ASBAREZ Online [03-09-2004]


1) Georgian Leader Due in Armenia on Friday, Unclear whether Javakhk will be
2) Pipeline Construction Still an Issue for Armenians in Region
3) Abashidze Has Support of Ajaria Armenians
4) Senate Adopts Trade Measure without Key Armenia Provision
5) Schwarzenegger Names Deukmejian to Head Prison Reform Panel

1) Georgian Leader Due in Armenia on Friday, Unclear whether Javakhk will be

YEREVAN/PARIS (Armenpress, RFE/RL)–Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili
will arrive in Yerevan on Friday for two-day official visit that will cover a
broad range of bilateral issues.
President Robert Kocharian’s office said Saakashvili will lead a large
Georgian government delegation composed of the ministers of foreign affairs,
energy, and economic development, as well as senior parliamentarians.
The trip will mark Saakashvili’s first-ever face-to-face meeting with
Kocharian. The 36-year-old popular leader, who was elected president in early
January, is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Andranik Markarian,
parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian and Catholicos Karekin II. His itinerary
includes a visit to the Dzidzernagapert genocide memorial in Yerevan.
Economic issues are expected to dominate the talks, with the Armenian side
likely to push for a reduction in disproportionately high transit fees charged
by Georgia on cargo shipments to and from Armenia. Saakashvili publicly
promised to lower them last December; however, his ministers have been more
ambivalent on the subject.
The two sides will also likely discuss the geopolitical situation in the
Caucasus. Saakashvili’s dramatic rise to power as a result of last November’s
`rose revolution’ in Tbilisi could solidify growing US presence in the
region and accelerate the closure of Russian military bases in Georgia.
Tigran Torosian, the deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, said Yerevan
expects the new regime in Tbilisi to maintain a `balanced policy’ on
and Armenia. Torosian also welcomed Saakashvili’s recent calls for the
of a regional single market, but said the realization of the idea is
`unfortunately a long way off.’


It is unclear whether the situation in Javakhk, the impoverished
Armenian-majority region in southern Georgia will be on the agenda.
has vowed greater central government attention to the grave socioeconomic
problems Javakhk Armenians face. He recently appointed Tbilisi’s outgoing
ambassador in Yerevan Nikoloz Nikolozishvili, as governor of greater
Samtskhe-Javakhk province.
Speaking at a press conference in Paris yesterday, Saakashvili, when asked
whether autonomy will be granted to Javakhk, responded by saying, `Our
relationship with Armenia is on a very good level; such statements can not
damage them,’ but emphasized that they could have a negative impact on the
Javakhk Armenians, and added that the issue is not at the top of the agenda
during his upcoming visit to Yerevan
Levon Mkrtchian, a leader of the coalition government’s Armenian
Federation (ARF), stressed, however, that Javakhk will become `a center of
Armenian-Georgian friendship,’ if the Saakashvili administration ensures
protection of the local population’s `economic and cultural rights.’

2) Pipeline Construction Still an Issue for Armenians in Region

AKHALKALAK (A-INFO)–The Armenian population living along the construction
route of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipe-line (Tsalka, Borjomi, and Akhaltskha),
has consistently opposed the project, and continue to voice their objections.
Especially outraged are those living in the Tapatsghur village of the Borjomi
province, who were promised financial payment for lands taken up by the
project, but have not yet been compensated.
In discussing security issues tied to the pipeline, Georgian President
Saakashvili recently announced during a visit to Azerbaijan that the Armenian
population living along the pipeline’s construction route do not oppose the

3) Abashidze Has Support of Ajaria Armenians

(A-INFO)–The leader of the Armenian community of Ajaria Armen Gevorgian, said
that it should not come as a surprise that the Armenians of the autonomous
Georgian republic back its leadership. Gevorgian explained that the allegiance
to President Aslan Abashidze, began in the early 90s when the St. Savior
Armenian church in Batumi and surrounding territory were returned to the
Armenian community because of Abashidze’s efforts.
Abashidze also put forth a special order that would allow the Batumi Armenian
school to remain operational under any circumstance. `Mr. Abashidze promised
that the school would continue operations, even if only one pupil remained,’
said Gevorgian.
He also explained that Armenians in Ajaria are not oppressed. In 1993,
Abashidze signed a special order to protect the rights of national minorities.
`Unlike Armenians in other provinces of Georgia, those in Ajaria have an
opportunity to watch Armenian state TV, and with Abashidze’s support, publish
the `Aghbyur’ Russian-language newspaper,’ said Gevorgian.

4) Senate Adopts Trade Measure without Key Armenia Provision

WASHINGTON, DC (ANCA)–The Armenian National Committee Of America (ANCA)
disappointment over the Senate’s failure to include a key US-Armenia trade
provision in a larger trade bill that cleared the body earlier on Friday.
The provision, adopted by the House last November, would grant Armenia
Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status. Adoption of this measure would
ensure lower tariffs on Armenian imports to the US and give greater Armenian
access to US government credit facilities on a permanent basis.
`We are disappointed that the Senate missed this excellent opportunity to
expand trade between the US and Armenia,’ said ANCA Executive Director Aram
Hamparian. `We are hopeful that, as the trade bill moves through the
legislative process, supporters in both houses will be able to ensure the
inclusion of the Armenia-PNTR provision.’
An Armenia-PNTR resolution, S.1557, was introduced by Senators Mitch
(R-KY), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on August 1, 2003, and
currently has 15 cosponsors. A companion measure, H.R.528, which was
adopted by
the House in November of last year, was introduced by Congressional Armenian
Caucus Co-chairmen Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
In a letter last March to the House Ways and Means Committee, Hamparian noted
that: `In order for Armenia’s economic growth to continue and for its benefits
to reach more people, Armenia needs to increase investment and trade. Armenia
is dedicated to expanding its economic relationship with the United States,
but, without PNTR, Armenia loses its ability to attract viable export markets
in and investment from the United States. At the same time, without PNTR,
American entrepreneurs who see Armenia as an emerging economy with potential
for investment and trade, hesitate to establish ventures that cannot be
protected by WTO rules or to import Armenian goods at higher, non-MFN tariff
The Trade Act of 1974 excluded all Soviet countries from having normal trade
relations (NTR) status with the United States. One provision of the Act, known
as the Jackson-Vanick amendment, required the President to deny NTR to those
countries that restricted free emigration. The policy was adopted, in part, in
response to Communist government restrictions on the repatriation of Jews.
According to the terms of the Jackson-Vanick amendment, when the President
determines that freedom of emigration rights have been reinstated in a
normal trade relations may be granted. To maintain NTR, the President must
report to Congress twice a year that Jackson-Vanick requirements have been
While successive Presidents have waived the Jackson-Vanick Amendment
restrictions on Armenia during the past decade, the passage of the Knollenberg
bill, would grant Armenia permanent NTR (PNTR) status, without the need for
bi-yearly Presidential determinations.
Permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status ensures lower duties on
Armenian imports to the US, creating incentives for increased trade and
investment opportunities between the two countries. As such, the measure
strengthens bilateral relations between the two countries and helps reinforce
the enduring friendship between the American and Armenian peoples. Increased
US-Armenia trade and investment also helps to offset the impact of the Turkish
and Azerbaijani blockades, estimated by the World Bank at up to $720 million a

5) Schwarzenegger Names Deukmejian to Head Prison Reform Panel

SACRAMENTO (AP)–Former Governor George Deukmejian will chair an independent
review panel looking to reform California’s youth and adult correctional
Governor Schwarzenegger says the panel must find ways to turn around a
of confidence” in the state’s prison system.
Critics argue, however, that Deukmejian–who held office from 1983 to
1991–helped build the state’s prison system into the nation’s largest
during a
law-and-order administration.
Schwarzenegger says the panel will examine the corrections system’s “ethics
and culture;” organization and operations; safety practices for inmates,
employees, and the public; and personnel and training programs.
He says the panel will report to him directly as part of his administration’s
larger performance review.

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