 2015

By Karine Aghajanyan 

Sex Ed is the process of educating people about sex, but in Armenia it is not as simple as that.

There is a lack of sex education structure. Both society and government do not think it is an essential part of civilized society. Thus, I wanted to understand where the shame and silence surrounding it comes from.

Traditionally, adolescents in many cultures were not given any information on sexual matters since discussions of these issues have been considered taboo. Given that Armenian culture and society are very conservative, this is a huge taboo surrounded by fear and misconceptions.

Armenia: My Illusion

February 27, 2015 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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13:14, February 27, 2015

By Meltem Naz Kaşo

A week after a three-month stay in Armenia, I am once again at home in my green room in Istanbul, Turkey.

“Men must live and create. Live to the point of tears,” a quote from Albert Camus, is written on my wall. To me, Armenia seems like an illusion now. An illusion I lived and created to the point of tears.

For a Turk, going to Armenia seems a crazy idea. It’s not like going anywhere else with a Turkish passport.

I was selected by the Hrant Dink Foundation to be a research fellow in a Yerevan-based NGO, to contribute to cross-border understanding. Just as Turkey has racists, Armenia has its own.

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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.

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.