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Armenia, Georgia To Build New Border Bridge

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Armenia and Georgia will build a new bridge at their main crossing to facilitate bilateral commerce and travel, the prime ministers of the two states announced after talks in Yerevan on Thursday.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili met his Armenian counterpart Hovik Abrahamian on the first day of his official visit to Armenia. “We agreed to further deepen close cooperation between Georgia and Armenia and my visit will serve this purpose,” he told reporters afterwards.

“I also want to point out that we agreed that Armenia and Georgia will jointly build a bridge,” added Gharibashvili. “We heard today about an interesting proposal to name it Friendship Bridge and we gladly accepted that proposal.”

Key Yerevan Arena Renationalized

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Armenia’s largest sports and concert arena was formally renationalized on Thursday in payment for its Russian-based owner’s debts to the Armenian government exceeding 10.4 billion drams ($25 million).

The government also announced that the sprawling property located in Yerevan will now be managed by the Armenian Defense Ministry.

The Sport and Cultural Complex, commonly known as Hamalir (Complex), was built in 1983 and became one of the modest modern Soviet facilities of its kind. It was subsequently named after Karen Demirchian, a late Soviet Armenian leader who initiated its expensive construction.

The complex comprising two large halls was sold in 2005 to the Moscow-based construction firm BAMO belonging to an Armenian-born Russian businessman, Murad Muradian. The company paid $5.5 million and pledged to spend over $40 million on its renovation.

Yerevan Moves To Facilitate Iraqi Armenian Immigration

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The government approved on Thursday measures designed to make it easier for Iraqi Armenians to take refuge in Armenia or become its dual citizens following the rise of Islamist insurgency in Iraq.

In particular, the government simplified procedures for processing their requests for Armenian citizenship.

According to Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian, Iraqi nationals of Armenian descent will now be able to receive their new passports at Armenia’s diplomatic missions in Iraq and neighboring states. They had to travel to Yerevan for that purpose until now.

Speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan, Kocharian said ethnic Armenians fleeing violence in Iraq will also be exempted from Armenian visa, residency permit and passport fees.

Armenia to Allocate US$100,000 in Charitable Aid to Iraqi Yezidis

August 21, 2014 Armenia, Sports No Comments
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14:45, August 21, 2014

At a cabinet session today, the government of Armenia resolved to allocate US$100,000 in charitable aid to the Yezidi community in Iraq.

The funds will be transferred to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

The government also decided to include Iraq in a list of countries whose citizens can be issued Armenian passports via Republic of Armenia diplomatic missions in their country of residence.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

West African athletes banned from Youth Olympics over Ebola concerns

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Three West African athletes from the areas affected by the recent Ebola outbreak will not take part in the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, a joint communique issued by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the games’ Organizing Committee said Friday.
To ensure the safety of the participants in the competition, the IOC has banned athletes from the West African regions affected by the Ebola epidemic from participating in contact sports and pool events, reads the Friday communique.
The decision affects three athletes in total, while other contestants from the region will be “Subject to regular temperature and physical assessment throughout the period [of the games],” the joint statement says.
The Second Youth Olympic Games is to be held in Nanjing, China from August 16-28.
Earlier, Sierra Leone’s Olympic body urged its athletes to refrain from taking trips to China. Although the Nanjing Organizing Committee stressed that all nations are equally welcome in the competition, and noted that the risk of infection at the event is extremely low.

Bodybuilder forced to give up his career because of devastating bowel disease is now a fitness model

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A bodybuilder struck down with a crippling bowel disease has become a male model – who proudly sports a colostomy bag, the Daily Mail reports. Blake Beckford was preparing to compete in a bodybuilding competition when he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.The painful condition causes inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining of the rectum and colon, triggering symptoms such as diarrhoea and stomach cramps.Over the next decade, the devastated 33-year-old was treated with a variety of different drugs.But his condition meant he was constantly tired – and needing to go to the loo up to 20 times a day.He was also forced to give up his strict training regime – which had included two-hour gym sessions, six days a week – and lost two stone in weight as his muscle wasted away.By last October, his health had deteriorated so much that he required surgery.Mr Beckford was admitted to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for a sub-total colectomy.This involved removing his entire colon before doctors performed an ileostomy – where the small intestine is diverted through an opening in the abdomen.He was fitted with a stoma bag on the outside of his body to collect waste.Doctors also warned the father-of-one he would never be able to train at the level required to be a fitness model.He said: ‘They said to start lifting weights and training to be a physique model would be very unattainable and unlikely.’I was warned there was a risk of hernias and other problems.’But determined to prove them wrong, he began a training regime in January, starting at a weight of 11st 12lbs.Over the last six months he has bulked up to 13st 2lbs and has just appeared in ‘Men’s Fitness’ magazine.And now a personal trainer, he hopes his progress will inspire others with stoma bags to have more confidence.’Mr Beckford, who lives with his partner in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, said: ‘I am determined to show people and society that having a stoma doesn’t change who you are.’It doesn’t mean you’re not normal. You can achieve anything you want to do, you can be attractive, and you can lead a normal life.’He admits that it took some time to get used to his new appearance.’When I came out of hospital, I had to get used to having a stoma,’ he said.’I knew it was there, but found it hard to accept the fact I had this bag on my stomach and what it did.’It was strange because I didn’t even want to show my family at first.’It took a while to build my confidence again, to talk to people openly about having a stoma, to show anyone what I had.’But over time I realised “this is me”.’The operation had also made me feel like a new person. My energy levels were much better and I could enjoy life more.’He now plans to enter his first competition in the physique class of the Miami Pro UK Championships in October this year.He added: ‘After the surgery I remember thinking if I would be happy even if I could just potter around the garden or spend time with my friends and family.’I never thought I would be able to get in this shape and be competing for the first time.’ 
 
 
 

Lack of School and Kindergarten Town’s Main Problems, Says Mayor While Buying Loudspeakers for Town Festivities

July 28, 2014 Armenia, Culture, Sports No Comments
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13:45, July 28, 2014

The two main problems of the town of Burastan in Ararat Province, according to the mayor, are the lack of a school and a kindergarten. However, these issues not yet resolved, the mayor, AshotTarverdyan, has decided to promote the development of culture and sports. Tarverdyan already spoke with a few athletes to hold classes on Olympic sports in their town.

Though the town’s four-year development program includes constructing a new school, the mayor isn’t too hopeful. Besides, he says, children go to the school in neighboring Masis, which is fine for them.

Armenian consulate opens in Lyon

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An Armenian consulate general opened in Lyon, France on Monday, bringing together different high-ranking officials, public, political and cultural figures.
According to a press release by the Foreign Ministry, the ceremony was conducted by Armenian FM Edward Nalbandian, Rhône-Alpes Prefect Jean-François Carenco, Lyon Mayor Gérard Collomb and the head of the region’s General Council.
Legendary French-Armenian singer and musician Charles Aznavour (who is also Armenia’s ambassador to Switzerland) also attended the event.
FM Nalbandian highly stressed the importance of the initiative in his speech, noting that both Lyon and the Rhône-Alpes region have a unique significance in the development of Armenian-French relations.
“The first records on the Armenians’ presence in Lyon date back from the Middle Ages. Merchants and later silk-manufacturing Armenians settled and worked in the region,” he said.
“Having taken a narrow flight from the Genocide, thousands of Armenians, who found themselves in Marseilles, went up the river bed of Rhone to find a second homeland in Lyon, Valence, Grenoble, Vienne and elsewhere. They were integrated into the French society to contribute to the development of Rhône-Alpes and its cities and towns. And that contribution continues today.
“With its Armenian churches, monuments, schools, cultural and sports center, Lyon and the Rhône-Alpes region demonstrate the high level of the Armenians’ integration and at the same time the connections with Armenia,” he said.
The minister thanked the local authorities, Armenian organizations and the Armenian community members for the continuous strengthening of the bilateral friendship.
The event was widely covered by the media. 

Sarkisian’s Pick For Ambassador Raises Eyebrows

Two retired senior Armenian diplomats criticized President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday for appointing a politically inexperienced former weightlifter as Armenia’s ambassador to neighboring Georgia.

Yuri Vartanian’s appointment, announced on Tuesday, continued a pattern of unusual diplomatic postings made by Sarkisian during his six-year rule. In particular, Sarkisian has given ambassadorial and consular posts to several wealthy Diaspora Armenians who have never lived in Armenia.

Vartanian was named to run the Armenian Embassy in Tbilisi on Tuesday less than two months after being dismissed as minister of sports and youth affairs. He had served as an adviser to Sarkisian before taking up the ministerial post in May 2013.

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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

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.