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Three workers die in construction accident at viaduct connecting to Istanbul’s third bridge

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Three workers were killed and another injured late April 5 while working on a viaduct as part of a highway that will connect to Istanbul’s controversial third bridge.The three workers fell from a height of 50 meters when part of the concrete on the viaduct, located on the Asian side of the city, collapsed during construction.
Eleven other workers who were stuck on the viaduct after the collapse were rescued by a crane.
Two of the victims, Yaşar Bulut, 50, and Ltf Bulut, 48, as well as one of the injured, Sonay Bulut, 42, were brothers. The other victim, Kahraman Baltaoğlu, had only been working on the construction site for two days, the company said.
The accident is yet another example of the dramatic lack of protection for workers and Turkey’s failure to comply with labor regulations. It is the first deadly accident on the Istanbul’s third bridge project, which has been touted by the government as a major showcase of the country’s economic status.
The construction of Istanbul’s third bridge is continuing despite controversy, after a ruling for a stay of execution due to an unsatisfying environmental impact assessment report (ED) was recently overturned.
The new highway will also connect to the third airport, which will be built on the city’s European side at the expense of a huge forested area.
The name of the bridge, Yavuz Sultan Selim, has also attracted the opprobrium of Alevis, as the 16th-century Ottoman sultan was known to be a mass murderer of their forbears.

Kessab, Shoushi…Same Struggle?

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10:49, April 5, 2014

Haytoug Shamlian

The fall of the city of Kessab, at the edges of current Syria or of our Cilicia (it is a matter of point of view), put all Armenians in a state of shock, all around the world.

Considering the lack of sufficient – or sufficiently trustworthy – information, it pointless to try to understand what is really going on over there right now.

There is however one certainty : at the moment when these lines are being written, the city is still in the hands of jihadists, who rushed there from various countries, and who are benefitting from the immediate support of Turkey in this spectacular operation.

Turkey faces NATO, Russia pressure over Black Sea

April 5, 2014 Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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Although the crisis between NATO and Russia over Ukraine is not on Turkey’s immediate agenda, the likely developments have the potential to drag the Turkish government into the row.And the likely theater of such political confrontation is the Black Sea, reports the Hurriyet Daily News.
The sign of it was given by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on April 2. He expressed Russia’s concerns about the US presence in the Black Sea in a way to violate the 1936 Montreux Convention that regulates the passage of military vessels of non-literal countries through the straits. “We have noticed that recently US military vessels on a number of occasions have extended their presence beyond the established limits and these extensions at times failed to meet the rules of the Montreux Convention,” he said.
Due to the sensitivity of the issue, Turkey immediately denied Lavrov’s claims in a written statement, underlining that Turkey had been implementing the Montreux Convention meticulously over the last 78 years. Since the eruption of the Crimean crisis, the United States has increased its military presence in the Black Sea, sending its vessels to the Black Sea within the convention rules. A guided-missile destroyer, Truxtun, has just left the Black Sea after concluding a joint naval exercise with Romanian and Bulgarian naval forces just a few hundred kilometers away from the Crimean peninsula. There are reports that the USS Donald Cook, a guided missile destroyer, will soon be sent to the region.The Montreux Convention is regarded as one of Turkey’s most important achievements in its recent political history and played a major role in keeping theBlack Sea region out of the NATO-Warsaw Pact confrontation throughout the Cold War era. But things have changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, especially with Bulgaria and Romania’s entrance into NATO.

First Kessab Refugees Arrive In Armenia


The first two residents of Kessab have taken refuge in Armenia and many others are said to be willing to do the same nearly two weeks after the historically Armenian-populated town in Syria was seized by Islamist rebels.

Twitter set to be opened in Turkey after long wait

April 3, 2014 Armenia, Turkey, Video No Comments
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Turkey seemed set to finally unblock Twitter on April 3, a full 24 hours after the Constitutional Court ruled that the ban was a violation of free speech.The Constitutional Court unanimously ruled April 2 that the ban was a violation of free speech guaranteed by Article 26 of the Constitution, following individual complaints filed separately by Professor Dr. Kerem Altıparmak, Professor Yaman Akdeniz and Sezgin Tanrıkulu, deputy chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).Tanrıkulu applied to Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) for the opening of the website on April 2, but the government only began to move to open the micro-blogging site yesterday evening.TİB blocked access to Twitter last month, just 10 days before the local elections. Hours before the ruling, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan said he was “defying the international community” and would “shut down Twitter.” Before the elections, dozens of leaked phone conversations depicting state officials engaged in alleged graft were loaded onto the video-sharing website YouTube and shared on Twitter. YouTube was also blocked by the government as a result.Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu appeared to endorse the ruling, saying, “Court orders need to be respected everywhere across the world.”However, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy chair Mustafa Şentop spoke to CNNTürk earlier yesterday and said the Constitutional Court ruling was “full of contradictions.”Arguing that Turkish authorities had to adopt a general block on Twitter because they were technically not able to block certain URLs, Şentop defended the ban as the state’s “constitutional duty to protect its citizens.”Şentop took it further, saying the website could only be opened for the three complainants, Altıparmak, Akdeniz and Tanrıkulu.“The applications to the Constitutional Court were individually filed. Hence, the court responded to these three people. This is not a general decision. Of course, the court ruling must be implemented, but how can that be, if the court issues a general ruling after individual complaints? We should debate it,” Şentop said, suggesting a reasoned decision was needed.

Armenian FM appeals to UN for action on Kessab crisis

April 3, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian has addressed a letter to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, urging action on the humanitarian crisis in Kessab, Syria, following attacks by al-Qaeda-linked forces on the Armenian town.

Armenia expresses grave concern for the Armenian inhabitants of Kessab and the surrounding 12 villages, Foreign Minister Nalbandian wrote in his letter.

“All the available evidence and geographic location of Kessab, beyond reasonable doubt suggest that the late attacks were carried out by Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups across the border from the territory of neighboring Turkey,” Nalbandian stressed.
“The brutal actions, which targeted largely the civilian population, resulted in the forced displacement of the local population.

The Letter of Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

April 2, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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18:06, April 2, 2014

Armenia expresses its grave concern over the recent escalation of the situation in North-Western Syria, around the ancient town of Kessab and surrounding twelve villages predominantly populated by Armenians. All the available evidence and geographic location of Kessab, beyond reasonable doubt suggest that the late attacks were carried out by Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups across the border from the territory of neighboring Turkey. The brutal actions, which targeted largely the civilian population, resulted in the forced displacement of local population. The extremist groups have desecrated Kessab’s Armenian churches, caused significant damage to the property of the inhabitants, registering a dark picture of egregious violations of human rights. There are only a few elderly people staying in the town who were not able to leave.. Those deplorable attacks greatly undermine the implementation of unanimously adopted UNSC Resolutions 2139 and 2118, aimed at paving ways for the settlement of the Syrian crisis.

Denial is continuation of genocide, Armenian FM tells int’l conference

April 2, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian on Tuesday participated in the Responsibility to Protect Conference on the prevention of genocides. The conference was held in Brussels by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide.

“It is almost a hundred years that not only the Armenians, but also the international community have expected Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide. The 100th anniversary of that tragedy will be marked next year. As the people who suffered the first genocide of the 20th century, we have great moral responsibility to make our contribution to the international community’s efforts on the prevention of crimes against humanity,” Nalbandian said, as quoted by the Armenian Foreign Ministry’s press office.

Armenia-NATO: Moscow appears eager to see Yerevan detached from ‘Atlantic space’


A two-day meeting of the Council of foreign ministers of NATO member countries opened in Brussels on April 1. It is at this meeting that a statement was made about suspending military and civilian cooperation with Russia, while maintaining channels of political dialogue.The expansion of NATO’s support for four post-Soviet republics – Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan – is expected to be announced today.

On April 3, a ‘mirror’ meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member states is scheduled to take place in Moscow. This meeting is likely to discuss relations of the CSTO and NATO in the light of the recent developments, particularly in Ukraine. In this context, NATO’s intention to develop relations with Armenia is particularly symptomatic, as it raises the question of whether Russia will demand that Armenia cease cooperation with NATO.

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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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10:24, March 14, 2014

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Write to me with your ideas and story suggestions.

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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


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


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


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.