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Turkish PM offers first condolences for Armenian massacre

Turkey's prime minister offered his condolences on Wednesday over the massacre of Armenians during World War I, calling it "our shared pain", the country's most significant overture yet over the deeply divisive episode. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statement, on the eve of the 99th anniversary of the start of mass deportations of Armenians in 1915, is the first such overt comment by a Turkish leader over the killings, considered by many as the first genocide of the 20th century.

Armenian president names speaker as new prime minister

YEREVAN (Reuters) - Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan appointed parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamyan as the ex-Soviet republic's new prime minister on Sunday, replacing a six-year veteran who resigned after protests against his pension reform. Former reformist Prime Minister Tigran Sarksyan, who was central bank governor before taking over the government in 2008, stepped down earlier this month after the pension protests and a court ruling declaring part of the reform unconstitutional.

Once a Soviet hub, Armenia looks to revive its tech sector

Once seen as a silicon valley of the Soviet Union, the tiny Caucasus nation of Armenia is hoping the launch of its first tablet computer and smartphone could kickstart a comeback for the country's tech sector. Designed -- and soon set to be constructed -- in Armenia, the ArmPhone and ArmTab devices are seen as a key steppingstone as the landlocked state seeks to overcome crippling trade blockades from its neighbours to become an unlikely industry hub.

Armenia detains two over major heroin haul

Armenia has detained two foreign citizens after security forces discovered almost one metric tonne of heroin allegedly being smuggled from Iran to Turkey. A Georgian truck driver was arrested after border guards found some 927 kilograms of heroin in his vehicle while a Turkish national was detained later, Armenia's National Security Service said. "As a result of a search operation conducted in Yerevan, one of the organisers of the heroin trafficking was detained, a Turkish citizen Osman Ogurlu, 40," the security agency said in a statement released late Sunday.

Majority of Armenians support accession to Customs Union: poll

YEREVAN, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- Nearly two-thirds of Armenians support the country's accession to a Russia-led Customs Union, an opinion poll showed Wednesday. Sixty-four percent of Armenians favor joining the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union, according to the poll conducted by Armenian Marketing Association conducted in October covering 1,067 respondents. Thirty-eight percent of Armenians anticipated economic growth in case of Armenia's accession to the union, the poll showed.

Armenia drops graft probe into ex-minister

Armenian security services said Wednesday that they had dropped a graft probe into an ex-foreign minister after he paid back taxes to settle a case he dismissed as politically motivated. The national security service said it had ended its year-long investigation into money laundering involving the Civilitas Foundation think tank of Vartan Oskanian, a former loyalist-turned-critic of the ruling party, after he agreed to pay almost $50,000 on lesser charges of non-payment of taxes.

Defiant opposition boycotts Armenia leader's inauguration

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian on Tuesday took oath for a second term in a grand inauguration ceremony boycotted by the opposition who defiantly held a rival event of their own. Sarkisian won February elections in the ex-Soviet state but the second placed candidate Raffi Hovannisian alleged mass violations and still insists that he was the true victor.

Loser of Armenia polls extends hunger strike

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian's top challenger in last month's election vowed Thursday to continue his 11-day hunger strike until the ex-Soviet state's leader renounces his win in a vote he claims was rigged. Raffi Hovannisian urged Sarkisian, due to be inaugurated on April 9, not to take "a false oath." "Only over my dead body can he lay his hand on the constitution and the Bible." Sarkisian "must reject office on April 9 or put forward an adequate solution of the political crisis," Hovannisian told journalists.

Armenia's top court upholds re-election of Sarksyan

YEREVAN (Reuters) - Armenia's Constitutional Court on Thursday rejected claims by two unsuccessful presidential candidates that a February 18 vote was rigged, upholding the re-election of incumbent Serzh Sarksyan. The main election body had said there were no violations during the vote that could have influenced its outcome, while international monitors said the ballot was an improvement on previous ones although lacked real competition.

Armenia polls free of violations: election commission

Armenia's election authority said Monday there were no serious violations in polls last week that re-elected President Serzh Sarkisian, but the defeated candidate said he was considering legal action to challenge the result. "Serzh Azatovich Sarkisian has been elected President of the Republic of Armenia," announced the head of the Central Elections Commission, Tigran Mukuchyan. Sarkisian took 58.64 percent of the votes, against 36.74 percent to his main challenger, Raffi Hovannisian.
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