Friday, 7 October 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian...Armenia Needs Faster Growth!!!

RFE/RL Report
Armenia Needs Faster Growth, Says New Minister
October 04, 2016
Sargis Harutyunyan 

Economic growth registered in Armenia in the last few years is not 
fast enough to ease hardship and raise living standards, the newly 
appointed Finance Minister Vartan Aramian said on Tuesday. 

"In order to be able to improve our socioeconomic indicators, we need 
to have an economic growth rate of at least 4-4.5 percent," Aramian 
told reporters. "Growth rates higher than that would naturally mean 
more rapid betterment." 

The Armenian economy has expanded relatively slowly after a global 
financial crisis plunged it into a deep recession in 2009. According 
to official statistics, economic growth slowed from 3.6 percent in 
2014 to 3 percent in 2015 and is on course to ease further this year 
due to an ongoing recession in Russia, a key trading partner. 

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian put a brave face on the 
country's macroeconomic performance in the last 18 months when he 
announced his resignation on September 8. He argued that rising 
exports enabled the domestic economy to continue to grow despite 
falling multimillion-dollar remittances from Russia and a resulting 
fall in consumption. 

Aramian, who was appointed to the new Prime Minister Karen 
Karapetian's cabinet two weeks ago, seemed less impressed with those 
growth figures. "We've had a [macroeconomic] shock for two years and 
need to recover from that shock," he said. "That should happen in 

"I think that we will be able to move forward with faster growth 
afterwards," added the minister. He stopped short of making concrete 
growth projections for the near future. 

The sluggish growth seems the main reason why Armenian tax authorities 
will likely fail to meet their revenue target for 2016. The 
anticipated shortfall might in turn explain why Karapetian's 
government plans to cut public spending next year. 

President Serzh Sarkisian cited the need to improve the socioeconomic 
situation in Armenia through more radical reforms when he explained on 
September 8 his decision to replace Abrahamian by Karapetian, a 
technocrat and longtime business executive. He said the new cabinet 
should specifically focus on the domestic business environment. 

Karapetian pledged to embark on such "systemic" changes" shortly after 
his appointment. 

Opposition politicians are highly skeptical about the promised 
reforms, however, saying that the new premier will not end tax 
authorities' privileged treatment of wealthy businesspeople connected 
to the government. They say that the Sarkisian administration will 
continue to heavily rely on the so-called "oligarchs" for political 

RFE/RL Report
New Defense Minister Wants Bigger Role For Armenian Army
October 05, 2016
Ruzanna Stepanian
Armenia's armed forces should play a greater role in the county's
social and economic life, the newly appointed Defense Minister Vigen
Sargsian said on Wednesday.

Sargsian, who managed the Armenian presidential staff until this week,
made a case for building a "nation-army" in his first public comments
made in the new capacity.

"Given the environment our state is in, the region, the existing
political challenges, it's obvious that a large army will remain part
of our reality," he told the Armenian parliament. "Therefore, we need
to understand two important things. First, how to ensure that the army
 . turns from being a very heavy burden on our state and economy into a
leader and locomotive of that state and economy?"

"That means the entire population, not just those who serve in the
armed forces, should have many scientific, economic, industrial or
other projects related to the army," he said. "In that sense, the army
can become a solution, rather than a problem."

"And the second important component is that the army must turn from a
mere mirror of the society into a school and workshop of the
society. That is, a soldier demobilized from the army should be much
more patriotic, better educated, stronger and combat-ready than those
young people who are called up by the armed forces," Sargsian added
during the Armenian government's question-and-answer session in the
National Assembly.

The U.S.-educated minister did not give further details of the
transformation advocated by him. He said only that both President
Serzh Sarkisian and Prime Minister Karen Karapetian agree with his
vision for national defense.

Sargsian, 41, was named defense minister on Monday as part of a
government reshuffle that followed the September 8 resignation of
Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian. Introducing him to Armenian Defense
Ministry staff, President Sarkisian said the new minister will have to
focus on a broader range of tasks, including "military-political
diplomacy," military education and social security of military

"The defense minister must deal very little with day-to-day activities
of troops," the president said. 
Second plane carrying humanitarian aid to war-torn Syria takes 
off from Armenia
05 Oct 2016 
The 2nd plane cartrying humanitarian aid for people in war-torn Syria 
took off from Armenia today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports.

Vardan Makarian, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration and 
Ivan Volynkin, Russian Ambassador to Armenia, were at the airport 
to see off the plane.

The Russian Defense Ministry helps deliver the humanitarian aid to Syria. 
The first military transport aircraft Il-76 of the Russian Defense Ministry 
delivered to the Hmeymim airbase about 40 tons of canned foods, 
vegetables, baked goods, flour, sugar. 
Erdogan’s anti-Armenian insult condemned in CoE report

The Council of Europe’s human rights body European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has reported its concern about increasing hate speech and violence against religious, sexual, and ethnic minority groups in Turkey, indicating that the usage of hate speech by senior representatives of the state was a major concern.

“ECRI is highly concerned about the fact that hate speech is expressed increasingly by officials and other public figures, including senior representatives of the state and some members of the opposition,” said the report released by ECRI on Oct 4, Hurriyet Daily News reports.

Referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s televised statement in August 2014, “They have said I am Georgian […] they have said even uglier things – they have called me – pardon my language – Armenian, but I am a Turk,” the report follows with several recommendations.

“ECRI strongly recommends that officials and political leaders at all levels stop using hate speech. The parliament and the government should adopt codes of conduct prohibiting hate speech and the authorities should encourage political parties to do likewise,” it said.

Examining the current situation in terms of legal provisions and reflecting the implementation process of the existent legal provisions and instruments in Turkey, ECRI indicated that the negative impact of hate speech damages social cohesion and underlined the problem of impunity regarding hate crimes due to the fact that there is no strong official reaction to such rhetoric.

“There is even reason to conclude that hate speech legislation is used to silence vulnerable groups,” the report said, indicating that disciplinary measures and verdicts against law enforcement officers remained limited and many alleged hate crimes were concluded without adequate investigation and sentencing.

Referring to data transmitted by Turkish officials, ECRI underlined that “658 cases were prosecuted in 2014 (compared with 535 cases in 2013 and 497 in 2012) and 202 received sentences (compared with 334 cases in 2013 and 158 in 2012).”

ECRI also emphasized that hate speech was widely used by public figures and intellectuals and in media coverage. Referring to the Hrant Dink Foundation’s annual reports, ECRI reported that hate speech in Turkish print media had substantially increased in recent years. According to the report, the number of hate speech items recorded in the last four reports rose from 141 to 313. The report concluded that the most frequent arenas for hate speech were ethnic origin (46.98 percent), religion (20.92 percent), national identity (13.2 percent), sexual orientation (5 percent), social status (4.69 percent) and sexual identity (2.87 percent).

Discussing how public hate speech has deepened existing divisions and damaged social cohesion, ECRI referred to new research showing that 70 percent of respondents had negative views and attitudes toward Jews and Armenians. Some 39.1 percent had similarly negative attitudes toward Arabs, while another 35 percent had similar distaste for Europeans.

In response to ECRI recommendations, Turkey issued an answer to CoE officials that was included in the report. Indicating that the Law on a Turkish Human Rights and Equality Institution was adopted by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Ankara said: “The law provides a comprehensive legal framework for the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, color, language, religion, faith, philosophical and political views, ethnic origin, sect, wealth, birth, civil status, condition of health, disability and age. The ground ethnic origin is included explicitly in the law.”

Within the scope of the related legislation, the police forces, without making any discrimination among citizens, are responsible for making a thorough, diligent and swift investigation and referring to judicial authorities.”
[what a joke!]
Armenian Teens Become World Chess Champions

KHANTY MANSIYSK, Russia—Armenian teenagers Manuel Petrosyan and Haik Martirosyan have won the title in the World Chess Federation’s World Youth Championship in their respective categories.

According to the official FIDE 2016 website, Martirosyan won first place in the boys “Under 16” category, beginning with seven consecutive wins and securing the gold in the final round by beating Tran Minh Thang from Vietnam.

Petrosyan achieved the winning title for the boys “Under 18” category by beating Russian rival Maksim Vavulin for the second time— his first time at the European Championship, then World Championship.

The World Youth U14, U16, U18 Championships 2016 took place in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia and ran from September 20-October 4.
The Guardian lists Armenia’s Vahan Bichakhchyan among 
60 best young talents in world football
05 Oct 2016 

The Guardian has included young Armenian footballer Vahan Bichakhchyan in the list of 60 of the best young talents in world football.

“Considered by some to be as talented as his countryman Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Bichakhchyan was handed his senior debut at the age of 16 for Shirak. He came on as a substitute in the Europa League first qualifying round second leg against Georgia’s Dila Gori and scored a screamer to help the team progress to the next stage. The goal made him the youngest Armenian to score in Europe,” The Guardian writes.

“Used mainly as right winger, his style is similar to Kevin De Bruyne’s: he has a good eye for goal and is always ready to take on opponents one-on-one, also reminding observers of a young Wayne Rooney. Bichakhchyan had, by mid-September, scored two goals and provided one assist in eight matches in this debut season for Shirak and had precisely the same stats for Armenia Under-19s after being considered too good for the Under-17s,” the paper writes. 

BBC News
Kim Kardashian robbery: How do you sell high-profile diamonds?
4 October 2016 

Mrs Kardashian West posted a picture on Twitter just three days before the robbery showing off a large diamond

Kim Kardashian's robbers are reported to have made off with $10m (€8.96m; £7.84m) worth of jewels, including a $4m dollar diamond ring. But how easy is it to sell on diamonds belonging to one of the world's most famous people?

A stone worth several million euros is likely to have been laser marked, said Neil Duttson, a top diamond trader based in Hatton Garden, London.

The laser makes an invisible mark on the girdle - the side - of the stone, but it isn't foolproof. "The mark can be polished off by someone who knows what they're doing," said Mr Duttson.

A $4m stone would still bring unwanted attention on the market though, so it's likely it would be cut into smaller stones. That would lower the overall value of the original, but it would also make new, untraceable diamonds.

"Once it's been recut that's it, the pieces are invisible, gone for life," said Mr Duttson. "They probably already have someone removing the stones and going to work as we speak."

The stone would probably go first to a known handler, lined up in advance, said Lee Henderson, an intelligence officer for diamond security company SaferGems. Unless it was stolen specifically to order, most dealers "wouldn't go near the original stone with a barge pole," he said.

French police suspect specific stones may have been targeted after being seen on social media. Mrs Kardashian West posted a picture on Twitter just three days before the robbery showing off a large diamond, reportedly a gift from her husband, the rapper Kanye West. Tweet

"Clearly when you have a star like Kim Kardashian who has, I think, more than 48 million followers on Twitter ... I think this could have happened abroad just as easily as in Paris," Johanna Primevert, chief spokeswoman for the Paris police department, told the Associated Press news agency.

"It was really the celebrity who was targeted, with possessions that had been seen and noticed via social media, and it was these goods that the attackers targeted."

The gold settings around the stones would probably be discarded, said Mr Duttson. Melting down that amount of gold is unlikely to be worth the trouble, and trying to sell them in a pawn shop would be a rookie mistake.

It would be "horrendously difficult" for the police to recover the stone, he added. "Unless you're really stupid and you buried it in your back garden then had a big argument with your wife about it in front of the neighbours, it probably won't ever be found."

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