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Turkish president, PM both nominated for Time’s most influential people list

April 13, 2014 Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan have both been named as candidates for Time magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.Gül and Erdoğan are mentioned in the “world” category.“Widely seen as the alternative to Prime Minister in Turkey’s ruling party, Gül has walked a fine line between party loyalty and counterbalancing Erdoğan’s authoritarian streak,” the magazine said regarding the current president.“Turkey’s authoritarian prime minister overcame antigovernment protests and a corruption scandal to score a huge win in local elections,” it said about Erdoğan.The list includes other names, such as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Egyptian General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.Pope Francis, Bill Gates, Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and activist Malala Yousafzai are also on the world category list.Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. on April 22, and the winner of reader poll will be announced on April 23. The official TIME 100 list will be announced April 24.

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee adopts Armenian Genocide Resolution

April 12, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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For the first time in nearly a quarter century, a U.S. Senate committee on Thursday adopted an Armenian Genocide Resolution, calling upon the Senate to commemorate this crime and encouraging the President to ensure that America’s foreign policy reflects and reinforces the lessons, documented in the U.S. record, of the still-unpunished genocide, reports Asbarez.com, quoting the Armenian National Committee of America.

“Today’s vote affirms America’s commitment to truth, deals a serious setback to Turkey’s campaign of genocide denial, and sends a clear message to President Obama that he must end his Administration’s complicity in Ankara’s cover-up of this crime,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “We thank Chairman Menendez for his powerful leadership and express our thanks to each of the Senators who cast their votes for this human rights measure.”

U.S. continues to urge Armenia, Turkey to work together to achieve “acknowledgement of facts”

April 11, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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The United States continues to urge Armenia and Turkey “to work together to achieve a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts”, said U.S. Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki during a daily press briefing in Washington, DC, on Thursday.

Psaki made the statement in answering a question from a reporter asking for an updated on the 2009 Turkish-Armenian protocols and on how the normalization process between the two estranged neighboring nations is going on.

U.S. Senate Panel Praised By Armenia, Condemned By Turkey

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U.S. — Senators listen before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on a resolution on Syria on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 4, 2013

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Turkey on Friday condemned the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee for approving a resolution that acknowledges the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire and said it could harm Turkish-American relations.

Yerevan welcomes U.S. Senate Committee Resolution on Armenian Genocide

April 11, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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Armenia welcomes the adoption of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee 410 Resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a statement released on Friday.

“We commend the principled stance of the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez and other members of the Committee who supported the resolution,” said the top Armenian diplomat, according to the Foreign Ministry’s official website.

“On the eve of the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide the adoption by the Senate Committee of Resolution 410 is an important step on the way to restoration of historical truth and prevention of crimes against humanity,” Nalbandian added.

U.S. Senate Committee Approves Armenian Genocide Bill

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A key committee of the U.S. Senate approved late on Thursday a resolution that describes the 1915 Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey as genocide and urges President Barack Obama to do the same.
 
The resolution passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says the World War One-era extermination of some 1.5 million Armenians and forcible displacement of 500,000 others resulted in “the elimination of the over 2,500-year presence of Armenians in their historic homeland.”
 
It also says that Obama should ensure that U.S. foreign policy “reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide.”
 
The Senate committee approved the resolution by a vote of 12 to 5 two weeks before the annual commemoration of the genocide in Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora. Sources in the Armenian Assembly of America said it was backed by all Democratic members of the panel as well as some Republicans, notably Senator John McCain. The latter has opposed such measures in the past.
 
The genocide bill, which is bound to be denounced by Turkey, was drafted by the committee’s pro-Armenian chairman, Democrat Robert Menendez, and Republican Senator Mark Kirk. Prospects for its passage by the full Senate are not yet clear.

“We applaud the leadership of Chairman Menendez,” said Bryan Ardouny, the Armenian Assembly’s executive directive who was on hand when the resolution was adopted. “Today’s vote reaffirms America’s commitment to genocide awareness and prevention,” added Ardouny.

Armenian Assembly Calls on U.S. to Allocate $40 Million to Armenia and to Safeguard Kesab Armenians

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13:15, April 10, 2014

Last week, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations and Related Programs on the proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 U.S. budget, reported the Assembly. Also last week, the Assembly reported that the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, led by Co-Chairs Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), sent a letter to Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) highlighting U.S. foreign aid priorities for Armenia and Artsakh.

ECHR finds Turkey guilty over lengthy detention

April 9, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found Turkey guilty in another case about the length of a pre-trial detention, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.The ECHR ruled that Turkey breached both the right to liberty and security and the right to a fair trial.Ziya and Mehmet Ergezen, a father and a son, were detained in 2005 after several kilos of explosives were seized in a search at their home. The following year they were sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for membership of an illegal organization (the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK) and possession of explosives.After the judgment was quashed in June 2007, the court ordered for the applicants to be held in pre-trial detention until November 2007, when it upheld their conviction on the same terms.In February 2009 the Court of Cassation again quashed the judgment of the Assize Court, which ordered the applicants to be kept in pre-trial detention, until September 2010, when Ziya Ergezen was released on the grounds that he was suffering from cancer and unlikely to survive. Ziya Ergezen died later that year.The following month, the criminal proceedings against him were interrupted on grounds of his death and his son was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. Taking account of the length of the latter’s pre-trial detention, the Assize Court released him.An appeal against that judgment was dismissed by the Court of Cassation in December 2010.In the end, the ECHR ruled that Turkey must pay 4,000 euros to Mehmet Ergezen and 4,300 euros jointly to the heirs of Ziya Ergezen.
 

Director of “Grandma’s Tattoos”: ‘Loving Armenia Must Be a Two-Way Street’

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12:33, April 8, 2014

Suzanne Khardalian talks about her experiences during the shooting of the film, Armenian identity and the plight of Middle East Armenian communities

Suzanne Khardalian is a film director probably best known to Armenians for her 2011 documentary “Grandma’s Tattoos”.

Born in Lebanon and now living in Sweden, Khardalian has also directed other films on the Armenian Genocide including “Back to Ararat” (1988) and “I hate dogs”  (2005). She has a Masters from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

I recently spoke to Khardalian about the Armenian Genocide, the making of “Grandma’s Tattoos”, and recent events in the Middle East.

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CNN International Explores the Secrets of Armenia’s Stone Henge

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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.

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10:24, March 14, 2014

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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

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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

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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

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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.