Podcast: Criminal Chronicles

This week’s blog roundup reminds more of criminal chronicles than anything else. At any rate, we have invited Christian Garbis of “Notes from Hairenik” blog for an interview to give you and incentive for listening to this podcast, which would otherwise be only about killings and violence in Armenia.
“5 corpses, 8 wounded in two days”, Samvel Martirosyan is observing. Reporter_arm has more detailed accounts of the killings in Lori region on October 24: “Shots in Spitak and Stepanavan. Looks like a criminal argument in Spitak. Four died. There was an attempt to kill the mayor of Stepanavan with a sharp object. He shot and wounded the offenders”.
Unidiana has eye-witnessed the murder that took place in Yerevan on October 26th: “A car dashed into our backyard in broad daylight. The backyard is usually full of playing children. Shots started coming from within the car… kids were hiding anywhere they could find”.
As a result a 43-year-old man died, one more person was wounded, Kornelij Glas writes, and then “There is another case. On the night of October 25th Kentron police department was notified of sounds of argument and shooting near the “Tsghotik” restaurant”.
“5 unkown people have attacked the house of Armen Avetisyan – former head of RA State Taxation agency on October 25th” Reporter-arm is informing of yet another criminal act, to finalize accounts of the week, full of violence and killings.
Ogostos is sarcastic – commenting on the remarks of Cheif Prosecutor Aghvan Hovsepyan, who said there’s a correlation between abolishing the capital punishment in Armenia and growth in the number of killings, the blogger says.”Right, so it’s again the God damned Europe who doesn’t let us solve our problems?”.
The A1plus blog is commenting on one of the darkest days in modern Armenia’s history. “On October 27, 1999 around five armed people, headed by Nairi Hunanyan, dashed into the NA meeting hall and shot 8 people dead. The court process on the “27” case that lasted around three years, didn’t provide answers to the posed questions and didn’t expell doubts, that the terrorists had outside support”.

Download the 1.62 Mb Podcast from here or listen online, by clicking the player icon below.

A very important stage of Karabakh negotiations

Armenia’s foreign minister Eduard Nalbandian has said negotiations over Nagorno-Karabakh have entered “a very important stage.” But Nalbandian has stressed, that a lot depends on preparadness of Azerbaijani authorities to demonstrate political will for solution.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will host the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia on Sunday for talks over Nagorno-Karabakh
Nalbandian said that after Sunday’s meeting, Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian will head to France for talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy on the Karabakh conflict.
Along with the United States, France and Russia are cochairs of the OSCE’s Minsk Group which is seeking to resolve the conflict.

Azerbaijan army has not gained superiority over Armenian forces

“NATO should carefully review its strategic purpose in working with the militaries of Caucasus states, particularly with respect to unresolved conflicts. It should focus its military cooperation with Azerbaijan strictly on efforts to improve democratic, civilian control of the armed forces and not move beyond the IPAP while Nagorno-Karabakh remains unresolved.”, International Crisis Group have said in their latest report entitled: “Azerbaijan’s Defence Sector Management and Reform”
The think tank have also noted that the U.S. and the EU should move resolution of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict much higher up their agendas and “seek, in cooperation with Russia, to put pressure on both Azer­baijan and Armenia to compromise in line with the principles proposed by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).”
The report also notes, that although Azerbaijan wants to create a strong army to regain Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts, either by improving its negotiating leverage with Armenia or going back to war.
According to the ICG, although Azerbaijan has exponentially increased its military budget, it has not so far gained clear superiority over Armenian forces.
“If the new military is to be not only stronger but also better governed, however, it needs deep reforms to make it less corrupt and personality driven, more transparent and better directed. So far there has been insufficient political will either to do the part that should involve increasing democratic and civilian control or to break the habit of treating the army as above all an instrument with which to protect elite interests.”,-the report has concluded.

Serge Sargsyan says Karabakh resolution possible

Resolution of Karabakh conflict is possible, the president of Armenia Serge Sargsyan said in an interview to Armenian Public TV, at the site of Military manoeuvres held in Artsakh by the Karabakh Self-Defense Army.

“Karabakh resolution is possible”,-president Sargsyan said in the interview,”if Azerbaijan recognizes the right of Karabakh people for self-determination; if Mountainous Karabakh has land border with Armenia and if the International Community and the leading states guarantee the security of Karabakh people”.
Serge Sargsyan’s words come days after the president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev stated in his inaugural address, that Azerbaijan will never accept Karabakh independence.
President Sargsyan also said he found the recent active discussions and public debates in Armenia on the subject of Karabakh resolution “useful” and predicted an even more active phase of discussions on the subject in the future.

Turkish officials will talk about Armenian Genocide with U.S. presidential candidates

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan sent two foreign policy officials to meet the advisors of both U.S. presidential candidates Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain in the United States, Hurriyet daily reported on Tuesday.

Ahmet Davutoglu, chief foreign policy advisor to Erdogan and Suat Kiniklioglu, deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish parliament would convey Turkey’s stance on a number of crucial issues, including PKK terrorism, the so-called Armenian “genocide” claims, Cyprus and other regional problems, to the advisors of both candidates, Hurriyet wrote.
Turkey would also urge the U.S. presidential candidates to listen to Turkish views on the so-called Armenian “genocide” claims, aside from focusing solely on the Armenian claims.
A warmer period began between Turkey and Armenia, who for more than a decade have not had any diplomatic relations over Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan, after Turkish President Abdullah Gul paid a landmark visit to Armenia early September.

Podcast: Karabakh not for sale

Artak Kirakosyan, HIMA blog and Uzogh have commented on the halt of rallies announced by Levon Ter-Petrosyan on October 17 rally in Yerevan.
Unzipped has established a link between Russian president Dmitri Medvedev’s visit to Armenia and recent talks of Karabakh resolution based on “Madrid Principles”.
Pigh has also commented on the rumours, that the Karabakh resolution plan currently on the table of negotiations has a provision on surrendering a number of territories under control of Armenian forces. “Not for sale”, the blogger has commented sparking a flashmob throughout the LiveJournal community.
Download the 25th episode of Armenian Blogosphere podcast from here or listen online by clicking the icon below.

Serious setback of press freedom registered in South Caucasus

Reporters Without Borders international organization has just released its annual press freedom index, compiled annually, which has revealed a serious setback in press freedom in the South Caucasus region.
The index. which is compiled by filling in a questionnaire with 49 criteria that assess the state of press freedom in each country, coveres 173 countries overall. This year’s index has revealed, that the most serious degradation of press freedom in the world has taken place in our region: in Georgia and Armenia.
Armenia, which was on 77-th position on the index last year has slipped down to 102-nd position, most probably due to the introduction of emergency rule on March 1-20, illegal pre-emptive censorship applied in the same period in Yerevan’s publishing houses as well as numerous attacks against journalists and the continous state control of the broadcast sphere. Interestingly, Turkey shares the 102-nd position with us.
A more dramatic fall has been registered in Georgia’s rating: the country was on the rather advanced, 66th position in 2007, but has fallen to 120th position.
Azerbaijan continues to steadily fall in the index: a fall by 11 points was registered this year. From 137th position of last year Azerbaijan is now on the 150th. Iran is again on position 166, thus concluding the picture of restrictive and undemocratic South Caucasian region.
The situation has very slightly improved in Russia with the coming of president Dmitri Medvedev, although, recalling their media coverage of the war in Georgia, I find this rather surprising. An improvement by 3 points was registered here, the country has moved from 144th to 141st slot in the RSF index.
The first slots in the rating are again occupied by Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway. The index is tailed by Myanmar (Burma), Turkmenistan, North Korea, Eritrea.

My Big, Fat, Armenian Wedding! …in Karabakh


An unprecedented wedding ceremony, which married 675 new couples, took place in Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on October 16. The ceremonies took place in St. Ghazanchetsots church of Shoushi and ancient Gandzasar monastery of Martakert. The Karabakh wedding, followed by a solemn dinner and issuance of wedding certificates and wedding gifts in Stepanakert’s republican stadium, was implemented with the initiative of Russian businessman of Karabakh descent – Levon Hairapetyan, who was also the main sponsor of the event.
The couples were presented ‘golden’ banking cards with $2500 worth of AMD on the balance for each new family to spend. The beneficiaries have also thought about future children: following the birth of the first child the family will receive $2000, the second child – $3000, third child – $5000, fourth – $10,000, fifth – $20,000, sixth – $50,000, seventh – $100,000. That’s plenty of reasons for 675 children to be born in Artsakh next year – 2000 reasons starting from the first child 😉
The fact is – Karabakh has a serious population problem, and similar steps are the surest way to tackle it. Earlier this year Hetq published an article which adds another dimension to this story:

All this commotion is not only the result of the planned collective wedding event but also due to the government’s program unveiled in January of this year that calls for providing gifts of 300,000 drams to newly wed couples. To this end the Karabakh government has earmarked 450 million drams out of the 2008 state budget to be allocated to some 1,500 couples. However, it is already apparent that the number of couples that will register to get married this year will exceed this number. This became clear back in April when figures at the NKR National Statistical Agency showed the number of couples registering for marriage at 1,887. This compares to 224 couples during the same period in 2007. Interestingly, a portion of these 1,887 couples have already gotten hitched but the marriages were never properly registered in order that they are able to take advantage of the government’s largesse. In 2007 there were 519 marriages registered in Karabakh and 827 in 2006.

Apart from ensuring record number of marriages and most probably – a boom in next year’s child birthrates, this event will also serve the important purpose of establishing long-lasting relationships between donors and Karabakhis – given the fact, that the beneficiaries of the event are also becoming Godfathers for the newly formed families. No wonder, that the President of Karabakh Bako Sahakyan spoke on the event stressing it’s importance for the country. Overall – this has been the best piece of news I’ve heard so far this year.

Photos via: 517design

Podcast: football, censorship and more…

Football dominated the Armenian blogosphere this week. Virtual discussions focused on the two games of the Armenian football team – both ending in crushing defeats for the Armenian team. Belgium-Armenia 2:0, Bosnia-Armenia 4:1. The scores are painful for the Armenian blogers: Aerial-vortex and Reporter_arm have shared their views.
Life in Armenian Diaspora blog has reflected on Armenia’s football diplomacy in relation to Turkey and the news on the plans to build a new railway connecting Armenia to Iran.

This is great news, as it only has one rail line functioning at the moment, and that is from unreliable Georgia. [] But what is clear is that a new line through Iran is vital for Armenia’s survival and options. Until Armenia has an outlet to the sea, they need to be able to not depend on Turks and Georgians for transportation. The Turks will finally realize that Armenia does have another option and that they’ve missed a big opportunity by not opening the border much earlier. Now Armenia will not be beholden to Turkey’s whims and preconditions. Ever. Or that’s the idea anyway, and they’ll know it. At this point, even if Turkey throws the border gates wide open, the rail project should go ahead.

Unzipped has posted Tigran Paskevichyan’s 10 minute documentary – “Enstrangement”, which was prevented from being screened at Yerevan’s “Moscow” cinema theatre days after another film – by Tigran Khzmalyan this time was also denied the chance to be displayed on the same cinema screen. “Censorship should have no place in Armenia. Censorship should be (and will be) defeated.” – Unzipped says and I so wholeheartedly agree!!!
Pigh is making first steps in the sphere of developing blog-documentaries 🙂 He has posted a photo of the ancient stone with inscriptions estimated to belong to 782 B.C. and used as solid proof to the fact, that Erebuni-Yerevan, the capital of Armenia was found 2790 years ago. As Yerevan celebrates it’s incredible age on October 12 (Rome was found dacades later, on 753 B.C), Pigh posts an extract from Urartu King Argishti’s inscription: “With the Greatness of God Haldi, Son of Menua Argishti found this powerful fortress and gave it the name Erebuni, for the power of the state of Biainili”. Anyway, considering the blogger’s name is also Tigran and the attempt is somewhat ‘documental’, stakes are high his blog will also be banned 🙂
Anyway, the Podcast of all of the above and more, including an interview with the extreemly prolific blogger 517design (who has recently started also a new English language blog – Armenia Discovered)  can be downloaded from here.
You can also listen to the Podcast online by clicking the player icon below:

Needs Assessment of Armenia's Public Television Company

Here is an interesting piece of information from the report – “Haylur” attracts a substantial audience. Audience research by AGB Nielsen and Eurodata placed H1’s news programme as ninth in the list of hte most watched programmes in Armenia in 2007. But viewing appears to have declined in 2008. From a high of 352,000 viewers in February and a market share of 34%, audiences have dropped month by month to 147,000 in June and a share of 22%. We did not have access to statistics for other broadcasters for this period so cannot say whether the drop is specific to PTV or part of a general trend.
However, we did do a spot-check in thee week of our visit to compare H1’s figures with its nearest news rival, Shant TV. On july 15, “Haylur” attracted ratings of 6.2% and a share of 18.1%, behind Shant Tv’s “horizon” which had 10.2% ratings and a 26.7% share. This may have just been a bad day for “Haylur” or a good day for “horizon”. Shant may have had a stronger peak-time programme schedule that evening. But one observer offered the view that Shant’s news was livelier and carried more stories that “are closer to the people”. We are not in a position to make a comparative judgment but it is noteworthy that “Haylur”, while watched extensively throughout the country, is facing stiff competition.
The report is not yet online but it was mentioned during the presentation that it will be available at the OSCE website. The assessment is quite interesting, if nothing else at least for showing that trust towards H1 is declining.

Via Office Zombie

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