ASBAREZ Online [03-22-2004]

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03/22/2004
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1) Aliyev, Oskanian Exchange Jabs on Karabagh
2) Command Staff Exercises in Armenia
3) EU’s Talvitie Visit to Armenia
4) Kocharian Removes Additional Senior Prosecutors
5) Mekhitarian School Celebrates 25th, Honors Father Augustine’s Contributions

1) Aliyev, Oskanian Exchange Jabs on Karabagh

YEREVAN (Armenpress/RFE/RL)–In a speech to a conference on European
integration held in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava late last week, Azeri
president Ilham Aliyev spoke extensively about the Mountainous Karabagh
conflict, and announced that the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be
restored. “The Armenian party tries to justify its aggression and occupation,
and speaks about the right to self-determination,” Aliyev charged, saying that
Armenians have already gained independence, and have a country and state. He
called for a demilitarization of the region, comparing the presence of foreign
military troops in Armenia, and none in Azerbaijan. “When there is no foreign
military presence in the region, all conflicts will be regulated.”
Representing Armenia at the conference, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, in
an interview to RFE/RL, said it is absurd to draw such parallels. “It is
obvious that the presence of Armenian population in Karabagh is much older
than
the Azerbaijani Republic, and drawing parallels between the presence of
Armenians in other countries is ridiculous,” Oskanian said, pointing to
Aliyev’s statement as strengthening the Armenian position. “The people of
Mountainous Karabagh indeed have the right to self-determination because this
self-determination is different than others. This is the case when the people
want to gain independence on the territory which has no legal or historical
connection to Azerbaijan.”
Oskanian dismissed links between Aliyev’s call for the demilitarization of
Caucasus and the conflict in Mountainous Karabagh, adding that there is, in
fact, a Russian military presence at the Gabala radar station–a more
strategic
positioning than the physical presence of Russian forces in Armenia or
Georgia.
“Aliyev said this just to please some circles,” stated Oskanian.
Also attending the Bratislavia conference was Oskanian’s Azeri counterpart
Vilayat Guliyev, who alleged he challenged Oskanian to substantiate Armenian
claims that Kocharian and Aliyev’s late father and predecessor Heydar had
agreed on a framework peace deal during talks in Paris and on the Florida
island of Key West three years ago. “I reminded him of his statement and told
him to show me the papers,” Guliyev said, according to the ATV report
monitored
by the BBC. “He said that he will send them by fax on his return to Yerevan.”
“I asked whether the papers had been signed. He said he did not have signed
papers. I said–if there are no signed papers, then what kind of agreement
could we talk about?”
Reacting to the remarks on Monday, the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan said they
only prove the existence of the Key West agreements. “We are glad that Mr.
Guliyev has at last admitted that there is a written document certifying
agreements reached in Paris and Key West even though it has not been signed
yet,” ministry spokesman Hamlet Gasparian said. “Had it been signed, the
Karabagh conflict would have already been resolved.”
Armenia maintains that Aliyev senior scrapped the agreements shortly after
returning home from Key West. Baku denies this, saying that no specific deals
were cut. But according to the chief US negotiator on Karabagh, Rudolf Perina,
the parties were “incredibly close” to a peaceful settlement at the time.
Guliyev and Oskanian are scheduled to hold another meeting in Prague next
week. The talks will be mediated by Perina and the French and Russian
co-chairs
of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Oskanian has said he hopes they will finally clarify whether or not Baku will
ever revive the Key West deal.

2) Command Staff Exercises in Armenia

YEREVAN (PanARMENIAN.Net)–Technical, rear, and medical units of Armenia’s
Armed Forces will conduct command staff exercises in Armenia, March 23-27.
The defense ministry reported the exercise will be held within the framework
of the program “Plan of Readiness for 2004,” and conducted under the
command of
Armenia’s colonel-general Mikael Harutyunian, who heads the general staff of
the Armed Forces.
During the initial stage of the exercises, reservists will be called to
service in order to integrate with the troops.

3) EU’s Talvitie Visit to Armenia

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–European Union’s special representative for the South
Caucasus Heikki Talvitie will arrive in Armenia on Tuesday to meet with
President Robert Kocharian, Prime Minister Andranik Margarian, Foreign
Minister
Vartan Oskanian, speaker of Armenia’s parliament Arthur Baghdasarian, human
rights ombudsman Larisa Alaverdian, as well as other parliament members and
court officials.

4) Kocharian Removes Additional Senior Prosecutors

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian continued a reshuffle of his
security cabinet on Monday, dismissing four district prosecutors in Yerevan.
The presidential decree followed last week’s unexpected removal of
Prosecutor-General Aram Tamazian and over a dozen high-level staff changes in
the Armenian police. Kocharian met with the leadership of the national Police
Service on Friday. Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, he said the role
and prestige of the Prosecutor’s Office having decreased under Tamazian, needs
to be restored in order to strengthen the rule of law.
“It must be restored with the help of people who have the skills to do that,”
he said, promising more replacements in the law-enforcement agency.

5) Mekhitarian School Celebrates 25th, Honors Father Augustine’s Contributions

LOS ANGELES–The Mkhitarian Armenian School celebrated the 25th anniversary of
its opening, as well as Father Augustine Sezekoula’s 60 years of literary and
cultural activities. Spiritual leaders, dignitaries, representatives of area
organizations and institutions, as well as school officials and benefactors
were all on hand to mark the two great milestones.
Co-emceeing the event were 1995 graduates Veronica Kouyoumjian and Vicken
Naljian, who smoothly conducted the program in Armenian and English.
Among the many honors extended to Father Augustine for his numerous
contributions were certificates of recognition from US Congressman Adam Schiff
and LA Supervisor Michael Antonovich, and an honorary professorship in
Armenian
Studies from Mashdots College.

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