Armenia, EU To Discuss New Formats Of Cooperation

Armenian and European Union officials will meet soon to try to work out a new legal framework for bilateral relations that would not contradict Armenia’s upcoming membership in a Russian-led alliance, officials said on Wednesday.

According to Traian Hristea, the head of the EU Delegation in Yerevan, the two sides are planning “brainstorming” sessions on new formats of their cooperation in the new geopolitical environment.

“The discussions are in the preparatory stage, and we are working with our Armenian partners,” Hristea told reporters. “Very soon we will have a bilateral meeting aimed at preparing a new package of proposals.”

The EU official declined to give concrete dates for such talks. “I think the most important thing will be their substance, rather than the deadline,” he said.

Opposition Demands ‘Addressed By Government’

The Armenian government officially responded to a list of opposition demands on Wednesday ahead of an unprecedented joint rally planned by the country’s leading parties challenging President Serzh Sarkisian.

The government claimed to have fully or partly met some of the 12 demands that were issued by the Prosperous Armenia (BHK), Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun parties as well as the Armenian National Congress (HAK) in June. It cautiously rejected the other ones, saying that their fulfillment is not feasible or requires more time.

Parliament Majority Blocks Changes In Controversial Tax Law

The pro-government majority in Armenia’s parliament rejected on Tuesday an opposition bill that would delay the enforcement of controversial new taxation rules which have sparked angry street protests by small traders.

The National Assembly failed to make a quorum at an extraordinary session forced by the opposition but boycotted by its deputies representing the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). The boycott meant that the assembly could not even debate amendments to an Armenian tax law that were put forward by the four main opposition parties represented in the parliament.

The law in question mandates a single turnover tax for small firms and individual entrepreneurs with annual revenues not exceeding 58 million drams ($140,000). Earlier this year the government pushed through the parliament amendments that cut the turnover tax rate from 3.5 percent to 1 percent.

Armenia Counts On Greek Support For Closer Ties With EU

Armenia hopes that Greece will help it deepen relations with the European Union, President Serzh Sarkisian said on Tuesday after talks with his visiting Greek counterpart, Karolos Papoulias, on Tuesday.

“We reaffirmed our desire to further deepen cooperation between our countries on multilateral planes, including within the framework of the Armenia-EU partnership,” he said in a statement to the press. “I voiced Armenia’s determination to develop our relations with the EU in all possible directions and expressed hope that friendly Greece will support Armenia on this issue.”

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Armenia planning to join EEU on Jan 2 – Russian Ministry

September 30, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Diaspora No Comments
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Armenia intends to join the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) on January 2, RIA Novosti reports, citing the Russian Ministry of Information Development.
A deputy head of the agency’s Department for Economic Cooperation and Customs Union Bodies said that the Kyrgyzstan is amid preparations of a road map which Armenia had earlier elaborated.
The official said that “an accession treaty is now ready”, adding that Armenia will have chances to become an EEU member starting from January 2.
The agreement for creating the Eurasian Economic Union was signed by its founding member states (Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan) on May 29 in Astana (Kazakhstan). Kazakhstan and Belarus are reportedly preparing to ratify the document on October 2 and 7, respectively. Russia ratified the deal on September 26,

New oncology center to open in Nagorno-Karabakh capital

September 30, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Karabakh No Comments
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Plans for launching an oncology center in Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital, Stepanakert, were discussed Monday at a working meeting conducted by the country’s president.
Highlighting the importance of the project, Bako Sahakyan called for active efforts towards building a medical institution corresponding to all international standards.
According to a press release by Nagorno-Karabakh president’s press office, the meeting was also attended by President of the National Assembly Ashot Ghoulyan, Premier Ara Haroutyunyan and other government officials

Source: TertOriginial Article

Early elections could create critical situation in Armenia – Gurgen Arsenyan

September 29, 2014 Armenia No Comments
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Prosperous Armenia parliamentary group member Gurgen Arsenyan is against early elections because he is sure it will create a critical situation in Armenia.Although Armenia’s people have been seeking a change of power, it should be done by means of national elections.
As to his opinion of the regional meetings by the three non-coalition forces, he said:
“Political structures are carrying out political activities, with rallies being one of the instruments, when political figures present their opinions to the public. In communicating with the public, we have to consider a number of factors and understand that the challenges facing you are focus of public attention. One of such factors is the number of attendees at your rallies. A high number of attendees would mean a great number of people are concerned over a particular issue on the agenda.”
As regards people’s desire for a change of power, Mr Arsenyan said.
“The people have been seeking a change of power for a long period because Armenia’s present system has not given any impetus to Armenia’s political, economic or social life. We are witnessing a degradation process, and any country needs regular changes of power. In this case, the ruing circles do not think too much of themselves, do not disregard the people that gave them power, and the opposition comes to power in the country, which is only of benefit to the country.”
As to the possibility of a change of power at the three non-coalition forces’ rally this October, Mr Arsenyan said:
“I have said that a change of power begins with nation-wide elections. The power changes the next day after the elections, and work with the public begins.”
As regards the possibility of early elections, he said:
“As a political figure, individual and Chairman of the United Workers’ Party I have stated I am against early elections. An early election means a critical situation in the country. But such situations are really dangerous for Armenia because Armenia’s geopolitical and regional location is such that any critical situations are undesirable for it.”

Tsarukian’s Party Speaks Of Fresh Elections

September 29, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) has moved closer to publicly demanding regime change in the country during its ongoing nationwide rallies staged jointly with two established opposition parties.

The BHK, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party took their anti-government campaign to Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province at the weekend, holding two rallies in the towns of Sisian and Kapan.

“You may be wondering what prompted the trio to unite, launch a process and hold rallies in the regions and in Yerevan soon now that no [regular] elections are coming up. True, no elections are coming up, but it’s possible to force [snap] elections,” Vartan Oskanian, a senior BHK figure, told hundreds of demonstrators in Kapan.

Yerevan Sets No Deadline On Armenia-Turkey Accords

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Senior Armenian officials declined to clarify on Monday when President Serzh Sarkisian could act on his renewed threats to effectively invalidate Armenia’s 2009 normalization agreements with Turkey.

Sarkisian again denounced Ankara for linking their ratification by the Turkish parliament to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict when he addressed the UN General Assembly in New York last week. He said his administration is now “seriously considering recalling the Armenian-Turkish protocols from the parliament.”

Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian was unwilling to speculate about possible dates for such a recall. “If that already happened, the president of the republic may have announced it,” Nalbandian told reporters. “But he said what he said. We have nothing to add to that yet.”

Armenian Ruling Party Confident Of More Election Wins

September 29, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) remains confident of staying in power as a result of Armenia’s next national elections due in 2017 and 2018, one of its deputy chairmen said on Monday.

Galust Sahakian, who is also the speaker of the Armenian parliament, was asked by journalists to clarify whether he thinks the HHK will hold on to power after those elections. “Of course,” he said. “Do you think that the Republican Party will leave the political arena?”

Eduard Sharmazanov, Sahakian’s deputy and the chief HHK spokesman, similarly stated in April that the party will remain “the leader of Armenia’s political system and scene over the next decade.” “If anybody wants to become president or prime minister of Armenia, they will have to go through [the HHK headquarters located on Yerevan’s] Melik-Adamian Street,” Sharmazanov said in remarks condemned by the opposition.

Open Borders: Armenia’s Trade with Iran and Georgia

September 29, 2014 Armenia, Georgia No Comments
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11:13, September 29, 2014

Armenia has open border with only two countries – Georgia to the north and Iran to the south.

As the below chart shows, Iran has stripped Georgia in terms of exports to Armenia, while the picture is more a mixed bag when it comes to Armenian exports to the two.

During the past seven years, Armenian imports from Iranrecorded their highest level in 2012 at US$219.4 million.

As for Armenian imports from Georgia, during the same period, they reached their highest level in 2013 at US$65.8 million.

The picture is different when it comes to Armenian exports to its two neighbors.

Armenian exports to Georgia reached a peak in 2012 at US$108.5 million.

OSCE to Conduct Monitoring along Artsakh Line of Contact

September 29, 2014 Armenia, Azerbaijan, Karabakh No Comments
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11:41, September 29, 2014

On September30, in accordance with the arrangement reached with the authorities of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, the OSCE Mission will conduct a planned monitoring of the Line of Contact between the armed forces of Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan in the Askeran direction.

From the positions of the NKR Defense Army, the monitoring will be conducted by Field Assistant of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Khristo Khristov (Bulgaria) and staff member of the Office Peter Svedberg.

From the opposite side of the Line of Contact, the monitoring will be conducted by Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk and his Field AssistantYevgeny Sharov (Ukraine).

Convicted Murderer Ends 40 Day Hunger Strike: “My mom pleaded with me to stop”

September 29, 2014 Armenia, Arts No Comments
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12:09, September 29, 2014

Zaruhie Medjlumyan
Edik Baghdasaryan

26 year-old claims he’s innocent and hunger strike was a cry for a fair retrial

Ashot Shahzadyan, sentenced to twenty years for the murder of a fellow villager, told Hetq that he recently ended a forty day hunger strike after his mother pleaded with him.

All along his mother was staging a hunger strike at home in solidarity with her son.

Shahzadyan, a 26 year-old resident of the village of Ayntap, has always claimed his innocence of the charges (the attempted rape and murder of 58 year-old Gayaneh Asoyan), and argues that going on hunger strike was the only option left to get a fair retrial of the case.

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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.