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Another Turkish Envoy Recalled Over Armenian Genocide Recognition

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Turkey has condemned Brazil’s Senate for recognizing the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire and recalled its ambassador to the Latin American country for consultations in protest.

In a statement released on Monday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry described a corresponding resolution adopted by Brazil’s upper house of parliament last week as “an example of irresponsibility.”

“Political decisions of this nature, taken under the influence of the Armenian lobbies can neither change the historical facts nor the legal norms,” said the statement.

It said Turkish officials conveyed this message to the Brazilian ambassador to Turkey when he was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Ankara on June 3. “Turkish Ambassador in Brasilia, Mr. Huseyin Dirioz has also been recalled to Ankara for consultations,” added the statement.

“Affliction of the Patriarch”: Aret Gıcır Explores Existentialist Dilemmas of Armenians in Turkey

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10:35, June 5, 2015

Istanbul-Armenian artist Aret Gıcır has completed his twenty canvas Affliction of the Patriarch project that will be exhibited this fall at the Biennale in Istanbul.

The 36 year-old artist started the project six years ago when, after returning from Armenia, he found out that Constantinople Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan II was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

“The Patriarch’s physical frailty underscores the symbolic end of a century of deterioration, during which the patriarchate had its significance stripped as a social institution and was wrested from the historical heritage and people that it represented, says Aret. “In the series of paintings the patriarch, who is neither dead nor alive, has become the poignant symbol of the deepest existentialist dilemmas of the Armenians remaining in Turkey and, in general, of the reality of the post-Ottoman era.

U.S. Critical Of Erdogan Tirade Against Armenians

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The U.S. State Department has criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for branding Armenians as well as independent media and religious and sexual minorities as “representatives of sedition” in Turkey.

Erdogan launched the broadside at “the Armenian lobby, homosexuals and those who believe in Alevism without Ali” during an election campaign rally on Wednesday. He said they are secretly helping a pro-Kurdish party to prevent his AK Party from scoring a landslide victory in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

Erdogan had earlier voiced similar allegations against Turkish media critical of his government and international media organizations such “The New York Times,” the BBC and CNN.

Turkey’s Erdogan Slams ‘Armenian Lobby’ On Campaign Trail

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused “the Armenian lobby” of conspiring with his political opponents to deny his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) a landslide victory in Turkey’s upcoming parliamentary elections.

Erdogan’s hopes to extend the AKP’s 12-year rule and gain even more sweeping powers through constitutional changes could be dashed by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Sunday’s elections. Observers say that the AKP party may well lose its parliamentary majority if the HDP clears a 10 percent vote threshold for being represented in Turkey’s parliament.

Erdogan has increasingly attacked the HDP on the campaign trail in recent weeks. He has accused Western and Turkish media critical of his government, other domestic critics as well as unnamed Armenian groups of helping the progressive Kurdish movement make a strong showing in the polls.

Yerevan Rules Out Change In Karabakh Mediation

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The Armenian government on Thursday reaffirmed its strong objections to continuing Azerbaijani efforts to have more foreign powers act as mediators in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks on Nagorno-Karabakh.

Visiting Yerevan on Wednesday Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, who is also the chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said Azerbaijan is trying to increase the number of countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group.

According to Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian, Baku specifically wants Turkey and Germany to join the United States, Russia and France as Minsk Group co-chairs. “That has always been Azerbaijan’s dream,” Kocharian told reporters.

“Its real aim is not Germany but Turkey, which is totally identical with Azerbaijan [on the Karabakh issue,]” he said. “Naturally, the Armenian side is against that.”

Brazil Senate Recognizes Armenian Genocide

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Brazil’s upper house of parliament, the Federal Senate, has joined 23 countries around the world in officially recognizing the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

The Brazilian Senate described the slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians as genocide in a “motion of solidarity with the Armenian people” that was approved by 55 of its 81 members on Tuesday.

The resolution pays tribute to the victims and praises descendants of the genocide survivors who had taken refuge in Brazil for their “economic, social and cultural” contributions to Latin America’s largest nation. Brazil is now home to more than 40,000 ethnic Armenians.

Syrian-Armenians: A Return They Never Predicted

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12:18, June 3, 2015

“If things get better in terms of work, we won’t even think about returning to Syria, because Syria after the war won’t be the same as before. It lost its security and all its other good points. The best thing we had in Syria was security. I don’t believe that security will return.”

In the words of Maria Basmadjian, who came to Armenia in January 2013, there are already “godless, fearless” extremists in Syria who are not at all like her former Muslim neighbors.

Azerbaijan’s Administration Calls OCCRP Story ‘Black PR’

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23:17, May 29, 2015

A representative of Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev has responded to OCCRP’s latest investigation, calling it a part of a “black public relations” campaign against the oil-rich Caucasus nation.

On Wednesday, OCCRP in conjunction with Joachim Dyfvermark of Swedish Television and Ola Westerberg of the Swedish News Agency released a report describing how Swedish-Finnish telecoms giant TeliaSonera abetted a massive business deal that may have drained as much as US$ 1 billion from Azerbaijan’s treasury.

The money tied up the deal then disappeared into a maze of offshore companies linked to President Aliyev.

Dashnaktsutyun ‘Not Offered’ To Rejoin Government

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The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) is ready, in principle, to eventually rejoin Armenia’s government but has not yet received such an offer from President Serzh Sarkisian, a leader of the opposition party said on Friday.

Artsvik Minasian acknowledged that Dashnaktsutyun maintains regular contacts with Sarkisian on a range of pressing issues, including the economy, national security and constitutional reform. “We periodically hold discussions with the head of state, the prime minister and some ministers,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Asked whether the influential party is now prepared to take up ministerial posts in Sarkisian’s government as a junior coalition partner, Minasian said, “Let’s just forget about the word coalition in this case because we are talking about joint efforts. If there is a situation where we see, as a result of discussions, that we can be of use and solve issues with joint responsibility, we won’t exclude that option.”

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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.