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Turks rebuild Armenian churches while keeping silent on origins

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The municipal authorities of Ayntap, the capital of Turkey’s Gaziantep Province, say they have completed the repairs of two Armenian churches and initiated the reconstruction of the third, according to Agos.
 Additionally, some 200 houses in the same district are said to have been rebuilt.
The publication says that different development companies have started pulling down constructions in the district to build new hotels and cafés.
“The district Bay has seen the defense of Ayntap; it has been the district where [Mustafa Kemal] Ataturk was registered.” the city’s former mayor, Asim Guzelbay, was quoted as saying.
He admitted that Bay was dominantly populated by Armenians before 1915, with the Armenians presence dating from the fifth century.
“The district with a population of 80,000 had 36,000 Armenians in 1911. The Armenians of Ayntap had 25 educational institutions there. The Armenian potters, weavers and leather-makers were acclaimed not only in Ayntap, but also in Urfa, Marash, Adiyaman and the neighboring regions. Eighteen thousand Armenians residents who survived the Genocide left Ayntap in 1922,” he added.
Eva Sharlak, an arts professor, further gave her comments on the redevelopment activities in different cities and towns of Anatolia. “It is important for the reconstructed building to be returned to their governments. We have to think about that. When we look at the construction activities, we see that all the cultures in these regions are important and problematic. They must be taken under protection,” she said.

Russia’s show of military might in pictures

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15:47 • 09/05
Prosperous Armenia party delegation visits Victory Park

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14:50 • 09/05
‘I’ll never backtrack’ – Ivan Volynkin

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Armenia’s premier determined to do his best for equal economic conditions

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Serzh Sargsyan attends in Victory Day events in Karabakh (photos)

13:47 • 09/05
Renowned composer Konstantin Orbelyan to be buried in Armenia

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Russia’s show of military might in pictures

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Armenia’s first president joins victory celebrations

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Victory Day celebrated in Yerevan Victory Park

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US Embassy to Armenia responds to criticism over Warlick’s speech

Erdogan address gives new hopes to Islamized Armenians

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s condolence address, issued ahead of the Armenian Genocide anniversary, is said to have inspired Turkey’s Islamized Armenians with positive hopes.
According to the Turkish Star, many of them now hope that they will finally be able to find relatives they haven’t met for many years.
Those residing in villages at the foot of Mount Ararat reportedly want the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border. They have said that their ancestors had to quit the settlements. For many of them, Erdogan’s statement is a sign of progress.
“Why don’t the Armenia and Turkey open the border so that we could visit our relatives, and they could visit us? We haven’t heard from our loved ones for so many years. Thanks to this positive posture of the premier, they will come and find us,” said one of the local Armenians.
Zeki Sh, a 68-year-old resident of one of the villages, said they are very happy that the Turkish PM “realized their grief” for the first time ever.
“That’s an unspeakable joy for us. Our ancestors were exiled from here. We have now stayed. We have lived in peace for years,” villager was quoted as saying. 

Organizations Call for Review of Pre-Trial Detention Standards in Armenia

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15:46, May 6, 2014

Recent cases of pre-trial detention in Armenia once again raise the issue of the routine application of measures of constraint by judges in violation of the international human rights standards.

The Criminal Procedure Code of Armenia (CPC) details the grounds and procedure for applying measures of restraint, including pre-trial detention. Pre-trial detention may be ordered by a court if the alleged crime or felony is punishable with at least one year of imprisonment, and when sufficient grounds exist to suspect that the accused intends to abscond or interfere with proceedings, in particular by exerting unlawful influence on other persons involved in the case; to tamper with evidence; to commit another criminal offence; to avoid responsibility and the imposition of punishment, or to oppose the implementation of a sentence [1]. When selecting a measure of restraint, factors such as the nature and the gravity of the crime, the personality of the suspect or accused, his or her occupation and dependents, and the availability of a permanent residence should be taken into account [2].

Turkey’s statements set limit with no expectations beyond it – Vahram Ter-Matevosyan

May 5, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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In response to Tert.am’s question about the possibility of Turkey reopening its border with Armenia on the threshold of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, without any preconditions, to prove something to the world – which, in fact, would be far from realpolitik – expert in Turkic studies Vahram Ter-Matevosyan said:“If we speak of a hypothetic scenario, we could expect not only such a step by Turkey, but also subscenarios. I do not think it [the border] will be reopened without the establishment of official diplomatic relations. It is needed to settle some issue.”In commenting on Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoglu’s article in The Guardian, Ter-Matevosyan said:“The wordings in Davutoglu’s article should be viewed in the context of the statements by the Turkish PM and government members on April 23 and during the following week. But we should also consider the fact that the elections scheduled for this August and next May and June are both opportunities and challenges for Turkish political forces. Of course, statements will be made, with many to take advantage of them. Nationalists will try to gain the best advantage of possible statements.Following his statement on April 23, the Turkish premier denied the Armenian Genocide in his interview with PBS TV, saying: “If such a Genocide occurred would there have been any Armenians living in this country?”“He has never admitted the fact. An important thing should be considered: previous and further statements set the limit beyond which any further expectations can never be held not to be disappointed. And this limit means offering condolences rather than apologies. That is, moral consequences rather than legal or political consequences are implied. We should take into account the fact that Turkey’s elite is not prepared for doing it, offering condolences, nor is it prepared for making statements of legal or political nature.” 

Armenia Participates in Dubai "Arabian Travel Market" Expo

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14:23, May 5, 2014

The National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia will represent Armenia at the Arabian Travel Market international travel and tourism show in Dubai from May 5-8. 

With an expected attendance of over 20,000 buyers and travel professionals and 21,000 visitors, it is the biggest event of tourism industry in the Middle East. 

The exhibition unlocks business potential of the region, while serving as an effective platform of discussion of challenges and perspectives in the tourism sector. 

Armenia’s rich cultural, historical and Christian heritage will be presented in travel guides and maps during the exhibition. 

NCFA’s participation in this major exhibition aims to promote the tourism of Armenia in the Mideast market, establish new partnerships to promote tour packages and contribute to the growth of tourist inflows. 

Turks and Armenians – we must follow Erdogan’s lead and bury our common pain – Davutoglu

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Below is Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s article published in The GuardianHistory is replete with squandered opportunities. The challenge for those in power is to assess in real time the risks of missing these moments. I had a sense back in 2009 when I was traveling to Zurich to sign an agreement with the government of Armenia that we were heading towards such a critical juncture.
The agreement would normalise Turkey-Armenia relations and have a significant and positive impact on the whole of the Caucasus. Some unexpected difficulties threatened to derail the whole process at the last moment, and had I been able to share my thoughts at the time I would have underscored the same principles set out last week by Prime Minister Erdogan in his historic message on the events of 1915, concerning the relocation of the Ottoman Armenians. With this in mind, I believe we now have the opportunity to recapture the engagement and conciliation that eluded us in 2009.
Relations between Turks and Armenians date back centuries. As the Ottoman empire expanded, Turks and Armenians interacted in a multitude of ways. Armenians were among the best integrated communities in terms of enriching the social, cultural, economic and political life of the empire, and added untold value to the empire’s development throughout cycles of war and peace.
The influence of Ottoman Armenians in intellectual and artistic circles cannot be overstated. Works of many Ottoman musicians might not have survived had not the Armenian musician Hamparsum Limoncuyan introduced a style of solfége musical teaching. Tatyos Efendi, Bimençe, and Gomitas are all well-known classical Armenian music composers who also made outstanding contributions. Edgar Manas, another Armenian, was one of the composers of the Turkish national anthem.
Ottoman architecture of the 19th century was marked by works commissioned by the Ottoman sultans to Armenian architects, most notably builders of the Balyan family. Well known landmarks of Istanbul, such as the imperial palaces of Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi, are attributed to the Balyans, as are several significant mosques along the Bosphorus. One of my predecessors, Gabriel Noradunkyan, served as foreign minister of the Ottoman Empire from 1912-13 and was a prominent Armenian figure in international affairs.
The power of the Ottoman empire declined continuously in the 19th century. The loss of the Balkan provinces was a striking defeat which resulted in mass atrocities, expulsion and the deportation of Ottoman Muslims. A series of ethnic cleansings in the Balkans pushed millions eastward, transforming the demographic structure of Anatolia and leading to the destabilisation and deterioration of communal relations there as well. Approximately 5 million Ottoman citizens were driven away from their ancestral homes in the Balkans, the Caucasus and Anatolia. While much of western history tells of the suffering of the dispossessed and dead Ottoman Christians, the colossal sufferings of Ottoman Muslims remains largely unknown outside of Turkey.
It is an undeniable fact that the Armenians suffered greatly in the same period. The consequences of the relocation of the large part of the Armenian community are unacceptable and inhuman.
What is also true is that the dispute over why and how the Armenian tragedy happened, sadly, continues to distress Turks and Armenians today. Communal and national memories of a pain, suffering, deprivation and monumental loss of life continue to keep the Armenian and Turkish peoples apart. Competing and seemingly irreconcilable narratives on the 1915 events prevent the healing of this trauma. What we share is a “common pain” inherited from our grandparents.
National memories are important. However, could Turkish and Armenian narratives not come closer together, could a “just memory” not emerge? Believing this can happen, Turkey proposed a joint commission composed of Turkish and Armenian historians to study the events of 1915. The findings of the commission, if established, would bring about a better understanding of this tragic period and hopefully help to normalise our relationship.
Offering condolences to the descendants of Ottoman Armenians with compassion and respect is a duty of humanity. An almost century-long confrontation has proved that we cannot solve the problem unless we start listening to and understanding each other. We must also learn to respect, without comparing sufferings and without categorising them.
Addressing my ambassadors few years ago, I called for a change to Turkey’s “concept of diaspora”. I told them that all diasporas withroots in Anatolia – including the Armenian diaspora – are our diaspora too, and should be treated as such with open arms. Though many of our diplomats still mourned their friends and colleagues taken by terrorists from Asala (the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia), I am proud to say that they welcomed these instructions with enthusiasm and without any wish for revenge. They knew that we would better cherish the memories of the dead if we could bury hatred altogether.
Everybody can become partners in this, and for our own part we see clearly that unless justice is done for others it will not be done for us.
I appeal to everyone to seize this moment, and to join us to reconstruct a better future for Turkish-Armenian relations. The statement by Prime Minister Erdogan is an unprecedented and courageous step taken in this direction. I believe now is the time to invest in this relationship. But we can only succeed if this endeavour is embraced by a wider constituency intent on reconciliation. Turkey stands ready. 

Ankara Calls For Turkish-Armenian Dialogue


Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday paid tribute to “untold” contributions of Armenians to the Ottoman Empire, again acknowledged their “inhuman” suffering in 1915 and renewed his government’s calls for a joint Turkish-Armenian study of their mass extermination.
In an op-ed article published in the London daily “The Guardian,” Davutoglu said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s unprecedented condolences extended to the descendants of 1.5 million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Turks represent a unique chance for such a dialogue. But he gave no indication that Ankara is prepared to recognize the mass killings as genocide.
“Relations between Turks and Armenians date back centuries,” wrote Davutoglu. “As the Ottoman empire expanded, Turks and Armenians interacted in a multitude of ways. Armenians were among the best integrated communities in terms of enriching the social, cultural, economic and political life of the empire, and added untold value to the empire’s development throughout cycles of war and peace.
“The influence of Ottoman Armenians in intellectual and artistic circles cannot be overstated … Edgar Manas, another Armenian, was one of the composers of the Turkish national anthem.
“Ottoman architecture of the 19th century was marked by works commissioned by the Ottoman sultans to Armenian architects, most notably builders of the Balyan family. Well known landmarks of Istanbul, such as the imperial palaces of Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi, are attributed to the Balyans, as are several significant mosques along the Bosphorus. “
“One of my predecessors, Gabriel Noradunkyan, served as foreign minister of the Ottoman Empire from 1912-13 and was a prominent Armenian figure in international affairs,” stressed Davutoglu.

Press freedom suffers setback in Armenia, according to Freedom House

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The latest press freedom index, published by the international human rights watchdog Freedom House, has rated the Armenian media “Not Free”, recording a slight setback in the country compared to last year.
In the report entitled, Freedom of the Press 2014, Armenia ranks the 134th in the list of 197 world countries. Its score is 62 in the index (instead of the 61 in 2013). 
Turkey, which has the same score, ranks as the 42nd country this year. Russia and Azerbaijan are also among the “Not Free” states, with 81 and 84 points, respectively. The authors have pointed out to the deteriorating situation with the freedom of press in the country. Iran, with 90 points, has shown the poorest record in the region. The situation is better with Georgia which has been classified as a “Partly Free” country with 47 points.
Media freedom hits decade low, according to the Freedom House website. The authors have attributed the situation to the Arab Spring that saw dramatic developments in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia.
“The year’s declines were driven by the desire of governments—particularly in authoritarian states or polarized political environments—to control news content, whether through the physical harassment of journalists covering protest movements or oth¬er sensitive news stories; restrictions on foreign reporters; or tightened constraints on online news outlets and social media. In addition, press freedom in a number of countries was threatened by private owners—especially those with close connections to governments or ruling parties—who altered editorial lines or dismissed key staff after acquiring previously independent outlets,” reads the document.
The full report can be accessed here. 

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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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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


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.