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Turkey Vows To Keep ‘Serving Azerbaijan’

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Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reaffirmed his country’s unconditional support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh during an official visit to Baku on Friday.

“As Turkey’s prime minister and a representative of the Turkish people, I declare that Turkey will stand by Azerbaijan until the liberation of every square centimeter of Azerbaijani territory,” Davutoglu said after talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

“I want to reassure you that even the slightest pain caused to Azerbaijan is a blow to Turkey’s heart,” he told the press, according to Azerbaijani news agencies. “We see no difference between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Serving Azerbaijan means serving Turkey and vice versa.”

Dashnaktsutyun Defends Support For Constitutional Reform

September 19, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) defended on Friday its readiness to support a radical constitutional reform planned by the authorities and rejected by other major opposition parties.

Aghvan Vartanian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader, said Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic would bode well for democratization even if it is aimed at prolonging President Serzh Sarkisian’s rule.

“We consider that scenario likely, and, seeing the authorities’ nature and financial resources, are sure that the authorities have their own calculations,” Vartanian told a news conference. “That aim cannot be ruled out.”

“But we are saying that if we personalize issues — [speculate about] whether this person will stay on or another will come in — we won’t solve the problem. The problem is not individuals. For me, if another political force wins a majority [in parliament] under the existing [constitutional] system that won’t make any difference.”

Sarkisian Visits Vatican, Meets Pope

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President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday met with Pope Francis I and invited him to visit Armenia next year during an official trip to the Vatican that highlighted increased links between the Roman Catholic and Armenian Apostolic Churches.

Sarkisian also held separate talks with the Vatican’s Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and other cardinals representing the Roman Curia, the Catholic Church’s administrative body.

“During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the development and strengthening of bilateral relations, highlighting the special role of Christianity in the history and life of Armenian society,” the Holy See said in a communique issued after the meetings.

Karabakh Armenians Hail Scottish Referendum

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Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership welcomed on Thursday the referendum on Scotland’s independence from Britain as yet another triumph of peoples’ right to self-determination that has been championed by it in the conflict with Azerbaijan.

A spokesman for Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh president, praised the British government for allowing the Scots to decide whether they want to become an independent state or remain part of the United Kingdom.

“Whatever the outcome of the referendum, the main thing is how Great Britain has responded to such an aspiration. As we can see, [it has responded] in a very civilized way. I see no pressure on and no intimidation of Scots,” the official, Davit Babayan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Pro-Opposition Tycoon Downbeat On Economy

September 18, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Business, Top News No Comments
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A prominent Armenian businessman sympathetic to the opposition on Thursday offered a grim assessment of the economic situation in Armenia and said that it will not improve without a “change of the political system.”

Khachatur Sukiasian claimed that the existing system precludes a breakup of de facto economic monopolies which he said is needed for the country’s sustainable economic development.

“The Armenian economy is in crisis,” Sukiasian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I don’t trust in this 4.1 percent growth and other growth figures [reported by the government.]”

“The monopolies are certainly having a very bad impact,” he said in an interview. “I think that is one of the main problems. First of all, in terms of creating an atmosphere. Secondly, in terms of confidence. You need a lot of confidence to invest in a country.

Kuwait ‘Ready’ To Finance Syrian District In Armenia

September 18, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Europe, Top News No Comments
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The government Kuwait on Thursday reportedly expressed readiness to finance the construction of a special residential district for ethnic Armenians from Syria who have taken refuge in Armenia.

The Armenian government’s press office quoted Faysal Fahd al-Shayi, the head of a Kuwaiti parliamentary delegation visiting Yerevan, as telling Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian that “Kuwait is ready to provide assistance to work on the New Aleppo neighborhood.” A statement released by the office said nothing about the possible scale of that assistance and gave no other details.

In late 2012, the Kuwaiti government allocated $100,000 worth of humanitarian aid to Syrian Armenian refugees. It took the form of grocery coupons distributed to some 1,000 such families.

School Rehabilitation Project Criticized

September 18, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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The head of an Armenian parliamentary oversight body again alleged misuse of public funds on Thursday as he assessed the implementation of a government project to refurbish 74 schools across the country.

The project was launched in 2006 and was supposed to be completed last year. Its implementation has fallen behind schedule, however, with construction firms contracted by the Armenian government still working on at least 13 schools in and outside Yerevan. Their reconstruction worth 1.4 billion drams ($3.4 million) was due to be finished by the end of this year.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Urban Development Minister Narek Sargsian asked the government to extend this deadline further until 2016 or even 2017. Sargsian, who was appointed as minister in May, said that is necessary for ensuring the adequate quality of the ongoing repairs.

Ruling Party Alarmed By Opposition ‘Revanchism’

September 17, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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Current domestic challenges to President Serzh Sarkisian’s rule result from a political marriage of convenience between some oligarchs and politicians bent on “revanchism,” the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) claimed on Wednesday.

HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov also laughed off opposition allegations that Sarkisian is keen to turn Armenia into a parliamentary republic in order to be able to stay in power after completing his second and final presidential term in 2018.

“If there is any reason for concern, it’s a merger of revanchism and oligarchy,” he said, commenting on those allegations. “If constitutional reforms make my country more democratic, deepens pluralism, and strengthen the separation of powers, then what is the problem?”

Date Set For Armenian Opposition Rally

September 17, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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Three leading Armenian parties critical of President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday decided to hold a joint rally on October 10 which might mark the beginning of their campaign of anti-government street protests.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), another opposition party represented in parliament, announced, meanwhile, that it will not participate in the rally because it disagrees with the troika’s unconditional rejection of sweeping constitutional amendments planned by Sarkisian.

The announcements came after a two-hour meeting of senior lawmakers from the four parties that have increasingly worked together in challenging the Armenian government over the past year. Their cooperation culminated in a list of 12 political and economic demands that were issued to the Sarkisian administration in June. The opposition quartet said at the time that it will rally supporters this fall to discuss the authorities’ response to those demands. The date of that rally was not known until now.

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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.