ASBAREZ Online [03-17-2004]


1) EU-Armenia Parliamentary Commission Reaffirms Necessity of Nuclear Plant
2) Regulation without Karabagh Impossible Says Ghukasian
3) Spain’s New Prime Minister Thanks ARF Bureau
4) Oskanian to Meet with Guliyev in Prague
5) Soprano Arpine Pehlivanian Passes Away
6) Georgian President To Meet Rebel Region Leader

1) EU-Armenia Parliamentary Commission Reaffirms Necessity of Nuclear Plant

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The 6th session of the European Union-Armenia
Parliamentary Cooperation Commission held in Yerevan, March 15-16, discussed
the shutting down of Armenia’s nuclear power plant.
The sides agreed that in its current state, the plant poses serious dangers.
On the other hand, its closure would require that an reliable alternative
energy source exist to guarantee engery security for Armenia.
The commission reafirmmed that the nuclear power plant be shut down, but that
an alternative reliable, secure energy source replace it.
“There are many ways to do this, but the future will show which way is the
most optimal for Armenia,” stated commission chair Armen Rustamian.

2) Regulation without Karabagh Impossible Says Ghukasian

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR) President Arkady
Ghukasian called on OSCE’s visiting chairman-in-office, Bulgarian Foreign
Minister Solomon Passy to create an opportunity for direct dialogue between
and Azerbaijan, stressing the necessity of MKR’s involvement in the
process and willingness to enter negotiations without preconditions.
The meeting took place in Yerevan on Wednesday, where MKR Foreign Minister
Ashot Ghulian and MKR permanent representative in Armenia Arman Melikian were
also part of the discussion.
Passy said that the quick and uniterrupted restoration of dialogue between
sides is crucial and that he will exert all efforts toward that goal.
Ghukasian said that dicussions included not only the political process to a
resolution, but also a potential legal one. “I am confident that a legal
package would promote political regulation. I believe the OSCE acting chairman
agreed, but it is clear the OSCE is complicated mechanism: all 55 member
countries have the right to exercise a veto. . . In any case, we must work and
we are ready to work and are confident that our position is very
Asked by reporters about MKR’s role in the regulation process, Ghukasian said
Karabagh is a full-fledged participant in the conflict, as confirmed by the
1994 Budapest Summit. “The president of Azerbaijan also participated in
Budapest sessions and agreed with this. This is no longer a topic for
discussion. . . I assure that Mountainous Karabagh will be involved in the
process of talks as a full-fledged participant,” stressed Ghukasian “Without
Karabagh, the issue will not be regulated.”

3) Spain’s New Prime Minister Thanks ARF Bureau

YEREVAN (YERKIR)– Spain’s newly elected prime minister José Luis Rodríguez
Zapatero, in a letter thanked Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau
representative Hrant Margarian, both for the party’s condolences and
congratulations, reported the ARF press service.
In a March 12 letter, the ARF Bureau conveyed condolences and offered support
after the Madrid bombings, and on March 15, congratulated Zapatero for his
party’s victory in the parliamentary election.
Zapatero said that his wish is that his party’s victory will serve to benefit
the international community. “Now more than ever, we need to restore dialogue
and multilateral cooperation in order to change cultural and economic
inequality, which gave rise to terrorist attacks,” Zapatero’s letter
Zapatero is the Secretary General of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party,
which has established close ties with the ARF, since the latter became a
of the Socialist International recently.
Zapatero, who became the youngest member of Spanish parliament in 1986, is
considered moderate, adhering to a more social democratic ideology than
socialist. His right-hand-man is the Galician member of parliament, Jose

4) Oskanian to Meet with Guliyev in Prague

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian announced on Wednesday that
he will meet with his Azeri counterpart later this month for talks, which
should finally clarify whether Baku is ready to revive agreements on Karabagh
reached three years ago.
Oskanian said the meeting will take place in Prague on March 29 in the
presence of the American, French, and Russian mediators leading the Minsk
of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He said he hopes
Azeri Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliyev will officially state “from which point
Azerbaijan is ready to continue negotiations.”
Guliyev said last month that Baku reserves the right to restart the peace
process “from scratch,” again denying any major understandings reached by the
Armenian and Azeri presidents in Paris and the Florida island of Key West in
2001. The statement came after Azeri President Ilham Aliyev’s remarked that he
is not in a hurry to embrace a compromise deal because he believes the
Armenians are more interested in a quick solution to the Karabagh dispute than
his oil-rich nation.
Oskanian again warned that Aliyev will have to negotiate only with the
Karabagh Armenians if he finally decides to walk away from the agreements
reached by his late father and predecessor Heydar and Armenia’s president
Robert Kocharian.
The announcement of the Prague meeting came at a news conference that
Oskanian’s talks with the OSCE’s visiting chairman-in-office, Bulgarian
Minister Solomon Passy. Passy also met with Kocharian and Prime Minister
Andranik Margarian as, well as the president of Mountainous Karabagh Republic
Arkady Ghukasian. The Karabagh conflict was a major topic of the discussions
during which the sides reportedly agreed that “there is no alternative but a
peaceful settlement”
Speaking in Baku on Tuesday, Passy said that the OSCE will continue the
mediation but added that the responsibility is on Armenia and Azerbaijan to
the dispute “with mutual compromises.”
“The OSCE is not capable of miracles and can’t impose a ready solution,” he
said. “History teaches us that with conflicts time always works against us.
later a solution is found, the more painful it may be for the people of the

5) Soprano Arpine Pehlivanian Passes Away

On March 16, Diasporan soprano Arpine Pehlivanian, passed away after
a long term illness. Her dedication to the world of music and her contribution
to the preservation of Armenian musical heritage are part of the legacy she
leaves behind.
She performed in over 800 concerts in Europe, the United States, Canada, the
Middle East, the former Soviet Union, and Africa. Her Carnegie Hall debut was
in 1974. She has performed in most of the internationally known concert halls,
including the Parisian Salle Pleyel, the Salle Gaveau and the Spendiarian
House in Yerevan, Armenia. Her recordings include The Artistry of Arpine
Pehlivanian, (1982 Arzach Productions) Armenian Sacred Music, (1986 BLM
Studios) Armenian Romance Songs, (1997 Hamazkayin) and Armenian Art Songs and
Live Concert.
The lyrico-coloratura soprano earned the highest honors in her field
advanced diplomas in voice and (Summa Cum Laude) from the Lebanese National
Conservatory of Piano. She studied piano under the tutelage of Michel
Cheskinoff, St. Petersburg, American composer Anis Fuleihan, and voice with
Alvarez Boulos, London. Four years of additional study with La Scala soprano
Antonia Perazzi prepared her for the Chigiana Academy in Siena, Italy, where
she earned Diplomas di Merito in Opera Interpretation under Gino Bechi, Vocal
Chamber music under Giorgio Favaretto and Opera Direction under Bruno Rigacci.
The National Symphony of Lebanon appointed Pehlivanian official soloist, a
position she held for 18 years along with academic duties at the Lebanese
Conservatory of Music where she was both a Professor of Voice and Piano and
Director of Opera Interpretation Studies. During that period she was awarded
the Cilician Great Cross with the rank of Knight, the Lebanese National
Said-Akl Cultural Award, and the Syrian Educational Ministry’s Gold Medal.
Pehlivanian, who consistently championed professionalism and artistic
interpretation in the rendition of the Armenian Art Song, was the first singer
from the Diaspora to be invited to perform leading roles with the Spendiarov
Opera House in Yerevan, receiving rave reviews. Called the Ambassadress of
Armenian Song, she premiered the works of many Middle Eastern and Armenian
composers including the American, British, and Middle Eastern premieres of
Khatchaturian’s Agh Tamar.
As concert artist and teacher, she was awarded the Bronze Halo Award (1983)
from the Southern California Motion Picture Council for her contribution to
arts, and the Music Teacher’s Association of California Service Award (1987),
for her contributions to the American Community. She was also a member of the
National Association of Teachers of Singing.
In 1999, the Armenian community in Los Angeles joined together to pay tribute
to the Nightingale of the Armenian Diaspora for her forty years of service in
both the artistic and the academic domains. At her Fortieth Jubilee the late
Karekin I, Catholicos of all Armenians, bestowed on her the most coveted Sts.
Sahag and Mesrob Medal of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin, Armenia. Catholicos
I of the House of Cilicia honored the singer with the first ever Dame of
Cilicia Medal, to be given to women of distinction.
Funeral services will take place on Saturday, March 20, 10:30 am, at the Holy
Cross Church of Montebello.

6) Georgian President To Meet Rebel Region Leader

BATUMI (Reuters)–The leaders of Georgia and its rebellious Ajaria region
agreed on Wednesday to meet to defuse a crisis, which has strained ties with
Georgia’s giant neighbor Russia.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who swept to power in a popular
revolution last year, has been locked in conflict with the leader of
Ajaria Aslan Abashidze, accusing him of hindering free parliamentary elections
due in 11 days.
Saakashvili and Abashidze are due to meet on Thursday in the regional capital
Batumi, a Black Sea port near Turkey, the Ajarian leader told reporters, after
seven hours of talks with Georgian parliamentary speaker Nino Burdzhanadze.
Georgia’s location on Russia’s southern border and work on a key Western oil
pipeline running through it has focused the attention of both Moscow and
Washington on the country.
Forces loyal to Abashidze prevented Saakashvili from entering Ajaria over the
weekend. The president responded by slapping economic sanctions on the region,
cutting rail and road access to Ajaria, closing its airspace, and blocking its
For his meeting on Thursday, Saakashvili will cross the same road checkpoint
where Abashidze’s troops fired a warning shot at his convoy on Sunday, a
presidential spokesman said.
“I am a supporter of the idea that all issues should be solved not by using
force but in a human fashion,” Abashidze told reporters in Batumi, where
soldiers and masked armed loyalists patrolled the streets and waterfront.


“We have to do everything to make sure tomorrow’s meeting is meaningful,”
Burdzhanadze, a Saakashvili ally, adding that the blockade might “no longer be
an issue” after the talks.
The blockade has stopped oil shipments from a 200,000 barrel per day terminal
at Batumi.
Burdzhanadze previously played a key role in persuading pro-Russian Abashidze
to allow presidential elections in Ajaria in January that resulted in a
landslide victory for Saakashvili, a 36-year-old nationalist backed by the
United States.
Ex-Soviet Georgia has had uneasy relations with its old colonial master,
Russia, for most of the 12 years since the Soviet Union collapsed–often
arising from Georgian suspicions that Moscow was trying to profit from
autonomous movements.
In an unannounced exercise, a Russian military base near Batumi fired rounds
of tank shells into the sea on Tuesday where the Georgian coastguard was
Russia has urged Saakashvili to find a peaceful way out of the current crisis.
But its tacit sympathy for Ajaria became clear when Moscow’s flamboyant mayor
Yuri Luzhkov–a powerful politician at home–flew in on Tuesday to show
solidarity with Abashidze, causing consternation among Georgian officials.
Luzhkov, who has business interests in the construction industry, is a close
associate of Abashidze and Moscow building firms have picked up many lucrative
contracts in Ajaria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov showed some unease over Luzhkov,
dodging a direct question on his exact mission.
He said Luzhkov was there in an “inter-regional” context, adding: “Given
Luzhkov’s efforts have the support of the Russian leadership.” He said
indications that Saakashvili would meet Luzhkov offered hope for a solution.
The parliamentary elections on March 28 are a rerun of a poll last November
when veteran leader Eduard Shevardnadze was still in power. That vote was
widely seen as rigged.
Allies of Saakashvili are expected to do well and to support his efforts to
cut corruption, unite the divided Caucasus nation of around 4.5 million
and press for Russia to withdraw from two military bases.
Georgia has two openly separatist regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where
Tbilisi no longer exerts any control.

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