Ex-Russian Envoy Again Warns Armenia

Armenia will put its national security and independence at serious risk unless rejects “Western values” to fully align itself with Russia, a former Russian ambassador in Yerevan warned on Tuesday.

Vyacheslav Kovalenko claimed that failure to make a “final” geopolitical choice in favor of Russia could thrust the country into the kind of crisis that has plagued Ukraine since the overthrow of a pro-Russian government in Kiev.

“Armenia must make a choice because in order for the economy of a small country like Armenia to develop, it has to integrate, it has to join some integration structures,” Kovalenko told Armenian journalists in a video conference from Moscow. “And the choice here is stark. I think the situation will develop in such a way that we will require Armenia to make that choice.

Turkish Warplanes Fly In Azerbaijan

At least a dozen Turkish warplanes and helicopter gunships are carrying out flights in Azerbaijan in second joint Turkish-Azerbaijani military exercises conducted so far this year.

The F-16 fighter jets, C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft and Super Cobra and Black Hawk helicopters reportedly arrived in Azerbaijan on Thursday to take part in what the Defense Ministry in Baku called “large-scale” exercises of its ground forces that ended on Saturday.

A ministry statement released over the weekend claimed that they involved as many as 30,000 Azerbaijani soldiers, hundreds of tanks and artillery systems, dozens of military aircraft and helicopters as well as an unspecified number of Turkish military personnel. It said they practiced “offensive operations in different conditions, including in a mountainous terrain.”

Armenian Lifers Again On Hunger Strike

Twenty-nine men serving life sentences in Armenia’s largest prison again went on hunger strike on Monday to demand that the authorities review their cases or legally increase their chances of regaining freedom.

Eleven of them ended the protest later in the day after receiving fresh assurances that the Armenian Justice Ministry, which runs the prisons across the country, is addressing their demands.

Tsovinar Khachatrian, a ministry spokeswoman, said officials at Yerevan’s Nubarashen prison informed them that “legislative changes are expected regarding those sentenced to life in prison and their prison conditions.” She gave no details of those changes.

The Nubarashen inmates heard similar promises before ending their previous, three-day hunger strike in July. Justice Minister Hovannes Manukian assured them that he will find legal “solutions” to their plight.

Eurasian Union ‘No Threat To Armenia’s Independence’

Armenia will not risk losing its independence after joining the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), President Serzh Sarkisian insisted on Sunday as he marked the 23rd anniversary of the country’s secession from the Soviet Union.

“Today, on Armenia’s Independence Day, I declare with utmost responsibility that our membership in the Eurasian Economic Union does not pose a threat to Armenia’s political independence in any way. Such claims [to the contrary] are groundless,” he said in a speech at an official reception held in Yerevan on the occasion.

“There is no integration process in the world which does not presuppose coordination of steps. This is more than a natural phenomenon,” Sarkisian added, responding to critics of his unexpected decision last year to seek membership of the bloc comprising Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Latest Armenian News:

Rebirth of Armenian statehood only way to real independence – opinion

September 20, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Diaspora, Karabakh No Comments
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Armenia’s independence cannot be considered an accomplished fact unless the country manages to reinstate its one-time big statehood, a veteran of the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) war has said, commenting on the achievements and losses of the post-independence period.
“My evaluation of the achievements will be regressive a little bit. As far Artsakh is concerned, we haven’t gained a full victory there. I ask a taxi driver, for example, if we live in an independent country, and the answer is ‘no’,” Arthur Buniatyan told reporters on Saturday.
“We are on the brink of extermination, with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin saying that Armenia is in Russia,” he added.
The war hero said he finds the reinstatement of the historical statehood the only way out of the current situation.
Levon Poghosyan, the Armenians’ Unanimity Movement’s chief also attending the news conference, said the Armenians’ success in the Artsakh liberation war marked a victory for not only the nation but also the statehood. “If those in power today do not have a sovereign country, then they do not have anything to rule. So what can it have to do with independence?” he asked.
Poghosyan said he doesn’t think that even the best efforts by the authorities can bring about positive changes in Armenia today, with the entire Soviet-time heritage (factories etc.) havng being destroyed. “Our statehood has been sold,” he concluded.

Karabakh reports 200 violations of ceasefire

September 20, 2014 Armenia, Azerbaijan, Karabakh No Comments
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Around 200 violations of ceasefire were recorded along the Line of Contact between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan in the past week.
According to a press release by the Defense Army, the Azerbaijani armed troops released over 900 gunshots against the Armenian defense guards, using weapons of different calibers.
Subsequent retaliatory operations by frontline subdivision have helped suppress the enemy activeness.

Source: TertOriginial Article

Eurasian integration impact depends on economic policies – Armenian official

September 20, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe No Comments
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In an interview with Tert.am, the head of the Economy Ministry’s Industry Policy Department elaborated on the economic impact of Armenia’s Eurasian integration.
Commenting on the possible advantages and disadvantages of the country’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the western powers’ sanctions against Russia, Armen Yeganyan said he believes that all future developments will depend on the kind of economic policies pursued.
The Central Bank has revised its forecasts in the industry sector, reducing particularly the expected growth in mining and metallurgy. What are the trends in this conection?
The Central Bank may have made its forecasts and analyses and envisioned the reduction trends, but I would like to elaborate on the statistics. Though it reflected a decline in the industry sector at the beginning of the year, those paces were reduced every other month. Back in June, we had a 1.5 percent industrial growth. And the growth for August too, will be higher I think, and the trend will be maintained.
Given that the EEU membership is an accomplished process, with the treaty expected to be signed on October 10, what reflection do you think it will have on Armenia’s economy? What negotiations have been conducted?
Negotiations were conducted in all directions, focusing, among other things, on the customs duties – including both tariff and non-tariff regulations.
What new opportunities does the EEU membership offer, given especially that many believe that we had those advantages before?
Making evaluations on a membership in an organization or union is logical after the that membership is an accomplished deal. A positive or negative result depends on the kind of policies that the sides involved will pursue. If a membership in a union or a relationship with another country enables us to pursue the right economic policies and have a positive result, we will have a positive outcome. If we do not mange that, the outcome will be negative.
But how do we know what is awaiting us and where we are going?
The groups which have worked in that direction naturally have their analyses, but those are only forecasts. A more realistic analysis is possible after the process in question comes to a close. The impact may be both positive and negative depending on the way we guide our policies. Our easier access to the market will be an opportunity, of course, though we have a free trade agreement with those countries, which is already an opportunity in a way.
Many believe that the sanctions against Russia help Armenia increase its export volumes. Are there noticeable results in this respect?
The sanctions were imposed not quite a long time ago, and they mainly apply to agricultural produce. But regardless of everything – whether they are sanctions enforced against or by Russia – it is possible to gain certain advantages. Export-oriented policies have to reflect an action plan aimed at the development of export. And episodes as this should never serve as basis for them.
So we have to think about guiding our policies in a way that would help develop the export regardless of the presence or absence of restrictions in Russia. Export-oriented policies have to be based on the development of export, without ever reflecting episodicactions. We must try to ensure high-quality competitive products that will be possible to export to not only the Russian but also other countries’ markets. If we guide our policies in that way and have “developed exports”, and if our products are recognizable, our export volumes will naturally increase, irrespective of restrictions on any market.
Europe is expanding the list of sanctions against Russia, and many experts believe that it will have a negative impact on Armenia’s economy. Do you think that threat exists?
Armenia is not isolated from the world, after all. We are in an everyday cooperation with different countries, so our economy can be said to be in a kind of dependence upon other countries’ economies. Once a problem emerges in any place, it may have its negative impact on our country. The same can be said about the 2008 global recession, whose wave naturally came to Armenia, producing its influence on our economy.
But when the crisis began, our authorities said it wouldn’t reflect on us; however we overcame it with great difficulty. Can the same scenario apply to the sanctions?
The statements about the recession were forecasts and professional evaluations, and one can always err while making a forecast. I haven’t heard for now that the sanctions will not affect us.
So do you confirm that it will have a negative impact on our economy?
What I say the negative consequences of any country’s economy may have their impact on us. All depends on how we can use the situation while implementing our economic policies. If we are able to use the situation the right way, we can suffer minimum or no negative impact.
Your evaluations are more of a general nature. If possible, say more specifically, what impact will the sanctions have on Armenia?
If I say today that there will have no impact at all, it will not be serious. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct profound professional studies to be able to assess the negative or positive result. But even the forecasts conducted based on those analyses are not expected to be 100 percent accurate. Any situational changes may cause those forecasts to lose their value.

Average salaries up 7.7% in Armenia this year

September 19, 2014 Armenia, Culture No Comments
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The latest macro-economic index, published by Armenia’s National Statistical Service, reveals a 7.7% increase in the average salaries in the past months (Jan – Aug 2014).
The growth appears to be the highest in the private sector (8.5%) as opposed to government-run institutions (6.8%).
The same statistics also reveals an increase in industrial manufacturing (0.9%), agriculture’s share in GDP (4.9%), the development sector (0.4%) and the trade turnover (5.7%).
As for the export and import volumes, they have grown respectively by 1.1% and 3.8% in the reporting period.

Source: TertOriginial Article

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.”

Searching for the Subjects of Three Photos Taken in Three Wars

September 19, 2014 Armenia, Film, Karabakh No Comments
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13:28, September 19, 2014

Photo-journalist Oleg Klimov has covered numerous wars during his career.

Twenty years on, Klimov decided to locate the subjects in three photos he shot in three conflicts – Karabakh, Abkhazia and Chechnya.

Klimov confesses that the identity of people he’s photographed during war were unknown to him and merely served as characters caught up in a wider conflict.

In a film entitled “Letters to Myself”, the documentarian Masha Novikovachronicles the search of Klimov to track down these individuals, starting with Karabakh.

The photo is entitled – Madonna with Klashnikov in Hand”. Klimov can only remember that it was taken in Stepanakert, the capital of Karabakh.

European Parliament Drafts Joint Resolution Condemning Azerbaijan for Persecuting Human Rights Defenders

September 19, 2014 Armenia, Azerbaijan, Europe No Comments
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17:53, September 19, 2014

A number of European Parliament deputies have drafted a joint motion for a resolution condemning the Azerbaijani government for its persecution of human rights defenders and calling on Baku to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and cease politically motivated arrests. In particular, the motion mentions the arrest of LeylaYunus, Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy in Azerbaijan, and her husband, the historian ArifYunus, on politically motivated charges.

Other human rights defenders recently arrested by the Azerbaijani government cited in the resolution include RasulJafarov, Chair of Azerbaijan’s Human Rights Club, and Chair of Azerbaijan’s Legal Education Society, IntigamAliyev.

‘Three’ plans active campaign – Levon Zurabyan

September 19, 2014 Armenia No Comments
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The Armenian National Congress (ANC), Prosperous Armenia and Heritage parliamentary groups had a closed meeting on Friday.Following the meeting, Head of the ANC parliamentary group Levon Zurabyan told reporters that the group discussed issues related to public meetings in Armenia’s regions and to the rally planned for October 10.“We are going to hold public meetings in eight cities. We have formed three-party structures that are supposed to make preparations for rallies,” Mr Zurabyan said.“It will become a landmark in the political processes in the country. This process is rapidly progressing. We are hopeful that our cause will be crowned with success,” Mr Zurabyan said. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

Armenian president meets with Pope Francis in Vatican (photos)

September 19, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora No Comments
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As part of his official visit to Vatican, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan met with Pope Francis for tête-à-tête talks at the Holy See.
According to a press release presidential office, the sides discussed the high level bilateral relations, agreeing mutually that they stem from identical Christian set of values and ideology.
They highlighted the importance of the past years’ frequent mutual visits and dialogues, considering it a sign of a bilateral willingness to keep the relations under spotlight.President Sargsyan officially invited the pontific to visit Armenia in 2015. The Pope accepted the offer with delight, saying that it had always been his heart’s desire to be in the country.
The Armenian leader later had meetings with Cardinal Pietro Parolini and members of the Curia (Holy See administrative apparatus). 

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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.