Economy, Society: The Week in The Armenian Blogosphere

Armenia survived the sharp fall in USD exchange rate two weeks ago, and the Armenian Blogosphere comfortably forgot about it, although the rate of USD is now much lower than it was before the sharp fall during the weekend of November 24-25th. At any rate, the one of the rare economic news came from Martuni or Bust!!! blog:

The airport of Stepanakert will be reoperated by autumn 2008, President Bako Sahakyan said in yesterday’s news conference. “Most people we met confessed they do not visit Karabakh often because no planes fly there.”
The president said as of today the airport of Stepanakert can receive only helicopters. He said soon the available equipment will be installed.

That’s the good news, as far as I’m concerned. As to the next part, I’m somewhat troubled, try to guess why (I’ve highlighted in bold, so you have comfortable time, guessing :))?

There will be no international flights for the time being because the permission of Azerbaijan is required for that. “For the time being, we will launch Stepanakert-Yerevan and Yerevan-Stepanakert flights. Air travel will help revive not only tourism but also life in the country,” the president said.

Right, so much for the independent Artsakh Republic – no flights without the permission of Azerbaijan. And although that’s the objective reality with unrecognised republics, you’d expect the President of an Independent entity, which has nothing of pride, except its independence, to at least skip over such uncomfortable statements, no?
Grant eaters are next on the agenda – the World Bank corruption scandal is still on the radar for Bloggers, and by now this has become a blogging success-story, with British whistleblower Bruce Tasker consistently following the story on his blog – Blowing the World Bank Whistle and Oneworld Multimedia forcing the whistle to be heard also by the mainstream media, after posting repeatedly about the gross misuse of a $30 million World Bank loan that was meant to upgrade Armenia’s battered water infrastructure. This time it is the Freedom Fighter highlighting yet another dimension of the story:

Corruption is discussed quite often, and usually, speaking of corruption, people mean local self-government, police officers, higher education institutions or other spheres of daily life, where, corruption is of course abundant. However, the scale of these cases of corruption is incomparable with corruption reigning among state and non state officials engaged in financial relations with international structures and organizations. We are speaking of dozens of millions there, and in the end, all those eaten and gobbled loans will have to be paid for by US!

Eating, and not gobbling, food, and not millions, is the focus of One day… blog. Christina says restaurant and noisy public places are pleasant.

Whether it is the food and full stomach that transform us like that, or something else, but we surely become kinder at places, where there are food and more people, and that is a fact…

Zarchka from Life Around Me has discoveries of her own, exploring mobile phones and cars in the Armenian-traffic-jam-constantly-stuck-type-of-setting:

So now I change my opinion – mobile phones must have as much functions and be as entertaining as possible in order to have something to busy yourself when you are stuck in a van with dumb faces looking at each other and shoutings, signals and noises outside, while you can put on your headphones and enjoy the mess outside listening to your favourite music, unless something more interesting is happening inside the “marshrutka” ;).
And just on that, cars must also be very comfortable with all the necessary equipments inside, so that you do not have to get frozen and nervous when waiting in a jam and giving way to stubborn drivers who think they’ll run their turn to break the congestion.

A much less pleasant discovery is reported by Notes from Hairenik – in the post, Beware of Gasoline Robbers:

Locking gas tank caps are a must in this country, which I found out the hard way this morning. About 27 litters—10,000 dram worth—of premium-grade gasoline was siphoned from my car’s tank last night. I was lucky to make it to the gas station this morning.

Well, if something is Armenian, it isn’t necessarily bad, despite the ironic/pessimistic tone of the two previous posts. On the contrary, it is usually just great! Ogostos can happily convince you, sharing her impressions of Naregatsi Cafe in Istanbul (and I can further enforce that view, having visited the site especially to attest, that the blogger’s report is accurate :)):

…in the very centre of Istanbul, on the main entertainment-shopping pedestrian street Istiklal, there is a cafe “Naregatsi” – on the second floor, above a kebab-shop. On the door of the cafe called “Naregatsi” there is also a further clarification – “Der-Zor City”.
Cafe Naregatsi/Der-Zor City belongs to the artist-cartoonist Sarkis Pechadji and is one of the most unusual place on earth. Because it is not just a cafe, but also an art-gallery.

One last thing about Armenian stuff – Nareg from Life in the Armenian Diaspora is “a bit over-philosophising” perhaps, but, anyway:

I mean, all the Diasporans I’ve met in Armenia have been the kind for whom coming to Armenia is a big deal. They’ve all been wowed by the Hayrenik, and just about all of them had this sentiment of wanting to be a part of it, really a part of it, help build it and re-build it and make it shine and so on… And in Armenia, that’s the impression you get that, in all the far-flung communities, day in and day out, all the Armenians are thinking is, “How can we help the Homeland today ?”.
But that’s not true, I find now. So, I’ve experienced this shift, where I’ve discovered that some people can be Armenian outside of Armenia and very wholly identify themselves as such. And that’s it. There’s nothing underneath it or beyond it. They’re just regular Hovhanneses, leading your average life, and they happen to be Armenian and they are Armenian. I honestly hadn’t expected it.

Right, this is not a blog-post, this is a Discovery Channel, don’t you think? 🙂 Thanks to all the Bloggers out there with their wonderful discoveries this week 😉

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant