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Taksim is ‘world’s ugliest square,’ Turkish PM says

October 20, 2014 Armenia, Culture, Turkey No Comments
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Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has described Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square as “the world’s ugliest square,” the Hurriyet Daily News reports. “If anyone tells me that Taksim is a perfect square, then I would tell him that it is the world’s ugliest square,” Davutoğlu told a group of journalists aboard the prime ministerial ANA aircraft, returning to Ankara from an official trip to the northern province of Amasya on Oct. 19.“I know about the squares in Venice and in Isfahan … After seeing them, you feel yourself in a vacuum on Taksim Square,” he added, also labeling both Taksim’s Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM) and neighboring hotel as “ugly.”Davutoğlu referred to groups who he said “abused the Taksim problem,” while touching on to issue of urbanization in Istanbul.The government’s controversial Taksim pedestrianization project had triggered widespread protests in May 2013 and was cancelled by Turkey’s Council of State earlier this year. The project for the politically-charged square involved the razing of the adjacent Gezi Park to be replaced by a rebuilt Ottoman-era Artillery Barracks.“Taksim Square was not gradually developed as a culture, unlike in Venice and Isfahan. Incidentally, if Taksim had not been formed and a military barracks had not been built there, there wouldn’t even be a square,” Davutoğlu also said, adding that an Armenian cemetery had been located in the area in the past.“I would say the barracks should not have been demolished in the first place. Although not pretty, they displayed the architecture of the time. But now, should the building be rebuilt after it was demolished? Not necessarily. These are matters that can be debated,” he said.Davutoğlu also referred to the “Bloody Labor Day” demonstrations of 1977, in which more than 30 people died in a stampede in Taksim Square triggered by gunfire by assailants who remain unidentified. “This square shouldn’t be turned into a temple now because May Day happened there,” he said.Amid ongoing concerns about Istanbul’s chronic urbanization and infrastructure problems, Davutoğlu stressing that he had instructed the related departments to not “allow the corruption of urban texture due to commercial interests.”Click here to check our list of the Top 5 Politically Charged Squares in Istanbul.
 

Turkish Cyprus sends letter to UN to reopen peace talks

October 19, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu has sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for the re-launching of negotiations with the Greek Cypriot administration, the Hurriyet Daily News reports. According to a statement issued by the president’s office on Oct. 18, Eroğlu called on the Greek Cypriot side to return to the negotiating table.The letter comes after the Greek Cypriot administration suspended talks on Oct. 8, in retaliation to Turkey’s sending of a warship to monitor an oil and gas exploration mission off the Cyprus coast.“Negotiations are the only way to reach a solution,” said Eroğlu, calling for a return to the negotiating table to reach a “fair, sustainable and negotiated solution.”Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot government have expressed strong opposition to any unilateral move by the Greek Cypriot administration to explore hydrocarbon resources around the island, saying natural resources should be exploited in a fair manner under a united Cyprus. 

Armenians of Iraqi Kurdistan – Taking Up Arms Against the Ongoing ISIL Threat

October 18, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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11:40, October 18, 2014

Commander Murad Vardanian – “We went to confront the treacherous enemy on the riverbank, before they reached our villages.”

Erbil, Dohuk, Zakho, Avzrouk, Havresk, Ishkender….

They’re all towns and villages in Iraqi Kurdistan where Armenians are living today. Most speak Kurdish, but they still adhere to Christianity.

Their nationality and religion have made them a double target for the forces of ISIL/IS who seek to create a radical Islamic caliphate across large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

Recently, I came across an interesting post in Keghart.com written by a certain HamoMoskofian. He had recently travelled to the area and wrote about meeting MuradVardanian, a former Iraqi army commander, who now heads a group of local Armenian fighters defending these communities from ISIL assaults.

Historian Claude Mutafian: The Old and New Diasporas Have Yet to Reconcile

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13:14, October 16, 2014

During a talk held the other day at the Naregatsi Art Union in Yerevan, Sorbonne Professor Claude Mutafian said that relations between the diaspora and Armenia had become further complicated due to the existence of two diasporas – the one created as a result of the 1915 Genocide and the one comprised of those who have left Armenia in the post-independence era.

Mutafian said that the two have yet to reconcile themselves and gave the example of recent clashes between the two in the French city of Nice.

The historian lamented the loss of once culturally significant communities like Aleppo, but was hopeful that the community in Lebanon would survive.

Armenian rug to go on display at White House center in November

October 16, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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The White House has confirmed that a controversial historical artifact known as the Armenian Orphan Rug will go on display at the newly renovated White House Visitor Center next month, The Washington Post reports.The rug, woven by Armenian orphans in the 1920s and presented to President Calvin Coolidge in 1925, was a gift thanking the United States for its role in assisting Armenians after the mass killings and genocidal relocations at the hands of the crumbling Ottoman Empire a century ago.The rug had been scheduled to be displayed at a Smithsonian Institution event in December, but that was canceled suddenly after the White House, without explanation, declined to release the carpet. At the time, Armenian American groups speculated that the Turkish government, which has long resisted acknowledging the events of 1915 as a genocide, was behind the White House’s refusal.In April, Rep Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said the White House had agreed to allow the rug to be seen, but the White House didn’t offer specific details about where or when. With tensions rising between the United States and Turkey over how best to handle the crisis in Syria, the decision today still came as a surprise. The U.S. government has been pressuring Turkey to assist Kurdish forces in their fight against the Islamic State, while Turkey has tied its participation in stepped-up action against the extremist group to a firmer U.S. resolve to remove Turkey’s longtime foe, Syrian PresidentBashar al-Assad, from office.A senior administration official said the timing of the announcement was unrelated to current events and that the decision was made months earlier. At issue was where and how to display the object, and there was concern about the proper care of the valuable carpet. The colorful textile is approximately 12 by 18 feet, with more than 4 million knots. It took some 10 months for the orphans, under the protection of the Near East Relief Society, to make it. 
Read more on The Washington Post website. 

Obama to discuss Islamic State with European leaders

October 15, 2014 Africa, Armenia, Arts, Turkey, Video No Comments
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US President Barack Obama is to hold a video conference with the leaders of the UK, France, Germany and Italy to discuss combating Islamic State (IS), the BBC reports.Mr Obama told foreign military chiefs on Tuesday to expect a long campaign against the jihadist group, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.He also expressed deep concern about the IS offensive on the town of Kobane, on Syria’s border with Turkey.The Ebola epidemic will also be discussed in the video conference.The World Health Organization (WHO) says 4,447 people have died after contracting the virus, most of them in West Africa.On Wednesday morning, the US authorities confirmed that a second health worker in the state of Texas had tested positive for Ebola.A third item on the video conference’s agenda will be efforts to encourage Russia to implement the Minsk ceasefire agreement with Ukraine.The US-led coalition against Islamic State has stepped up its air strikes on the group’s heavily-armed fighters surrounding the town of Kobane, where Kurdish militia have been holding out for almost a month.The jihadists are also said to be advancing on the Iraqi town of Amariya al-Falluja, one of the last still controlled by government forces in Anbar province and only 40km (25 miles) from the capital Baghdad.”Coalition air strikes will continue in both of these areas,” Mr Obama told a meeting of senior military commanders from more than 20 Western and Arab countries at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington on Tuesday.Mr Obama warned that they were facing a “long-term campaign”.”There are not quick fixes involved. We’re still at the early stages.”"As with any military effort, there will be days of progress and there are going to be periods of setback,” he added.

April 24, 2015 – Candid Interview with an Unknown Armenian Demonstrator

October 15, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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13:29, October 15, 2014

When self-delusion and reality clash…

By Misak Guyumchian

Nationalist: Our lands…return our lands

Interviewer:  Hello, can I ask you a few questions for our TV viewers?

Our lands…return our lands.

Are you the organizer of this protest? Who speaks for you guys?

Our lands…return our lands.

Do you mean Wilsonian Armenia?

Our lands…return our lands.

Do you mean the six Armenian villayets of the Ottoman Empire?

Our lands…return our lands.

Have you ever visited those lands?

Our lands…return our lands.

I’ll take that as a no. What about present-day Armenia? Have you been there?

Our lands…return our lands.

Turkey’s jobless rate increases in July

October 15, 2014 Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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Turkey’s unemployment rate increased 0.7 percent in July, up to 9.8 percent from 9.1 percent in June, official data has shown, the Hurriyet Daily News reports. The number of people without work increased by more than 200,000 in July to 2.87 million, but the employed portion of the workforce shrunk slightly to 26.4 million, according to data from Turkey’s state statistics institute (TÜİK).In July 2013, the jobless rate was 9.3 percent.
 

Source: TertOriginial Article

Lifetime prisoner wins case against Turkey at ECHR

October 15, 2014 Diaspora, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has fined Turkey 11,200 euros for failing to provide adequate legal assistance while Önder Çarkçı, who is now serving a lifetime sentence, was in custody. It also stated that his right to a fair trial within a reasonable time period was violated, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.Çarkçı, 41, was accused of participating in an armed robbery of an Istanbul jewelry shop on July 17, 1996, during which the shop owner was shot dead.Çarkçı was admitted to hospital unconscious after being shot during the incident, but before he was discharged from hospital the gendarmerie took his statement in which he confessed to taking part in the robbery and to using a gun after the shop owner opened fire.He claimed that he was subsequently taken into custody and the charges of armed robbery and murder against him were joined to a separate set of charges, including allegations that he was a member of the Turkish People’s Liberation Party/Front (THKP-C).Çarkçı, who is being held in the Kandıra Prison in the northwestern province of Kocaeli, claimed at court that he had not been involved in the robbery. He said he had only opened fire because he thought he was being attacked as he heard gunshots while passing by the shop.Ultimately, on May 30, 2008, an Istanbul court, based on his statements at hospital, convicted him of attempting to undermine the constitutional order by force as a member of the THKP-C. Çarkçı was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, in a judgment that was upheld on appeal on March 11, 2009.

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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

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.

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.