Magazine for Christian Arabs fills market niche

The Daily Star, Lebanon
July 29 2004

Magazine for Christian Arabs fills market niche
Al-Maghtas neither denominational nor theological, focuses on
socioeconomic issues

By Daoud Kuttab
Special to The Daily Star

AMMAN: For the first time in decades Christian Arabs in Jordan and
Palestine have their own magazine. With two issues under its belt –
the second came out last week – Al-Maghtas (The Baptismal) seems to
be filling a gap in the market.

The 40-page glossy color magazine, in Arabic, is produced in Amman
and features interviews, articles, and in the first edition even some
controversy.

One article about emigration by Reverend John Noor, the secretary of
the bishops of Jordan, says there are between 10-15 million Christian
Arabs living in the Middle East. Most of the region’s Christian Arabs
live in Egypt (7-12 million) and Sudan, 600,000 live in Iraq, 165,000
in Jordan, 900,000 in Syria, 1.3 million in Lebanon, 50,000 in
Palestine and 130,000 in Israel. Noor estimates that 4 million more
live in the diaspora.

Unlike the majority of internationally available Christian magazines,
Al-Maghtas is neither denominational nor theological. It deals with
socio-economic conditions focusing on Christian Arabs on both banks
of the Jordan. The new magazine will work on strengthening the desire
of the Christian Arab community to stay in their homeland and be a
bridge within the community and to the outside world.

Christian Arabs refuse to be called a minority, they consider
themselves part of the Arab world and partners with their Muslim
brethren in all the troubles that face the region today.

The first edition’s editorial sets out the magazine’s goals and
vision: “We are proud of both our Arab nationality and our Christian
belief … We plan to honor those in our community who deserve such
praise so that we can provide our younger generation with role
models.”

Philip Madanat, the magazine’s editor, says the strength of
Al-Maghtas is in its exclusivity for the Christian community and its
avoidance of theology.

“We are extra careful to include individuals from all Christian
denominations in our society and made a decision not to allow any
discussion of Christian beliefs and theology so as not to cause anger
to the followers of any denomination,” he says.

Among the feature stories in the magazine is an interview with
leading Jordanian businessman and philanthropist, Elia Nuqol, CEO of
the Fine tissue company. Widad Kawar, the internationally known
collector of Palestinian and Jordanian dresses and folklore, is
profiled in another piece.

An investigation into the internal struggles between three Christian
churches over the right to the keys to the Nativity Church in
Bethelem has raised the most questions amongst the Christian
community. The story which presents all points of view deals with a
situation which began during the Israeli siege of the church in April
2002 when one of the priests needed to take out an injured
Palestinian. While the three churches – Orthodox, Armenian and Latin
– are said to have copies of the key, it is understood that ownership
of the key (for symbolic reasons) goes to the Orthodox. According to
the story, the Latin priest who didn’t have access to the key
belonging to his denomination borrowed the key from another priest.
Fearing that this would have long-term consequences, the Greek
Orthodox church quickly changed the lock. leaving the keys of the
other two churches useless, and creating a major incident in which
the mayor of Bethlehem Hanna Naser and even Palestinian Authority
Chairman Yasser Arafat, were brought in to settle the dispute.

Christian Arabs, while small in numbers, feature prominently in Arab
politics, art and culture. From Gibran Khalil Gibran to modern-day
artists and politicians, the history of Arabs is full of Christians
who have left their mark in history and culture.

Latin priest Hanna Kildani writes of modern day Christian Arabs in
Palestine and Jordan in an interesting and detailed book which is
reviewed in the latest edition of Al-Maghtas. For the most part,
Christian Arabs have downplayed their Christianity as a way of
becoming accepted and featuring highly in the predominantly Muslim
culture of the region.

Countering this view, Al-Maghtas runs a review of another book issued
by the Royal Jordanian Center for religious studies that includes an
alphabetical glossary of the names of prominent Christian Arabs in
the various Islamic historical periods.

On the lighter side, the magazine, which hopes to be a source of
information and entertainment for the community, prints photographs
of Christian Arabs in Jordan and Palestine at various social events.

The recently excavated site of Al-Maghtas, from which the magazine
takes its name, on the eastern bank of the Jordan River, is featured
in various stories and photos. The back page of the magazine includes
a large picture of Jordan’s King Abdullah and the Pope during the
Pontiff’s recent visit to the baptismal site on the bank of the
Jordan River.

In its second edition, Al-Maghtas reflects a more courageous approach
in dealing with some traditional taboos in Christianity. In its
editorial, the magazine calls on religious leaders to do away with
the baptismal pools and instead to use the Jordan River’s baptismal
location. In another article the issue of Christian education in
schools is dealt with extensively with a call for a serious effort to
follow through with the efforts to get this issue implemented. A long
interview with Greek Orthodox Palestinian priest Atallah Hanna covers
three pages and includes a criticism of the Church hierarchy’s
controversial sales and rentals of properties and lands to Israelis
in Palestine and Israel.

Jordanian government spokeswoman Asma Khader is given the cover story
with a long interview that talks about her birth in the Palestinian
village of Zababdeh and follows her legal and human rights career
with her special work in defending Jordanian and Arab women. Two
pages are dedicated to excerpts from an award winning book by former
Jordanian Health Minister Ashraf Kurdi which deals with Christian
Arab doctors before the advent of Islam.

Madanat says Al-Maghtas still faces some legal obstacles with the
Jordanian government’s Department of Publications refusing to either
issue or reject the request for a license. Jordanian law stipulates
that if the government doesn’t respond in 30 days to a request for a
license then the request is considered de facto approved. The absence
of a de jur license has hampered distribution and advertising
efforts.

The initial response of Jordanian and Palestinian Christians to the
new magazine has been positive. Many have expressed that the magazine
has given them a sense of identity and resolved the issue of who they
are and the fact that they can be both proud Arab nationals without
compromising their own Christian faith.

1st Russian Rail Consignment Leaves Caspian Port For Iran

Tehran Times, Iran
July 29 2004

1st Russian Rail Consignment Leaves Caspian Port For Iran

MOSCOW (IRNA) – In an official ceremony attended by the Russian Prime
Minister Mikhail Fradkov, the first consignment of goods transported
by railway left the Russian coast of Caspian Sea on Wednesday for
Iran within the framework of the North-South International Transport
Corridor.

The ceremony was attended by a number of Russian officials including
managing director of the Russian Railways, Genaddy Fadyev, his
Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Sa’id Nejad, ambassadors of several
countries to Russia and Iran’s charges d’affaires in Moscow.

Meanwhile, the new railway line connecting Yandyki station to Olya
port was inaugurated. Speaking at the ceremony, Fadyev underlined the
significance of making Yandyki-Olya railway line operational and
said, “Given the remarkable reduction in the expenses and time of
shipment of goods, more consignments will be shipped via North-South
Corridor in future.”

Turning to the low cost of shipping goods between Asia and Europe via
this corridor, he noted that transit of commodities via Iran will be
the most cost-effective, given that the route links Asia to Russia
and Europe, in particular northern Europe.

The 49-km railway line between Olya port on the Caspian coast and
Yandyki railway station connects the port city to the country’s
railway network.

The project cost three billion roubles, equivalent to 103.44 million
dollars. The related fund was included in Russia’s transportation
budget.

The North-South Corridor is chaired on a rotation basis by one of its
three founders: Iran, Russia and India. Iran chairs the corridor in
2004.

Seven countries including Iran, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Belarus,
Tajikistan and Oman have access to the corridor according to the
agreement.

Meanwhile, applications of Ukraine, Syria, Azerbaijan, Armenia and
Bulgaria for membership in the treaty are currently being examined.

Turkey also recently applied for membership in the North-South
corridor.

Development of this international corridor will facilitate shipment
of goods between Asian and European states via the shortest route and
at lower cost compared to the Suez Canal.

The Qazvin-Astara railway project, which was proposed by Fadyev to
his Iranian counterpart during his visit to Tehran in early spring,
is one of the projects targeting the development of North-South
Corridor.

Putting the cost of the project, which is to be financed by Russia,
at 177 million dollars, he noted that Russian engineers are now
working it out. He added that a tripartite Russian, Iranian and Azeri
consortium is now being established to implement the project.

At the end of a two-day meeting in Moscow on May 21, the heads of
railway companies from Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan signed a
tripartite memorandum of understanding (MOU) on expansion of railway
cooperation.

According to the MoU, they reached agreement on forming an
international railway consortium for implementing the project on the
railway due to link Qazvin to Astara via Rasht.

FM concerned over Azeri president’s announcement

ArmenPress
July 28 2004

FM CONCERNED OVER AZERI PRESIDENT ANNOUNCEMENTS

YEREVAN, JULY 28, ARMENPRESS: ” If it were a simple public speech
made by Azeri president concerning domestic politics we wouldn’t have
reacted. But this time he addressed Azerbaijan’s ambassadors and this
rises serious concerns. This one indicates that in reality Azerbaijan
is not interested in a peaceful regulation of the Karabagh conflict
and pins its hopes on a forced solution,” Armenian foreign ministry
press secretary Hamlet Gasparian said, commenting on a recent speech
by Ilham Aliyev addressed to his ambassadors in which he had said
that if negotiations were fruitless Azerbaijan would use all means to
liberate its territories, including military force.
“We have stated that in case of any attempt to resolve Karabagh
conflict by force means the consequences will be disastrous for the
whole region and for Azerbaijan in the first place,” FM press
secretary said.

Central Bank to register new commercial bank

ArmenPress
July 28 2004

CENTRAL BANK TO REGSITER NEW COMEMRCIAL BANK

YEREVAN, JULY 28, ARMENPRESS: Tigran Sarkisian, the governor of
Armenia’s Central Bank, said July 27 that theBank has agreed to
register a new commercial bank with Swiss capital. He said the new
bank-ArmSwiss Invest and Trust Bank, will most likely start operating
later this year. Its constituent capital is 3.3 billion of Armenian
drams.
He said the new bank will be dealing with providing VIP services,
conducting transactions at world markets and pursue also an
investment policy. It is also supposed to offer new banking tools for
the domestic banking sector, which Sarkisian said are not offered by
any of the local commercial banks and “this makes the new bank
interesting.”
Sarkisian also predicted that by the end of the year one of the
leading commercial banks may be re-sold or a merger of banks may
occur.

US, Armenian teachers develop online teaching programs

ArmenPress
July 28 2004

US, ARMENIAN TEACHERS DEVELOP ONLINE TEACHING PROGRAMS

YEREVAN, JULY 28, ARMENPRESS: The Business Center of the American
University of Armenia hosted today a presentation of some 20 online
education programs, created jointly by Armenian and 22 US teachers
from 15 states during last week.
The US teachers arrived in Armenia on July 20 as part of a program
of teachers exchange, implemented by Project Harmony organization.
Some 22 Armenian teachers will visit the USA in October to learn
about creating and application of online education programs.
Sharing their impressions about spending a week in Armenian
schools, the US teachers said they were impressed by the Armenian
secondary education system. Project harmony has helped establish
computer classes in around 270 schools across Armenia.

BAKU: Pundit Says Govm’t, people should solve problems themselves

Yeni Musavat, Baku in Azeri
26 Jul 04 p 5

Azeri pundit says government, people should solve problems themselves

Azeri opposition analyst Elxan Mehdiyev has criticized the people for
the current regime in the country. In an interview with Yeni Musavat
newspaper, he blamed the government for the regress in relations with
Turkey and NATO, the reluctance to integrate into NATO and the
dependence on the USA and Russia which has isolated Turkey from the
Karabakh resolution process. But he also added that NATO ignored
Azerbaijan’s Karabakh problem and regarded it as the problem of
Armenia as well. The analyst urged the people and government to
resolve its problems and not to demand that other countries and
international organizations release the occupied lands. The following
is an excerpt from an Elsad Pasasoy report by Azerbaijani newspaper
Yeni Musavat on 26 July headlined “No one has the moral rights to
blame Turkey”, subheaded “Foreigners asked the Azerbaijani expert
where Azerbaijan’s oil dollars are being channelled”, “Elxan
Mehdiyev: ‘Azerbaijan is not ahead of Armenia at all in relations
with NATO'”; subheadings inserted editorially:

The plight of Nagornyy Karabakh and other occupied districts
continues to be a priority which the Azerbaijani public is concerned
about. Our conversation with Elxan Mehdiyev, head of the centre for
peace and conflict resolution [and aide to the opposition Musavat
Party leader], was devoted to this problem. Elxan bay [form of
address] attended the international conference on the new US policy
and NATO’s security policy in the Black Sea basin held in Bucharest
last week.

Mehdiyev delivered a speech on the military and security policy in
the Caucasus at the conference attended by officers and military
security experts from Europe, the Balkans and the US command in
Europe. First, we asked Mehdiyev to tell us about the event.

USA, Russia against Turkey’s dominance in the Caucasus

[Mehdiyev] At the conference, the main attention was devoted to the
Nagornyy Karabakh problem during the discussion of conflicts in the
Caucasus. I said in my speech that Turkey had been artificially
sidelined from the co-chairmanship in the OSCE Minsk Group over this
problem and that the interests of the USA and Russia coincided in
this issue. Because Americans and Russians do not want Turkey to be a
co-chair. Actually, Turkey is directly an integral part of this
conflict and its interests in the resolution of the conflict are
natural. No results were achieved to resolve the problem since Turkey
had been artificially sidelined from the process.

To recap, all sides to the conflict admitted a peace plan drawn up by
Russia, Turkey and the USA in 1993 for the first time in the history
of the conflict. However, the USA is not interested in Turkey’s
mediation. Washington is exerting pressure on Turkey to establish
bilateral ties with Armenia and is trying to distance it from the
Karabakh problem. Armenians also want to have relations with Turkey
in a form in which the Nagornyy Karabakh problem is not taken into
account. They want the problem of Nagornyy Karabakh and other
occupied lands not to be a subject of Turkish-Armenian relations.
It’s clear to us that if Turkey establishes bilateral ties with
Armenia then the Karabakh problem will be put on the back burner.

An interesting situation has arisen. The USA and Russia are against
Turkey’s dominance in the Caucasus.

By establishing full cooperation with the Caucasus countries through
bilateral ties in the military and security spheres, the USA is
making these countries dependent on it.

Azerbaijan, NATO interests do not always coincide

[Correspondent] How do you assess Azerbaijan’s relations with NATO?
Did you include this issue in your speech?

[Mehdiyev] I think that our interests and NATO’s do not coincide
everywhere. Because the number one security issue for us is the
liberation of Azerbaijani lands and the destruction of the Armenian
armed forces which are deployed on this territory. But NATO is
ignoring this issue. In addition, it is developing military
cooperation with aggressor Armenia and Azerbaijan on the same level
and describes the aggression as a problem between the two sides. This
kind of approach to the problem’s resolution strengthens aggressor
Armenia’s position and policy to occupy the lands in the region in a
military way. Therefore, I said if NATO wanted realistic peace in the
Caucasus, then it should have done the same in the Caucasus that it
had done in Yugoslavia. However, I added that I was not so naive to
believe that NATO would bomb Armenia and repeat the Yugoslav events
there. But NATO should at least keep distance from relations with
Armenia and lay down its conditions before this country. It does not
do so. Moreover, it is trying to get Azerbaijan to develop military
cooperation with Armenia. I said Azerbaijan regards such a position
as immoral.

The participants in the event think that it’s Azerbaijan’s problem
that its lands have been occupied over a decade despite the fact that
it has large human and natural resources and no-one should be blamed
for this. I blame no-one as well. But I said peace could be achieved
in the region soon if NATO adhered to a fair position on the problem.
I do not blame international organizations for this like many people
in Azerbaijan.

They unequivocally asked where the oil dollars are being channelled
and why small Armenia is keeping the lands of big Azerbaijan under
occupation. As we know all these funds go into the pockets of clan
members and the regime in Azerbaijan has no plan, wish or will to
liberate the lands. The oil dollars would be useful when they are
used for measures to liberate the occupied lands. The regime’s
representatives have their own problems. The latest statistics show
that Armenia is developing more strongly through different ways and
its economy has reached the highest growth in the CIS. Moreover,
Armenia is modernizing its military forces. But Azerbaijan has not
purchased a single tank over the latest seven or eight years as [late
ex-President] Heydar Aliyev said last year.

[Correspondent] Did you ask the participants in the conference what
is the secret of an equal stance on Azerbaijan, which has taken the
path of integrating into Europe and Armenia, and which is playing the
role of Russia’s puppet?

Azerbaijan not trying to integrate into NATO

[Mehdiyev] Azerbaijan is not actually trying to integrate into NATO
and become a member of this organization. The owners of the regime
have repeatedly stated this and NATO also knows this very well.
Relations with NATO regressed after the dynastic regime was set up.
Because Russia, which has great opportunities of influence on the
dynastic regime, is against Azerbaijan’s close military cooperation
with the USA and NATO. Azerbaijan’s attitude to NATO is indefinite.
Azerbaijan has never resolutely expressed its position on this.
Despite the fact that Heydar Aliyev expressed his position on this
last year, the current regime’s owner has given up this stance and
said that the issue of NATO membership was not on the agenda. The
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry also issued an official statement on
this.

Cooperation which Azerbaijan and Armenia established with NATO is on
the same level and there is no difference. Azerbaijan is not ahead of
Armenia in any index in relations with NATO. Those who say that
Azerbaijan is closer to NATO than Armenia are mistaken. Armenia has
been taking part in all events as well. Armenia hosted NATO’s
large-scale event last year. This event will be held in Baku this
year. It might be held in Armenia next year. Armenia is leading its
policy mainly in line with its interests. It has built up its
relations with NATO to a high level and is developing private
relations with Russia. Armenia is conducting its policy in line with
its interests. But Azerbaijan is continuing its policy to preserve
the regime. Unlike these two countries, Georgia has resolutely
expressed its wish to enter NATO and there is a strong progress in
this sphere. The Georgian army has been fitted to NATO standards and
has great support from the political viewpoint. Azerbaijan is mainly
located in a security vacuum. This country’s policy is a policy of
indefinite security. It is more correct to describe Azerbaijan’s
policy as “the policy preserving the regime” .

[Passage omitted: Ilham Aliyev continues policy of his father just
airing slogans about the liberation of Karabakh, USA not to resolve
the Karabakh conflict]

Cool Azeri-Turkish relations might encourage Armenian-Turkish ties

[Correspondent] We recently witnessed some facts damaging the
relationships with Turkey. Do you think this is a coincidence or a
well thought-out policy against the background of Russia’s
strengthening positions?

[Mehdiyev] The regime does not depend on Turkey. It depends on Russia
and the USA. For this reason, any kind of behaviour might be expected
against Turkey. Naturally, as we mentioned, Russia does not support
Turkey’s strengthening in Azerbaijan.

[Correspondent] Do you think that such cool relations might encourage
Armenian-Turkish relations? Moreover, official Baku has stated that
the opening of the borders will strike a serious blow to the
resolving the problem.

[Mehdiyev] No-one has the moral right to air critical opinions about
Turkey. Turkey closed its borders for 11 years and is waiting. What
did Heydar Aliyev do during this period? Maybe he was involved in
issues pertaining to the construction of certain buildings somewhere
[in Baku] or a petrol station. The Erdogan government will open
borders with Armenia and establish diplomatic ties. This is
inevitable. The opening of the Turkish-Armenian borders will
naturally strengthen Armenia. If Turkey keeps its border closed for
100 years, would Azerbaijan’s lands be liberated just like that? An
interesting psychology of not resolving one’s own problem and blaming
others has appeared in Azerbaijan. They blame everywhere [in
Azerbaijan] the OSCE, the UN, the USA and Russia for not liberating
the lands. It’s a very strange position.

[Passage omitted: Mehdiyev’s cites as an example the struggle of
Bosniaks to liberate their lands]

Azerbaijani people guilty of current situation

[Correspondent] Turkey’s ruling circles have also played a certain
role in the formation of the dynastic regime and from this point of
view this country is partly guilty of the current situation …
[ellipses

[Mehdiyev] The Azerbaijani people who are starving in refugee camps
and simultaneously embracing Ilham Aliyev are guilty.

[Correspondent] Do you expect any political changes in Azerbaijan in
the near future or do you think the current situation will continue
until the next [presidential] elections?

[Mehdiyev] If such a person as [ex-Foreign Minister] Tofiq Qasimov
has left Azerbaijan and gained asylum in a foreign country, then I
ponder the plight of this country. Political processes are not
developing in Azerbaijan. Quite simply, a police regime has been set
up and democratic forces are being subjected to repression and
torture. To speak about any changes is absurd until an atmosphere
appears that encourages political processes.

Karabakh official receives Britain’s Baroness Cox

Noyan Tapan news agency, Yerevan, in Russian
28 Jul 04

Karabakh official receives Britain’s Baroness Cox

Stepanakert, 28 July: The people and the government of Artsakh [the
Armenian name for Karabakh] highly appreciate the efforts of [the
deputy speaker of the British House of Lords] Baroness Caroline Cox,
and the international organization Christian Solidarity – which Cox
leads – to assist Nagornyy Karabakh and to protect its interests on
the international arena, foreign minister of the Nagornyy Karabakh
Republic [NKR], Ashot Gulyan has said. He received the delegation
headed by Cox on 27 July.

Cox told Gulyan that she is setting up a new foundation which will
specialize in protecting human rights. The Christian Solidarity
organization, meanwhile, will continue to implement its humanitarian
programmes. In particular, she will continue to assist the Stepanakert
intensive care centre which has achieved, according to Cox,
international recognition.

[Passage omitted: minor details]

Web site contrasts poverty and riches of Karabakh and Armenia

Golos Armenii web site, Yerevan, in Russian
27 Jul 04

Web site contrasts poverty and riches of Karabakh and Armenia

An article on the Voice of Armenia web site in Russian contrasts the
poverty of the town of Shushi in Nagornyy Karabakh with the riches of
a “town of the future” in the region of Mount Ararat which will
provide a golf course, schools, a shopping centre and other
facilities for foreign businessmen. The cost of rebuilding Shushi is
estimated to be the same as that of the new development project, but
Shushi will only receive this money if it “returns to the bosom” of
Azerbaijan, the web site concludes. The following is the text of the
article by Aris Kazinyan “This side of Ararat” posted on the Golos
Armenii web site on 27 July: subheadings inserted editorially:

The Armenian Idea

Today’s Armenian Idea is hidden behind Ararat. It lies beyond the
dormant volcano, where there is no surface river or any kind of
arboreal foliage, and which in the Armenian national conscience is
still associated with a more living embodiment of its history. The
mountain itself is probably unaware of any of this and continues on
its daily rhythm. Often on its summit can be seen the spewing of
sulphur – fumaroles – proving that rumours of the final repose of its
once fiery crater have been somewhat exaggerated. Ararat is three and
a half million years old. In any event, that was when it assumed its
modern “biblical” image. Although, this is not quite true. The
mountain has stood in proud isolation for a very long time in
historical terms, but Little Ararat was “born” only 150,000 years
ago. The ancient inhabitants of the Armenian plateau became the first
witnesses of the emergence of this “infant” into the world. They then
called Ara God although the volcano itself will not grow any bigger
because of this.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the Armenian Idea today is, indeed,
hidden where the sun goes down each evening. It is well known that it
does not care to change its trajectory very much, and for three and a
half million years it has been rolling down the western slopes of the
Great Ararat. There, behind the mountain, the Light of Armenian
civilization spends the night. There is much less of an Idea along
this side of the volcano. Here lies the kingdom of the Material
World.

The town of Shushi [in Nagornyy Karabakh] lies 370km east of Ararat,
and the volcano cannot be seen from here. Nevertheless, it is
precisely here every morning that the Sun of Armenia’s future rises,
which may be judged from the level of development in this great town.
Shushi is undoubtedly the main symbol of the Armenian Idea today, and
therefore it is being populated and developed according to the very
same principles and at the same rate in which could develop, for
example, Van or Mush. In this connection, one has to say that it is
the most poverty-stricken town in Armenia.

Poverty of Shushi

Shushi’s budget, which amounts to 80,000 US dollars, reflects the
cost of the Armenian Idea. This is essentially the price of a
two-room apartment in the centre of Yerevan. Over the course of 12
years the nation has been quite unable to build a green town of the
Armenian dream and therefore show the viability of its idea. Shushi
today is begging for charity in the eyes of the whole world
community, which, incidentally, promises it a dignified life and so
many privileges on condition that it “returns” to the bosom of
Azerbaijan. The Armenian nation, alas, is unable to collect the
25-30m dollars which are so urgently needed to build a modern town
with a population of 10-12,000 people. And here, of course, it is not
a matter of money, but of an Idea which, indeed, has been left out
there, behind the mountain.

Riches of Vaagni

>From the southern foothills of the most beautiful plateau of
Aragatzoti amazing views open up. Here, on an area of only 160 ha,
they are building the town of the future – Vaagni – 500 homes for
rich Armenians with a shopping centre, out-patients clinic, an
international school, a large sports centre and the customary
panorama of the extinct volcano. A mini-golf course is already up and
running. In the near future a large 9-hole course will be opened at
the South Caucasus Golf Club. So far 20 homes have already opened
their doors to their new owners. They are mainly businessmen from
Canada, France, Russia, Switzerland, Britain, as well as Armenia. The
new life-style of this type of town is a 24-hour guard and a ban on
all still and video photography. Incidentally, the overall cost of
the Ovnanyan Ltd project is 25m dollars, exactly what Shushi needs.

Meanwhile, Ararat continues to live at its measured pace. New plays
and films are being made about it. They are still looking for some
kind of ship which in any event has long since been incapable of
withstanding the verbal flood of false patriotism. Today they need to
build a new Noah’s Ark, and at precisely the distance we mentioned –
370km east of Ararat.

FM aide warns Azerbaijan against solving Karabakh problem by Force

Mediamax news agency, Yerevan, in Russian
28 Jul 04

Armenian aide warns Azerbaijan against solving Karabakh problem by
force

Yerevan, 28 July: “The fact that [Azerbaijani President] Ilham Aliyev
spoke about a possible military solution to the Karabakh problem in
his address to Azerbaijan’s ambassadors abroad is a matter of serious
concern,” Gamlet Gasparyan, press secretary of the Armenian Foreign
Ministry, told a press conference in Yerevan today.

According to Mediamax news agency, Gasparyan said that Ilham Aliyev’s
statement “testifies to the fact that the Azerbaijani authorities
have no desire to solve the Karabakh conflict in a peaceful way and
link their hopes with a military solution to the problem”.

“We have repeatedly stated that the consequences of any attempt to
solve the Karabakh problem by force will be catastrophic for the
whole region and first of all, for Azerbaijan,” the press secretary
of the Armenian Foreign Ministry said.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

BAKU: Azeri FM reports truce violation by Armenian troops

ANS TV, Baku, in Azeri
28 Jul 04

Azeri Defence Ministry reports truce violation by Armenian troops

The Armenian armed forces fired using assault-rifles and machine guns
from their positions in the east and southeast sectors of the village
of Aygepar in [Armenia’s] Berd District on the positions of the
Azerbaijani army in the village of Alibayli in Tovuz District for 30
minutes at 2330 on 27 July [1830 gmt], the Defence Ministry press
service has said.

>From 2355 to 0010 [from 1855 to 1910 gmt] on the same night, the
Armenian armed forces fired from their positions 2.5 km southeast of
the village of Berkaber in [Armenia’s] Idzhevan District using
assault-rifles and machine guns on the positions of the Azerbaijani
army in the village of Qizil Hacili in Qazax District. The enemy was
silenced by retaliatory fire. There are no casualties.