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Banjos and Bayonets: The Tale of a Holocaust Survivor

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14:57, November 17, 2014

By Arthur Hagopian

From the Red Desert to Jerusalem – The Odyssey ofElia Kahvedjian

Elia Kahvedjian’s adept fingers could tease the strings of his banjo and mandolin into seductive dances and renditions, just as skillfully and felicitously as they could coax his treasuredHasselblad and Leica into turning out irresistible photographic compositions.

A legend in his time, the mild-mannered Armenian photographer of Jerusalem, survived a horrendous ordeal of starvation, torture and genocide, and a run in with nefarious cannibals, by dint of sheer guts, determination and luck, to leave an indelible imprint on the cultural history of the Holy City.

Turkey behind any plots to provoke new war in South Caucasus – Artashes Geghamyan

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In an interview with Tert.am, Head of the Armenian delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Artashes Geghamyan commented on the statements by Thomas de Waal, Senior Associate, Russia and Eurasia Program, Carnegie Endowment, and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.According to Mr Thomas de Waal, the “incidents are an illustration of the increased militarization of the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire line over the last 20 years – the most militarized zone in Europe.”On the other hand, Armenia’s president stated that no war was going to break out.Even if any plans to provoke war in the region are being devised, it is certainly being done by Turkey because it is seeking to destabilize the South Caucasus to divert the international community’s attention from the activities of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant along the border of Turkey, Syria and Iraq.“Mr Thomas de Waal must have certain grounds for his conclusions. He studied at Oxford and later wrote a most interesting paper, Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War, which showed a more or less impartial approach. He has more contacts with Western experts and, as Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment, must have arrived at this conclusion. It is suggested that such plans may be devised, but President Serzh Sargsyan’s statement ruling our war in the region is based on much more reliable data. We should not forget the detailed talks over the problem between the Russian and Azerbaijani Presidents, Vladimir Putin Ilham Aliyev, in Sochi, between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Ilham Aliyev in Newport, Wales, and between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in Paris, mediated by French President François Hollande. In other words, the last two months and a half have seen talks between the Armenian and Azerbaijan presidents and the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing states. Moreover, following the Paris meeting our FM Edward Nalbandian noted positive aspects of the meetings. Therefore, the Armenian president stated (doing so during large-scale military exercises in Nagorno-Karabakh) there was no threat of war. I think that one of the reasons for Serzh Sargsyan’s statement is the fact that by unleashing war after the Minsk Group co-chairing states’ leaders reached certain agreements Azerbaijan would show its disrespect for the Russian president, the US Secretary of State and the French president. Another question is that our supreme commander-in-chief’s statement foiled the plots to destabilize the South Caucasus devised by Azerbaijani and Turkish strategists. Azerbaijan wanted Armenia to retaliate in such a way as to neutralize the extremely negative reaction to Azerbaijan’s act – downing a Nagorno-Karabakh MI-24 helicopter, which had not actually reached the Line of Contact. This is evidence that, even after Azerbaijan resorted to such a provocation, that their plot was foiled, and that country is in an unfavorable situation now. It is clear that Azerbaijan is well aware it cannot any more avoid honoring the agreements reached during the last two months and a half at the meetings with the Minsk Group co-chairing states’ leaders.As supreme commander-in-chief, President Serzh Sargsyan is well informed of the military potential and morale in the armed forces of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. A man who saw war, a victorious commander and hero of Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh] will never say anything absurd about such a serious matter. Moreover, by his statement he re-affirmed Armenia’s commitment to the agreements reached in Sochi, Newport and Paris. 

Nigol Bezjian’s Ceaseless Search for Truth and Discovery — An Interview

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17:52, November 14, 2014

By Christian Garbis

Filmmaker Nigol Bezjian is a master storyteller who conveys pathos and lust for life, introspection and emotional extremes of joy and sorrow in one sweep.

Born in Aleppo, Syria in 1955, Bezjian immigrated with his family to Boston in 1974. He earned a BFA in Cinema Studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and then further pursued his passion for filmmaking at the UCLA School of Film, Theatre and Television where he graduated with a MFA in Film Producing, Writing and Directing. 

France ‘Working’ On New Armenian Genocide Bill

November 12, 2014 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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France’s President Francois Hollande has instructed his government to draft a new law that would make it a crime to deny the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey, a senior French diplomat said on Wednesday.

“In accordance with the president’s instruction, the French government … is working on the new bill that would address objections made by the Constitutional Council,” Jean-Francois Charpentier, the new French ambassador to Armenia, told a news conference.

Charpentier said the bill is being drafted by the French Ministry of Justice. But he could not say when it will be approved by the government and sent to the French parliament.

Turkey’s steps constrain US chances to recognize Genocide – opinion

November 11, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Karabakh, Turkey No Comments
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In an interview with Tert.am, a Diaspora-Armenian writer, publicist and veteran of the Nagorno-Karabakh war said he doesn’t expect the United States to take any positive steps in relation to the Armenian Genocide recognition ahead of the big tragedy’s centennial.
Sargis Hatspanyan said he feels that the country is now in a state of constraint due to Turkey’s policies.
“The United States has an administration whose activities are above any executive, legislative or other body. The US has been, of course, traditionally pursuing that trend after [President] Woodrow Wilson and is the number one rear of the administrative territory called the Republic of Turkey. I have even had a lecture on the topic and said that anyone looking at the map of Turkey’s military bases will never raise such a question. And whenever the United States raises a question concerning the Armenians or the Armenian Cause, Turkey immediately points out to that map to say, ‘You are here, aren’t you? So you will think well before addressing this question, otherwise you may not have all this.’ Hence the United States is from head to food in a trap due to the geopolitical, military and economic activities of Turkey,” he explained.

Armenian, Karabakh Armies Continue Joint Drills

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The armed forces of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh practiced joint military operations for a fifth consecutive day on Monday in exercises which they said are involving tens of thousands of soldiers and hundreds of tanks.

The drills are apparently taking place near the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” east of Karabakh. The Defense Ministry in Yerevan said they are led by Bako Sahakian, the president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and “coordinated” by the the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, General Yuri Khachaturov.

A ministry statement said the “large-scale operational-tactical exercises” are involving 17,000 Armenian soldiers, 250 tanks and armored personnel carriers and 550 artillery systems.

“The Many Truths of the Middle East” Talk to Feature Harout Ekmanian

November 8, 2014 Armenia, Middle East, Turkey No Comments
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11:51, November 8, 2014

Harout Ekmanian, a Syrian-Armenian journalist, will be the guest of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies at a lunchtime conversation to be held on Wednesday, November 12, 2014, at noon at the Tutor Campus Center (TCC) 450 Forum, on campus.

Entitled “The Many Truths of the Middle East,” Harout will speak about the difficult task facing anyone studying the modern Middle East, at any time, and especially now, as violence rages across borders and among communities who have forged bonds and lived together in the same state for decades or centuries. USC Professor Sandy Tolan, a journalist who teaches at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, will be guiding the discussion.

Turkey to intensify Armenian Genocide denial policy as 2015 nears – expert

November 8, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is inferior to Turkish Premier Ahmet Davutoğlu in the political and many other respects, expert in Turkic studies Ruben Melkonyan told Tert.am as he commented on Mr Çavuşoğlu’s statement ruling out Turkey’s admission of the Armenian Genocide.“Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s appointment made it clear that more instances of uncivilized behavior will mark Turkey’s foreign policy. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is inferior to Turkish Premier Ahmet Davutoğlu in the political and many other respects. His strong-worded statement was no mere coincidence, which once again proves Turkey is too far from panhuman and European values and there is no room for it in the European family,” Mr Melkonyan said.The policy of denial is a key component of Turkey’s policy.“Turkey’s ruling elite is denying the crime of Genocide, and this policy will certainly become more aggressive as the centennial of the Armenian Genocide is nearing. As the year 2015 nears, Turkey’s ruling elite will intensify its attempts by making similar statements,” the expert said. 

Fresh Armenian Budget Allocations To Russian Military Spark Debate

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The latest decision by the Armenian government to pay for more expenses of a local Russian military base has fueled the ongoing debate about whether the host country should make such payments.

On Thursday the Cabinet approved a fresh allocation of 20.5 million drams (about $50,000) to the National Security Service (NSS) that would spend the money to cover expenses of the Russian military base stationed in Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri.

Such allocations from the Armenian state budget are made quarterly. NSS head Gorik Hakobian said that in the second quarter of 2014 about the same amount of money was provided to the Russian border troops in Armenia to cover their military transportation expenses.

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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.