La droite française remet en question un engagement historique

Le Monde, France
9 Avril 2004

La droite française remet en question un engagement historique de
l’Europe vis-à-vis de la Turquie

L’UMP entre en opposition avec le président de la République sur
la candidature d’Ankara à l’Union. La “vocation européenne” de
la Turquie avait été reconnue par de Gaulle en 1963 Le ministre
des affaires étrangères français, Michel Barnier, a dû
faire une mise au point, jeudi 8 avril, à propos des relations de
la Turquie avec l’Union européenne : “La ligne de la France reste
la même”, a-t-il dit, après qu’Alain Juppé eut pris, la
veille, le contre-pied de la politique officielle française en
contestant, au nom de l’UMP, la vocation européenne de ce pays. A
l’Elysée, on appuyait, jeudi, les déclarations de M. Barnier, en
confirmant que la position de la France n’avait pas changé, et
restait “celle que le président n’a cessé de répéter ces
dernières années”.

Le parti de la majorité est donc entré en opposition avec le
président de la République et le gouvernement, sur une question qui
promet de devenir l’un des sujets sensibles du débat préélectoral.
Même si l’on fait valoir, à l’Elysée, que “chacun est dans son rôle”
et qu’il ne s’agit là que du “jeu démocratique” normal, il est peu
probable que les électeurs s’y retrouvent.

On sentait à vrai dire depuis quelque temps que la question turque
posait quelques problèmes à la droite française. La perspective d’une
adhésion, même lointaine, de la Turquie à l’ensemble européen est en
effet contestée dans son principe sur deux fronts : par les droites
extrémistes et souverainistes, décidées à en faire un de leurs thèmes
de mobilisation pour les élections européennes, mais aussi par des
milieux proeuropéens, notamment à l’UDF. Des hommes comme Valéry
Giscard d’Estaing ou Jean-Louis Bourlanges se sont affichés comme
farouchement opposés à l’entrée de la Turquie dans l’Union.

En estimant, mercredi, qu’il faut fixer des limites à l’Union sous
peine de la “dénaturer” et que la Turquie ne doit pas être dedans,
Alain Juppé reprend les arguments de ces derniers. Il a reconnu qu’il
avait “évolué” sur le sujet, et c’est peu dire.

M. Juppé, lorsqu’il était minis- tre des affaires étrangères, avait
en effet activement défendu une vision stratégique des relations avec
la Turquie : sa démocratisation, le rapprochement de ce grand pays
musulman avec l’Europe pouvaient avoir un effet stabilisateur dans la
région, et l’Europe avait tout à y gagner. Alain Juppé a été
l’artisan de l’accord d’union douanière de 1995, qui faisait de la
Turquie le pays non membre le plus étroitement associé à l’Europe. Il
eut à le défendre contre la Grèce, contre une partie des députés
européens, contre les socialistes français qui s’enflammaient soudain
de compassion pour les Kurdes maltraités.

Ce n’était certes qu’un accord d’union douanière. Mais dès lors, et
depuis l’arrivée de Jacques Chirac à l’Elysée, la France est
considérée par les Turcs tournés vers l’Europe comme leur meilleur
soutien dans l’Union. Cette idylle n’a connu que quelques incidents
de parcours sans lendemain, quand les parlementaires français
s’emparaient de la question du génocide arménien.

A de multiples reprises ces dernières années, Jacques Chirac a
rappelé sa position invariable, la dernière fois avec peut-être un
peu plus de prudence, lors du Conseil européen du 26 mars : “Les
efforts de la Turquie en vue d’intégrer toutes les règles de la
démocratie et de l’économie de marché sont indiscutables, a dit le
président. C’est le rapport de la Commission -attendu pour octobre-
qui nous permettra de décider s’il y a lieu ou non d’engager des
négociations, qui seront longues, pour son adhésion.”

La question qui est posée est donc de savoir si les changements
introduits par la Turquie dans sa législation sont suffisants pour
satisfaire aux normes européennes, et s’ils sont effectivement mis en
œuvre dans la pratique. Pour les autorités françaises, c’est une
question “technique”. Aucune question de principe ne se pose en
revanche sur la “vocation européenne” de la Turquie, sur sa
légitimité à intégrer à terme, même si c’est dans longtemps,
l’ensemble européen.

C’est sur ce point qu’Alain Juppé a rompu, mercredi, avec la position
officielle.

Le débat sur la Turquie n’est pas propre à la France. Le chancelier
Kohl avait en son temps mis les pieds dans le plat en faisant
référence à l’héritage chrétien de l’Europe ; l’Union
chrétienne-démocrate (CDU) lui emboîte le pas aujourd’hui, de même
que d’autres démocrates-chrétiens et diverses extrêmes droites
européennes, notamment au Danemark. Mais la position officielle de la
France ne lui est pas propre non plus : c’est la position officielle
de l’Union.

Ce qui fait la particularité de la Turquie dans le débat sur “les
limites de l’Europe” c’est, plus que sa petite partie de territoire
située en Europe continentale, l’engagement historique qu’avaient
pris envers elle de Gaulle et Adenauer en 1963, impulsant un accord
d’association qui proclamait la “vocation européenne” de ce pays.
Pendant de longues années, l’évolution politique tourmentée de la
Turquie a épargné aux Européens d’avoir à se préoccuper de cette
promesse ; la Turquie n’était pas même reconnue comme pays candidat.

C’est en 1999, au sommet d’Helsinki qui trace les grandes lignes de
l’élargissement jusqu’en 2005, qu’Ankara se voit reconnaître le
statut de candidat. Le texte d’Helsinki est sans ambiguïté sur le
fond : “La Turquie, dit ce texte, est un pays candidat, qui a
vocation à rejoindre l’Union” quand il aura rempli les critères de
conformité définis en 1993 à Copenhague. En 2002, lors d’un autre
sommet à Copenhague, les Quinze font un grand pas de plus vers
Ankara. Si la Turquie répond aux critères fin 2004 (ce sera l’objet
du rapport de la Commission en octobre), “l’Union ouvrira avec elle
des négociations d’adhésion”, déclare le sommet dans ses conclusions.

Claire Tréan

Rally Participants Taken in Police Stations

A1 Plus | 22:18:51 | 09-04-2004 | Politics |

RALLY PARTICIPANTS TAKEN IN POLICE STATIONS

On Friday night, Republic party issued a statement saying the rally
participants, especially those carrying banners during the rally, had
been taken in police stations after the event.

“Our efforts to obtain explanation or information produced little
effect. All our questions to the law enforcement remained
unanswered”, the statement says.

39% of Population of Armenia Want Change of Authority

39% OF POPULATION OF ARMENIA WANT CHANGE OF AUTHORITY

08.04.2004 17:56

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Only 39% of population of Armenia support the ideas of
change of authorities, head of the Armenian Sociological Association Gevorg
Poghosian said in an interview with Novoye Vremya Armenian newspaper.
According to the returns of the survey, held by the Association in all
regions of the republic, 43.4% of the respondents do not support the idea
and 17% found it difficult to answer. “The rating of the two opposition
leaders does not exceed 30% – Artashes Geghamian (leader of National
Unification Party) has 20%, which is about twice as much as Stepan
Demirchian’s rating (Justice Bloc leader) – 10%,” G. Poghosian said. In
his words, the model of the Georgian rose revolution, when external forces
organize and sponsor authority change without hindrance, will not work out
in Armenia. “One should realize that Armenia is traditionally oriented
towards Russia, and 67% of those questioned state this,” Gevorg Poghosian
said. 1 thousand citizens of Armenia were interrogated by the Association.

Boxing: Harrison gets Abelyan date

Sportinglife, UK
April 8 2004

HARRISON GETS ABELYAN DATE

WBO featherweight champion Scott Harrison insists mandatory opponent
William Abelyan will pose the minimum possible risk when the two
fighters eventually meet in Glasgow on May 29.

Harrison will face the United States-based Armenian at Braehead more
than two months after the first scheduled fight was cancelled due to
Abelyan’s injured shoulder.

Abelyan will have been out of the ring for almost a year by the time
he arrives in Glasgow and Harrison insists Abelyan’s record indicates
he will be a less than troublesome opponent.

He said: “Boxing is a risky game and you can get floored with one
punch but I don’t think this will be that tough a fight, I see
Abelyan being stopped later in the fight.

“He’s been mouthing off a lot saying that I fight like a robot but
robots are programmed to win. But I couldn’t care less about him to
be honest.

“Who has he fought anyway? I’ve fought a lot of world champions in
the past but I don’t see anyone on his record.

“He’s not fought anyone that I’ve heard of apart from Guty Espadas
and he’s boxed nearly 30 fights. He got knocked out in one round by
Victor Polo so he doesn’t bother me.

“He hasn’t taken any warm-up fights before meeting me – I think
that’s in case he gets beat.

“I just see him running all night. He says he’s going to stand and
fight and he’ll have to if he wants to win the world title.

“But I think he’s just taking the money, he doesn’t really want to
fight.”

There will be familiarity surrounding Harrison’s latest title defence
as the Scotsman is fighting for the ninth time in row in Glasgow and
the champion admits he wants to continue boxing in front of his home
fans as long as possible.

He said: “I don’t want to fight anywhere else, fighting in Scotland
is fantastic for me and you can’t beat the crowd, they are so
patriotic and it’s packed at Braehead every time I fight there.

“It all depends on the money of course but I wouldn’t want to fight
in America.”

In keeping with Harrison’s attitude, the Scotsman is keeping to his
tried-and-tested training regime which involves packing himself away
to a Fort William training camp to get into top shape.

He said: “It will be the usual preparation. I’ve done about four days
training and now I’m off to Fort William for a month.

“It gets me away from the city and I can concentrate on my training.
There’s mountains to run on every morning and night and it gives me
peace and quiet to train and concentrate on my job. It’s worked in
the past and I’ll stick with it.”

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

CSTO secretary general to discuss regional problems in Armenia

ITAR-TASS, Russia
April 8 2004

CSTO secretary general to discuss regional problems in Armenia

YEREVAN, April 8 (Itar-Tass) – Secretary General of the Collective
Security Treaty Organisation Nikolai Bordyuzha will arrive in the
Armenian capital on a three-day working visit on Thursday evening.

He plans to discuss key regional issues with President Robert
Kocharyan of Armenia, a source at the Armenian Foreign Ministry told
Tass.

In the course of his visit he plans to meet with the speaker of the
country’s parliament, defence minister and secretary of the Security
Council at Armenia’s president.

Bordyuzha also plans to hold talks with the foreign minister,
director of the National Security Service and the chief of the
country’s police.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Kocharian: Authorities Have Necessary Resources to Bridle Disturbers

ROBERT KOCHARIAN: ARMENIAN AUTHORITIES HAVE RESOURCES NECESSARY TO BRIDLE
LAW AND ORDER DISTURBERS

08.04.2004 18:38

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Armenian authorities have resources necessary to bridle
law and order disturbers, Armenian President Robert Kocharian stated today
in an interview with the Public TV Company. In the state leader’s words,
over one million of citizens of the country, who have elected him, already
address the authorities, asking to sanction their meetings in response to
opposition actions. “However, I always refuse to such initiatives, as I do
not consider it advisable to stir up Armenian citizens against one another,”
the President said. In R. Kocharian’s words, at present the opposition
struggles not so much against the President, as among each other for the
title of “the greatest pan-Armenian oppositionist.” “By criticizing me, the
opposition fulfills its tasks and via its excessive aggressiveness tries to
gain the support of the constituency,” the President noted. In his words,
when opposition, or rather “the aggressive political minority” at last
elects a leader, everything will calm down.

Where Did Noah Park the Ark?

East Mountain Telegraph, NM
April 8 2004

Where Did Noah Park the Ark?

By Kathy Louise Schuit
Telegraph Staff Writer
Almost since Moses reported the great flood and the ark that
survived it in the Bible’s book of Genesis, men have searched Mount
Ararat for remains of the life-saving craft.
In this century, Ed Davis of Albuquerque was one of the few who,
before his death in 1998 at age 95, claimed to have seen the ark.
But it was Mountainair’s Don Shockey who told Davis’ story to the
world in his book “Agri-Dagh, Mount Ararat – The Painful Mountain” and
who continues trying to prove that what Davis saw in 1946 was indeed
Noah’s Ark.
In the book, Davis recounts to Shockey his experiences in and
near Hamadan, Iran, while serving with the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers in 1943. Mount Ararat rises from within the Turkish borders
near Iran and Russia.
Davis said he was shown artifacts from the ark and held them in
his hands. Then, accompanied by the family of a man who represented
himself as a guardian of the ark, Davis said he was taken to it.
Since writing the book Shockey has himself scaled Mount Ararat
three times – in 1984, 1989 and again in 1990.
Countless TV and radio appearances, including an episode of the
popular “Unsolved Mysteries” series, have given thousands of people a
look at Shockey’s own photographs of the mountain and what appears to
be an object resting high on a northern slope. Shockey believes this
object is the ark.
But Shockey, a true New Mexican who made all three climbs to the
snowline in cowboy boots, has never been able to get close enough to
gather conclusive evidence of his find.
On the 1984 trip that resulted in the now-famous photos, he said,
climbing permits issued by the Turkish government and enforced by
guides did not allow him to cross into the distant area where the
object was resting.
On subsequent trips – including 1989, when Shockey rented a
helicopter to photograph the object from the air and hopefully land
nearby – he said he was prevented by border hostilities and military
actions taking place in Russia and Iran.
If proven, the finding of Noah’s Ark would validate Christianity
and set the world on its ear, Shockey said in a recent interview at
his Mountainair home.
“Gilbert Grosvenor (chairman) of National Geographic said it
would be the single most important archaeological find in the world,”
Shockey said.

Anthropology past
Though Shockey is retired from a long career as an optometrist,
he is no anthropological amateur.
Under the tutelage of Dr. Frank Hibben, renowned anthropology
professor, Shockey graduated from the University of New Mexico in
1957 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a minor in biology
and then went on to finish a degree in secondary education.
While completing his anthropology studies, he said, he was
privileged to assist in the excavation of a site near Lucy, N.M. –
between Willard and Encino.
The location, Shockey said, has since been officially designated
as a site once occupied by Sandia Man, considered by anthropologists
to be one of the most ancient inhabitants of North or South America.
The original Sandia Man site centers on a cave in the Sandia
Mountains.

Findings doubted
Despite Shockey’s expertise and connections in the scientific
community, many people challenge his belief that he, with the help of
Ed Davis’ recollections, has found Noah’s Ark. The “Unsolved
Mysteries” episode, which aired in 1993, also examined the findings
of archaeologist Dave Fasold.
Fasold claimed at that time to have found the ark’s resting place
14 miles away from Shockey’s site, and from Mount Ararat.
According to “Unsolved Mysteries,” disagreement between biblical
scholars about whether the ark actually came to rest on Ararat itself
adds plausibility to Fasold’s claim.
The Bible says the ark landed on “the mountains of Ararat.”
Unfortunately for ark hunters, Shockey said, the mountains of
Ararat are one of the world’s largest – not tallest – mountain ranges,
and include greater and lesser Ararat in a mountainous region that
geologically extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Himalaya
Mountains. At high elevations, they are mostly covered with snow and
ice year-round.
The size and shape of Fasold’s find – a depression in the earth
near Ararat – coincide roughly with archaeologists’ best calculations
of the ark’s dimensions, said “Unsolved Mysteries.”
Additionally, the depression is filled with what Fasold claimed
were regularly spaced iron deposits – something, he said, you might
find after 5,000 years of deterioration left behind only the traces
of iron studs that once possibly held the ark’s framework together.
Shockey, however, said Fasold’s claims are completely
manufactured.
“If that’s Noah’s Ark, Noah had a fleet,” said Shockey.
He explained that similar iron deposits occur throughout the
Ararat range.
Based on his photographs and his research into historically
recorded sightings of the ark throughout recorded time, Shockey said
he is offended by Fasold’s claims that the ark is today nothing more
than a deteriorated depression in the side of the mountain.

Ark sightings
According to Arktracker, an obscure ark timeline on the World
Wide Web, ark sightings date back to the year 275 B.C., when
Berossus, a Babylonian priest, scholar and astronomer, claimed that
“pilgrims went up a mountain in Armenia to carve amulets from the
petrified pitch that covers the ark.”
In the fourth century, Faustus of Byzantium reported the
experiences of bishops who said they saw it, and in the 13th century
Marco Polo wrote an account of seeing the ark in his book “The
Travels of Marco Polo.”
In 1883, Turkish officials documented avalanches on Ararat that
they said revealed the scattered remains of the ark and left them
fully visible for six years.
Davis was just one of five American servicemen who between 1942
and 1946 claimed to have seen the ark, either from the ground or from
their planes.
Shockey credits his belief in the ark’s continued survival to its
construction from “gopher wood.”
There is no Hebrew word for gopher wood, said Shockey, but the
Bible says it is the material from which the ark is constructed. Most
biblical scholars believe gopher wood to be a type of cypress or
cedar, but Shockey has a different theory.
“What if gopher wood is a process, not a species?” said Shockey.
Much like the process used to create modern-day laminates, gopher
wood, Shockey said, might have been a composite material formed from
strong wood and tree sap that hardened to steel strength.
Shockey said he discovered the possibility of a gopher wood
process in talking with members of the Jewish community in the Middle
East.
“If we didn’t know what plywood was, we might be looking for a
tree,” he said.
Today’s stealth bomber technology includes some construction with
a similar, “para-laminate” material, which contains no metal, Shockey
said.
Whether the ark actually rests on Mount Ararat or ever existed at
all, the probings of Shockey and other ark hunters will likely
stimulate thought, interest and discussion from now until the matter
is finally proved one way or the other.
However, no one can dispute the geological facts that from the
icy center of the mountains of Ararat, the Tigris and Euphrates
Rivers are born. Between these two rivers Mesopotamia, the historical
“seat of civilization,” took shape.
Historians can’t say for sure whether a great flood preceded
these events, but if Noah did come down off the mountain to
re-establish life on earth, scholars agree it was a fertile place
that guaranteed humanity’s success.

Bayrakdarian’s star blazing

CanadianChristianity.com, Canada
April 8 2004

Bayrakdarian’s star blazing

By David F. Dawes

CANADIAN soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian has been considered a ‘rising
star’ for the past few years. But judging from the response of
various audiences and critics, it is now more accurate to state that
she has arrived as a true star, establishing herself as a presence to
be reckoned with on the world stage.

Her latest CD, Azulao, won recognition April 4 as best classical
vocal album at the 33rd annual Juno Award ceremony. A collection of
Spanish and Latin American music, the album is Bayrakdarian’s second
solo CD for CBC Records. Her first was Joyous Light, featuring an
exquisite set of Armenian hymns. In addition to high-profile opera
roles and recitals which have been garnering high praise from
critics, she has made her mark in TV appearances — and on film
soundtracks, such as The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

It’s an interesting turn of events for someone who originally
attended university with the intention of becoming an engineer.
Having been raised in the choral tradition of the Armenian church,
she was instead inspired to pursue music.

Bayrakdarian won the Metropolitan Opera National Auditions in 1997,
and went on to win first prize at the Placido Domingo ‘Operalia’
competition in 2000; she also received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden
Jubilee medal. In the past several years, she has played major roles
in operas such as The Magic Flute, The Barber of Seville, The Merry
Widow and A View from the Bridge. She has appeared internationally,
most notably at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy. She also
performed Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5 on CBC TV, and
Rachmaninov’s Vocalise on Bravo Arts Television.

Critics have been charmed, frequently using the word ‘luminous’ to
describe her. Urjo Kareda, in the Globe and Mail, found her singing
“instinctively dramatic and expressive,” asserting that Bayrakdarian
“is able to inhabit whatever music she sings.” After her 2002
Carnegie Hall recital, Matthew Gurewitsch of Opera Now described her
as “an exotic, dark-eyed beauty blessed with a gracious platform
manner,” adding: “What Teresa Berganza was to her generation,
Bayrakdarian should prove to be for ours.”

A 2001 Vancouver appearance prompted the often-acerbic Lloyd Dykk to
proclaim the soprano “a great new voice in music, one no less than
equal to Anne-Sophie von Otter or Renee Fleming.” Referring to her
appearance in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, Hamilton critic Hugh
Fraser enthused: “Don’t, whatever you do, miss soprano Isabel
Bayrakdarian as Adina . . . Come, marvel and then forever hold your
peace. At least you were there once.”

In an interview with La Scena Musicale, the singer indicated that she
puts a lot of thought into the characters she plays. Regarding
Zerlina, in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Bayrakdarian said: “She is not a
victim, I will never portray my characters as victims, because in
life I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor and I aim for honesty in every
way on stage. Sure, Zerlina has people around her who physically and
emotionally toss her around, but she’s not accepting it and doesn’t
get stuck in self-pity.”

Regarding Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, she said: “There are
some roles that you identify so much with that it almost ceases to
become acting and pretending, where the vocal writing suits your
voice perfectly and it becomes almost like speaking. It becomes me in
a way on the stage, it’s just pure pleasure.”

She also indicated that, in her view, opera is still a vital creative
medium with much to offer contemporary audiences. “We are a
generation that is used to multimedia and I think directors are
responding to that, possibly a bit more in Europe than in North
America. But the main thing is that you have an honest, committed
performance. It’s the same with any kind of live performance. Why is
it that people get so carried away in concerts as opposed to
listening to a CD, whether it’s a pop-group or something else? In the
live performance there’s the adrenaline and that extra magic that I
think people will always crave. I hope!”

It is evident that Bayrakdarian has a faith rooted deeply in her
Armenian Orthodox background. She is featured on the soundtrack of
Atom Egoyan’s film, Ararat, performing a traditional Good Friday
piece. Canadian composer Christos Hatzis was so inspired by her
singing that he wrote an Easter oratorio especially for her, based on
Armenian hymns. Light from the Cross, commissioned by the Eastern
Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, was performed
several times in 2002 and 2003, and has yet to be recorded.

Hatzis writes that the singer’s childhood experience singing in
church directly influenced the composition in several ways.

“When conductor Mario Bernardi asked me to get involved with this
project and gave me printed arrangements of some of these hymns as
well as a CD of similar hymns recorded by Isabel, I realized that
there were quite a few discrepancies between Isabel’s renderings and
the actual notation of these melodies. Hers was a ‘liquid,’ flowing
rendering with a myriad of small vocal modulations and ornamentations
that defied notation. Knowing that she grew up with these hymns —
and therefore with the oral tradition that has preserved them to this
day — I preferred to follow her far richer renditions rather than
the notated versions of the same hymns.

“I had Isabel record the hymns for me unaccompanied . . . and then
used these recordings as the basis of my own composition, creating an
orchestral ‘presence’ around her actual pre-recorded voice. I
composed the work using a computer, and it was a great inspiration to
hear her voice constantly as I was sculpting the music around the
minutest inflections of her recorded rendering.”

Speaking recently to CBC radio about the liturgical music on Joyous
Light, Bayrakdarian said: “It’s almost as if you’re listening to a
conversation with heaven . . . It comes from the soul.” The
scripture-based lyrics, she added, “are my conversation with God.”
She said she felt privileged “to sing them with the gift he’s given
me.”

That gift is in top form, judging from a recent concert appearance.
The Vancouver Recital Society presented Bayrakdarian March 19,
accompanied by pianist Serouj Kradjian. In addition to several
selections by Mozart, Vivaldi and Rossini, she performed music by two
obscure composers: Johann Adolph Hasse from the 18th century, and the
20th century’s Xavier Montsalvatge

She showed consummate musical ability, negotiating both bravura and
delicate passages with admirable ease. She also demonstrated an
acting ability reminiscent of the legendary Maria Callas —
expressing courage, intense sorrow, flirtatiousness, whimsicality and
unbridled joy with equal skill. The packed house gave her a
well-earned standing ovation.

Clearly, Bayrakdarian has a promising career ahead of her — and
evidently has a healthy perspective on it. Asked about the impact of
her success on her everyday life, she told La Scena Musicale:

“It’s good to be ambitious, but there’s a limit. It’s important to
understand how the business works, while at the same time not
becoming too immersed in it because, then you are not concentrating
on your art. You have to ask yourself if you are comfortable with the
attention you get, being in the spotlight. I’m from the Armenian
community and there you also have a kind of spotlight on you. I’ve
learned what I can accept to be known publicly and what I want to
keep private.”

In addition to a May-June stint with the Los Angeles Opera, in The
Marriage of Figaro, Bayrakdarian is also preparing her next
recording. It will be another CBC Records production, featuring
operatic portrayals of the legendary Cleopatra, by Handel and several
other composers.

http://www.canadianchristianity.com/cgi-bin/na.cgi?nationalupdates/040408star

Azerbaijan: Turkey could prove spoiler for NK peace

Eurasianet organization, United States
April 8 2004

AZERBAIJAN: TURKEY COULD PROVE SPOILER FOR NAGORNO-KARABAKH PEACE
Zulfugar Agayev: 4/08/04

Prospects for a Nagorno-Karabakh peace agreement suffered a potential
setback recently when President Ilham Aliyev warned that Azerbaijan
might withdraw from peace talks if Turkey opens its border with
Armenia. In recent months, Turkey, a key Azerbaijani ally, has
indicated that it may be willing to consider ending its 11-year
blockade of Armenia. The Turkish decision-making process appears to
be driven by Ankara’s ambitions to join the European Union.

Turkish-Armenian relations have been marked by animosity for much of
the past century, with tension continuing to revolve around the mass
slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish soldiers during World War
I. On an official visit to the United States in late January, Turkish
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that his Justice and
Development Party (AKP) government might decide to re-open the border
with Armenia “if the friendly initiatives of Turkey were
reciprocated.” Erdogan said that Turks living in economically
depressed neighboring regions with Armenia want to see the border
opened so that they can easily trade with the former Soviet republic.
Currently, trade between the two states – estimated by the
Turkish-Armenian Business Council, a non-governmental organization,
at roughly $70 million – takes place via Georgia and Iran.

Without Turkey, Azerbaijan would be the only state maintaining a
blockade of Armenia over Yerevan’s ongoing occupation of Azerbaijani
territory captured during the Nagorno-Karabakh war. A decision to
open Turkey’s borders with Armenia, Aliyev said, would leave Baku at
a disadvantage in negotiating for the withdrawal of Armenian troops
from Azerbaijani territory. “If Turkey were to open its doors to
Armenia, Azerbaijan will lose an important lever in finding a
solution to the conflict,” the president told reporters on March 24
after returning from an official visit to Uzbekistan. “It also would
make it impossible for us to continue the peace talks and would even
bring the talks to an end.”

Already that threat appears to have been put to work. A meeting
between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers, originally
scheduled for March 29 in Prague, was cancelled at “the wish of one
side,” OSCE Minsk Group Chairman Yuri Merzlyakov told the Azerbaijani
Channel ATV. The Minsk Group, made up of the US, UK, Russia and
France, is charged with overseeing the Nagorno-Karabakh peace
process. Citing an “informed source” in the Armenian Foreign
Ministry, the Armenian news agency Mediamax reported that the
cancellation had not been at Armenia¹s instigation.

Little progress has been made in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process
since 2002. [For additional information see the Eurasia Insight
archive]. Despite intermittent announcements of fresh peace
proposals, and a meeting between Armenian President Robert Kocharian
and President Aliyev last December in Geneva, no concrete
breakthrough has emerged. Aliyev stressed in early February that he
was “not in favor of making compromises,” and Azerbaijani officials
later announced that they were in “no hurry” to find a solution to
the Karabakh question.

Since Aliyev’s initial comments, other Azerbaijani leaders have
attempted to exert pressure on Ankara to maintain the status quo. “If
Turkey opens the border with Armenia, it will deal a blow not only to
Azerbaijani-Turkish friendship but also to the entire Turkic world,”
Azerbaijani Parliament Speaker Murtuz Alasgarov told MPs on April 6,
according to a Trend news agency report.

Until recently, Turkish support for Azerbaijan on the Karabakh
question appeared steadfast. Turkey and Azerbaijan share close
cultural ties. Although Turkey was one of the first countries to
recognize Armenian independence in 1991, Ankara has no diplomatic
relations with its neighbor. In 1993, Ankara closed the Turkish
border with Armenia in an act of solidarity with Azerbaijan.

But now, more than 10 years later, Turkey’s foreign policy objectives
have changed. In December 2004, the European Union will decide
whether to begin accession talks with Turkey, potentially putting the
country in line to become the EU’s first predominantly Muslim member
state. To enhance Turkey’s chances for success, Prime Minister
Erdogan launched an ambitious reform program to improve the country’s
checkered record on human, political and ethnic minority rights and
rebuild its economy from a five-year-long recession. [For background
see the Eurasia Insight archive].

>From the EU’s perspective, lifting the blockade of Armenia remains a
key component of any program for change. A draft version of the
European Parliament’s yearly report on the status of Turkey’s
accession bid reportedly called on the country “to open the borders
with Armenia, establish good-neighbor relations . . . and to give up
any action impeding the reconciliation of the two countries.”

EU economic clout provides a compelling incentive for Ankara to
listen. In 2002, the latest year for which figures are available, the
EU ranked as Turkey’s top trade partner, accounting for more than 50
percent of its exports and 45 percent of its imports. At the same
time, the United States has also urged Turkey to rebuild ties with
Armenia. At a March 26 press conference in Yerevan, US Deputy
Secretary of State Richard Armitage stated that restoring official
economic ties between the two states would bring benefits to both
sides “rather dramatically and relatively quickly.”

For its part, Azerbaijan represents vast oil and natural gas wealth
that could enable Turkey to realize its dream of becoming a highly
profitable East-West energy bridge. Conscious of this weight, Aliyev
was quick to remind Ankara where its interests should lie. “Turkey is
a great and powerful nation and I am sure that Turkey will withstand
the pressures [to open its border with Armenia],” the Azerbaijani
president stressed. “The Turkish-Azerbaijani brotherhood is above
everything.”

Aliyev said he had received previous assurances from both Erdogan and
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul that the Turkish-Armenian border would
be opened only after Armenia withdraws from Azerbaijan’s occupied
territories. Ahmed Unal Cevikoz, Turkey’s ambassador to Baku, told
The Baku Sun, an English-language weekly, that Erdogan’s statement in
Washington had probably been “misunderstood” by the Azerbaijanis.

The Turkish ambassador emphasized that his country maintains all
three of its conditions for opening its border with Armenia:
withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh, an end to Armenian territorial
claims on Turkey’s Eastern Anatolia region, and an end to Armenia’s
campaign to secure international recognition of the 1915 slaughter of
1.5 million Armenians by Turkey’s Ottoman Empire as genocide.

But some Azerbaijani analysts believe that Turkey’s changes on other
foreign policy questions presage a similar about-face on its Karabakh
position. Thirty years after its invasion of Cyprus, Turkey recently
began talks with Greece on a UN reunification plan for the island,
another ingredient for Turkey’s accession to the EU. Turkey also has
bowed to US pressure on the Kurdish question, as Ankara has refrained
from sending Turkish troops into Kurdish-populated northern Iraq, and
has since extended language and media rights to its own Kurdish
populations. “This policy of retreat is obvious in the positions that
Ankara now holds on the issues of Cyprus, the Iraqi Turkomen and also
on Karabakh,” said Altay Goyushov, a Baku-based expert on Turkish
affairs.

Some analysts argue that Erdogan’s government is more concerned with
expanding trade than it is about potential for friction with a fellow
Turkic, Muslim state. “I think there are many in AKP who believe that
increased commerce makes better neighbors, and thus eases the way for
better relations,” Ugur Akinci, a Turkish analyst who accompanied
Erdogan to Washington, wrote in an opinion piece published in the
Turkish Daily News.

The World Bank agrees. Both the Bank and the UN’s Food and
Agriculture Organization have long argued that the blockade has
hindered the economic development of both Armenia and Turkey. The
World Bank has estimated that the lifting of both the Azerbaijani and
Turkish blockades could increase Armenia’s GDP by as much as 30-38
percent. The Turkish-Armenian Business Council has estimated that
bilateral trade could reach $300 million per year with the lifting of
the blockade.

As Azerbaijan looks on from the side, one analyst cautions that
patience is the best operating strategy. “We should consider that
Azerbaijan and Turkey are two separate countries,” said Goyushov,
“and although the two are bound by ethnicity and religion, their
interests can sometimes be different.”

Editor’s Note: Zulfugar Agayev is a freelance writer based in Baku.

BAKU: Protest under initiative of Azerbaijan Journalists in Turkey

Azer Tag, Azerbaijan State Info Agency
April 8 2004

ACTIONS OF PROTEST HELD UNDER THE INITIATIVE OF THE AZERBAIJAN
JOURNALISTS IN TURKEY
[April 08, 2004, 23:20:32]

As was stated, representatives of independent mass media of
Azerbaijan have carried out in the cities of Igdir and Ankara of
Turkey, actions of protest to express the concern in connection with
probability of opening of borders between Turkey and Armenia. During
the meetings and rallies in Igdir, citizens of Turkey also have
joined our journalists and have supported them. Governor of Igdir
Musa Kiuchukgurd received our journalists. Having reminded words of
our national leader, the outstanding politician of the Turkic world
Heydar Aliyev `we are one nation, two states!’, the Governor has
emphasized that the Turkish people constantly supports fair position
of the Azerbaijan brothers.

On April 8, at the Gizil Ay Square in Ankara, a populous meeting with
participation of the independent journalists who have arrived from
Azerbaijan, our citizens living and working in Ankara, students, and
representatives of the Turkish public was held.

The demonstrators had in their hands national flags of Azerbaijan and
Turkey, posters with slogans `NO!’ to opening of borders! ‘, `The
Turkish-Azerbaijan friendship is eternal and indestructible!»
expressed protest against the aggressive policy of Armenia.

For carrying out of mass action in Ankara all corresponding official
sanctions have been received. During meeting and rally, no
infringements of law and public order were admitted.