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Armenia Keen On Further Partnership With EU, FM Says

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Armenia wants to develop its partnership with the European Union based on what was achieved during the recent negotiations and considering the ‘new realities’,  Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in Brussels.  

During Tuesday’s EU and Eastern Partnership Foreign Ministers meeting, which was also attended by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule, Nalbandian said that Armenia wants this partnership with the EU to be based on the results and progress achieved in recent years.

Armenia Deems Azerbaijan’s Membership In Eurasian Union Unlikely

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Armenia thinks that Azerbaijan’s accession to the emerging Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) would be against its interests, but does not consider such an option to be realistic, a senior lawmaker in Yerevan said on Wednesday.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) Artak Zakarian, the head of the Armenian parliament’s committee on foreign affairs, said: “Based on my personal analyses I find that Azerbaijan’s membership in the Union is inexpedient. The EEU is an economic union, while Azerbaijan has declared itself to be a self-sufficient economy. Besides, in the case with Azerbaijan such membership would create bigger problems in the foreign policy sphere.”

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Erdogan ‘not talking’ to Obama

July 23, 2014 Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he has stopped talking to US President Barack Obama on the phone, amid growing strains between Ankara and Washington over Syria and Gaza, israelnationalnews.com reports, citing AFP.
Turkey, a fierce opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and an open supporter of armed rebel fighters, felt betrayed when the United States backed away from military action against Damascus in September.
“In the past, I was calling him (Obama) directly. Because I can’t get the expected results on Syria, our foreign ministers are now talking to each other,” Erdogan said in a live interview on pro-government ATV channel late Monday. “And I have talked to (US Vice President Joe) Biden. He calls me and I call him.”
“I expect justice in this process. I couldn’t imagine something like this from those who are championing justice,” Erdogan added without elaborating, in an apparent jibe at Washington.
The last phone conversation between the two leaders took place on February 20 after which the White House released a statement accusing Erdogan of misrepresenting the content of the conversation.
A staunch advocate of “the Palestinian cause,” Erdogan has recently been at loggerheads with Washington over Israel’s self-defense operation in Gaza, which is now in its fifteenth day.
Erdogan accused the Jewish state of carrying out “state terrorism” and a “genocide” of Palestinians and criticized the United States for defending Israel’s “disproportionate” tactics.
The US State Department branded his comments on Israel “offensive and wrong” but the prime minister hit back by saying the United States needed to engage in “self-criticism.”
The US reiterated its stance on Erdogan’s comments on Monday, noting they undermine Turkey’s political clout.
“Well, we certainly believe that comments like these undercut Turkey’s ability to effectively influence the situation,” said deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf, who called Erdogan’s “offensive and awful”.
“We will continue working with Turkey on a number of issues, but comments like these really have no place in this discussion,” she added.
Erdogan is standing in August 10 presidential elections that he is expected to win. 

Turkey: Senior Police Arrested; Accused Of Illegal Wiretapping And Spying On Government

July 22, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Turkey No Comments
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18:02, July 22, 2014

Turkish police arrested 67 senior police officers Tuesday for illegal wire-tapping and spying on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his cabinet in a wide-scale government sweep against supporters of his political rival, reports Reuters.

The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office said that the nearly 200 raids in the early morning were carried out in Istanbul and 22 provinces in Turkey, says Channel News Asia. According to prosecutors, arrest warrants were issued for 115 police officers.

The government claims that thousands of people were illegally wiretapped, including Erdogan, cabinet members, and the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, Hakan Fidan.

ECHR orders Turkey to regulate use of tear gas, pay compensation to victim

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Turkey to pay 65,000 euros for the tear gas canister-related death of a passerby during a protest in 2006, also ruling that “Turkey must regulate the use of tear-gas grenades,” the Hurriyet Daily News reports.The victim, Tarık Ataykaya, was passing through a demonstration when he was hit in the head by a tear-gas canister fired by police as they sought to disperse demonstrators who were protesting the death of 14 members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Diyarbakır on March 29, 2006. Ataykaya succumbed to his injuries a few minutes later.The police officer responsible for Ataykaya’s death was never successfully identified due to the fact that the “type No. 12” tear-gas canister cartridge he fired at the victim’s head bore no distinguishing marks.On Jan. 30, 2008, the police disciplinary board decided to close the investigation and not impose any disciplinary sanction on the 14 suspects, on the grounds that there was no evidence to prove their involvement in the death. Many of the police officers present were wearing balaclavas at the time, the court noted.Arguing that he did not have an effective remedy in domestic law that would allow him to sue the perpetrator who fired the fatal shot, Mehmet Nesip Ataykaya, the victim’s father, applied to the ECHR, which ruled that Turkey had violated Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which safeguards the right to life.Besides this “substantive aspect” of the verdict, the court also ruled that the Turkish authorities failed to carry out an effective investigation, delayed the process, and failed to order an expert report. The court also stressed that “the domestic authorities had deliberately created a situation of impunity, making it impossible to identify the police officers” by allowing them to wear balaclavas.Meanwhile, the ECHR added that “Turkish law lacked any specific provisions governing the use of tear gas grenades during demonstrations and did not lay down any instructions for their use” at the time of the events. It noted that the investigation file was still open at the national level, meaning that fresh investigative measures ought to be taken in the Ataykaya case.In addition to the 65,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages, Turkey has been ordered to pay 5,000 euros in legal costs and expenses.Referring to two previous cases, the court “insisted on the need to reinforce, without further delay, guarantees of the proper use of tear-gas grenades, in order to minimize the risks of death and injury stemming from their use.”Under Articles 43 and 44 of the European Convention on Human Rights, chamber judgments are not final. During the three-month period following a judgment’s delivery, any party may request the case be referred to the grand chamber of the court.
 

Turkey-Customs Union free trade zone to affect Armenia: opinions

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If Turkey’s initiative to create a free trade zone with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan becomes a reality, it will prove to be an unfavorable factor for Armenia as Turkey will become a real actor in that market, with certain anti-Armenian manifestations, expert in Turkic studies Ara Papyan told Tert.am.“Turkey has had this intention for a long time. When Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev spoke of Turkey’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union, he was actually speaking of Turkey’s joining it somehow rather than of its membership. So if this scenario is made a reality, Turkey, as well as other Turkic-speaking countries, will greatly benefit from it. But it will have negative consequences for us,” Papyan said.Such developments are undesirable for Armenia because they will be conducive to the community of interests of Russia and Turkey.“The two countries’ bilateral trade turnover is around $20bn, but they are going to bring it up to $100bn. This is an anti-Armenian figure, with all the ensuing consequences,” he said.Regrettably, Armenia cannot do anything in this situation.“The only thing for us to do is to place our hopes on Russia, its realizing its own geopolitical interests. But, it should be noted, experience shows it does not work,” Papyan said.According to him, Russia is ready to renounce its geopolitical interests for economic interests because, given its heavy situation, it is seeking to resolve short-term problems.Papyan doesn’t think Armenia will be an obstacle in case the sides decide to build such relations. The only power, according to him, may be the United States in case that country doesn’t really want Turkey to develop close ties with Russia.Addressing the topic, economist Vahagn Khachatryan said it is still tpp early to talk about such relations given that none of the states have made any statement so far.“Turkey, which develops large-scale relations with Russia, will naturally desire to expand them. But the problem for the Customs Union member states is Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has always wished to expand the Kazakhstan-Turkey relations, so they now wish to involve Turkey [in the bloc] to realize their economic project,” he noted.Khachatryan added that he doesn’t pin much positive hope on the plan given that ideas of the kind have not been a success in the recent period.“After all, it will depend on how things will develop. Free trade must always have certain limitations; Turkey is World Trade Organization member, while Belarus and Kazakhstan are not. This may cause Turkey to face the same problem as did Armenia,” Khacharyan explained.As for Armenia’s future, the economist said he expects the Armenia-Turkey relations to become an agenda topic after the country joins the Russia-led economic bloc. “It is possible to make such assumptions,” he added. 

Impact Of Armenia’s EEU Membership On Trade Ties ‘Unclear’ To Iran

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Iran still has to see what impact Armenia’s planned membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will have on its trade relations with the South Caucasus neighbor, the Islamic Republic’s ambassador in Yerevan said on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference, Mohammad Reisi said that Iran has a vague idea about the emerging Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan that Armenia plans to join later this year.

The EEU, which is expected to become functional on January 1, 2015, among other things, will imply common economic space of the four former Soviet countries and the application of common customs duties at the border.

Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian announced on Thursday that Yerevan will sign a relevant treaty and formally join the EEU in late October.

Businessman’s Arrest In Moscow Sparks Reaction In Armenia, Karabakh

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The arrest of a wealthy Russia-based Armenian businessman in Moscow over alleged criminal connections has elicited a strong reaction from his family and friends in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, with some alleging an ‘Azerbaijani scheme’ behind the development.

Levon Hayrapetian, 65, was remanded into custody for two months by a Moscow court on the application of Russian investigators looking into the businessman’s alleged ties with a notorious Russian gang and possible involvement in ‘illegal financial machinations’.

Hayrapetian was detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service, the successor of the Soviet KGB, at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport on July 15 as he was reportedly returning from Monaco.

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Obama Nominates New U.S. Ambassador To Armenia

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President Barack Obama has announced his decision to nominate another U.S. career diplomat as Washington’s next ambassador to Armenia.

The White House announced late on Thursday that Obama will ask the U.S. Senate to approve the appointment of Richard Mills, until recently the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, to the position.

 “I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country,” it quoted Obama as saying in reference to Mills and more than a dozen other individuals nominated to key U.S. administration posts.

The current U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, John Heffern, began his tour of duty in October 2011. Most of his predecessors had served in Armenia for three years.

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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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Commentary

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.

Want to Write for Hetq?

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10:24, March 14, 2014

I’m looking for freelancers who can broaden the scope of Hetq’s English edition

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Politics, Civil Society, Interviews…

Anything interesting happening in your local community you’d like to share?

Write to me with your ideas and story suggestions.

Hrant at hg.hetq@gmail.com

Source: HetqOriginial Article

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.