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U.S. ‘Cares Deeply’ About Its Partnership With Armenia

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America cares deeply about its partnership with Armenia, Victoria Nuland, the United States Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, said in Yerevan on Wednesday on the third leg of her South Caucasus tour that also included stops in Azerbaijan and Georgia.

“We have for more than 20 years supported democracy, independence, economic growth, prosperity and peace here. And we want to continue to do that and to deepen and broaden that relationship,” the senior U.S. diplomat added.

“We care deeply about Armenia’s ability to grow stronger, more prosperous, more independent, and to represent a strong democratic image in this part of the world and to protect the rights of all Armenians to live freely. So, it’s important to us.”

Turkey Says Armenian Step To Withdraw Protocols ‘Wrong And Unfortunate’

February 18, 2015 Armenia, Diaspora, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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Ankara will remain committed to protocols signed between Turkey and Armenia aiming to normalize bilateral relations, a Turkish Foreign Ministry representative has said after Yerevan recently decided to withdraw the 2009 protocols from the Armenian Parliament.

In a statement issued on February 16, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said he had asked Parliament Speaker Galust Sahakian to send the protocols on the normalization of ties and the establishment of diplomatic relations with neighboring Turkey back to him since “the Turkish government has no political will, distorts the spirit and letter of the protocols, and continues its policy of setting preconditions.”

Sarkisian also said that on the eve of commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey during World War I, “the policy of denial and rewriting history” is getting a renewed impulse in Ankara.

Armenia’s Official Position on 1915 Genocide: Ter-Petrosyan Calls For Face to Face Meeting with Sargsyan

February 17, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Asia, Karabakh, Turkey No Comments
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15:00, February 17, 2015

Levon Ter-Petrosyan has called for a one on one meeting with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan to personally convey his concerns regarding the recently issued Pan-Armenian Proclamation on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

The proclamation was drafted by a state commemorative organizing committee and Ter-Petrosyan argues that the body has overstepped its authority by claiming that it speaks for the “united will” of all Armenians.

Armenia’s first president also argues that given that the proclamation was addressed to the international community it would have been imbued with greater gravitas and legal-political significance had it been signed by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and church ;eaders rather than some faceless committee.

Amenian President Recalls Armenia-Turkey Protocols

February 16, 2015 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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17:24, February 16, 2015

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has today petitioned the Speaker of the National Assembly Galust Sahakyan, about his decision to recall the Armenian-Turkish Protocols from the National Assembly, this according to Public Radio Armenia. The letter reads, in part:

“Respected Mr. Sahakyan,

When launching the process of normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations without preconditions, we were fully aware of all possible scenarios of future development. We were ready for both comprehensive normalization of relations through ratification of the protocols and their failure. We had nothing to conceal, as it would become clear to the world which party was guilty of missing the chance to open the last closed border in Europe.

Armenian President Withdraws Protocols On Relations With Turkey

February 16, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has recalled from parliament protocols on the normalization of ties and the establishment of diplomatic relations with neighboring Turkey.

In a statement issued on Monday, Sarkisian said he had asked Parliament Speaker Galust Sahakian to return the protocol to him since “the Turkish government has no political will, distorts the spirit and letter of the protocols, and continues its policy of setting preconditions.”

Sarkisian also said that on the eve of commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey during World War I, “the policy of denial and rewriting history” is getting a renewed impulse in Ankara.

Relations between Turkey and Armenia have been strained for years over their differing accounts of mass killings of Armenians.

Armenia’s Football Team Rises 5 Spots to 74th Worldwide

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10:02, February 13, 2015

Armenia’s football team has risen five spots, to 74th place, in the latest FIFA rankings of 209 national squads.

The improvement has been the result of the failures of other teams since the previous world rankings were released last month. Since then the Asia and African Football Cups have been played, leading to changes in the rankings.

The list of the top ten teams remains unchanged: Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Holland, Brazil, Portugal, France, Uruguay and Spain.

In the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers for Group I, Denmark leads with 7 points, followed by Portugal (6), Albania (4), and Serbia and Armenia (1 apiece).

Denmark is now 28th in the world; Serbia 39th; and Albania 63rd.

Latin American Cocaine Smugglers Busted in Yerevan: Drugs Were Headed to Turkey

February 12, 2015 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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15:25, February 12, 2015

Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) says it has uncovered a Latin American drug ring attempting to smuggle cocaine to Turkey via Armenia.

The NSS says that the drugs were hidden in cargo flights from Latin America to Armenia and then picked up by Bulgarian and Lebanese agents who would then send the drugs, via air and land, across the border into Turkey.

The NSS claims it intercepted 2.7 kilos of cocaine on January 27 on a cargo flight from San Paolo to Yerevan, via Abu Dhabi and 2.6 kilos on February 9 on the same flight.

Ter-Petrosian Blasts Armenian Genocide Declaration

February 12, 2015 Armenia, Diaspora, Top News, Turkey No Comments

Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian on Wednesday strongly criticized President Serzh Sarkisian and leaders of Armenian Diaspora organizations for urging Turkey to recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

Ter-Petrosian also claimed that their “pan-Armenian declaration” issued late last month commits official Yerevan to laying claim to vast swathes of land in eastern Turkey that were populated by Armenians until the genocide.

The declaration was adopted by a high-level commission planning and coordinating upcoming commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the tragedy. The commission is headed by Sarkisian and comprises other senior Armenian state officials, the top clerics of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Diaspora leaders. Sarkisian personally read out the declaration at the genocide memorial in Yerevan on January 29.

Broken Dreams: Family Flees War in Iraq Kurdistan for the Diaspora, Not Armenia

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12:58, February 10, 2015

“When it was snowing, my son went out to play. But it was cold and I’m called him to come home. Armenia is our father. So why doesn’t he call us inside?”

The above rhetorical question is posed by Movses Sarkisian, who left Iraqi Kurdistan for Istanbul.

Movses says that his cousin returned to Erbil after staying in Armenia for four years. He told Movses that in Armenia they called him a foreigner and a gharib (stranger) who had grown up among Turks.

People in Armenia are tired. Young people are looking for work in Europe. Everyone is leaving Armenia. Only the women and girls are left,” Movses says with a sigh. “We also felt like outsiders in Iraq. I am angry at Armenia. Why didn’t they take us in? Why didn’t they leave us outside for so long?”

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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.