Newsletter from, date: 15-03-2004 to 23-03-2004

[19-03-2004 ‘1915 Issues’]
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Source : `Echo’ newspaper (Azerbaijan)

Opposing the Statement by UK Ambassador Thorda Abbot-Watt

Yesterday Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia sent a diplomatic
note to UK government in view of the statement by the ambassador of
this country in Armenia, Thorda Abbot-Watt on the issue of the
so-called `Armenian Genocide’. `Novosti’ RIA reports it with reference
to MFA of Armenia press service. “Great Britain accepts that the
events of 1915 were mass killings the responsible for which are the
Turks. But, I do not think that recognizing the events as genocide
would be of much use’, Abbot-Watt declared. The statement by the
British Ambassador raised diplomatic scandal. The representatives of
Armenian public and Armenian Diaspora in USA, Great Britain, France
and other countries officially condemned the statement by
Abbot-Watt. Thus, according to Armenian Assembly of Europe, the
International Group on Recognition and Prevention of Genocides called
upon the UK Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jack Straw to reconsider
appropriateness of Thorda Abbot-Watt’s further activity as the
ambassador of this country in Armenia.

According to the authors of the letter, by denying the Armenian
Genocide the British ambassador aggravates the wound of the Armenian
people and discourages all those who have experience with the
consequences of Genocide denial. “As an international NGO we urge you
to consider the issue whether Abbot-Watt may continue its diplomatic
mission in Armenia, where half of the population are descendants of
Genocide survivors. Moreover, the fact is that she is not familiar
with the historical realities and international relations and
constantly makes incompetent and insulting statements’, the text
runs. Yerevan pro-government press also started a campaign aimed at
British ambassador’s recall from Armenia.

“Some countries recognized the Armenian Genocide, others didn’t. Each
government sticks to its own position on this issue. However, the
ambassadors of all countries on the Armenian land should approach this
emotional issue with all due care and tact”, MFA press secretary,
Hamlet Gasparian noted.

In the opinion of former foreign affairs minister of Azerbaijan, Tofik
Zulfugarov, it is one more propaganda scandal of Armenians. According
to the latter, the position stated by the British ambassador reflects
the official position of Great Britain on the given issue. The
Azerbaijani diplomat thinks it highly questionable that UK authorities
may take the initiative of recalling the ambassador. The reason is
that the International Group on Recognition and Prevention of
Genocides is an NGO, whereas the policy of official authorities runs
contrary to the view by an NGO. `In my opinion, all of this occurs in
the world because of a certain influence of stereotypes on public
opinion formation in Armenia’.

In his turn, political scientist Vafa Guluzade holds that demanding
the recall of the British ambassador, Armenia demonstrates its poor
political culture. “An ambassador is entitled to express his/her
opinion on historical events. What Armenians are speaking about is a
matter of ancient history. The world has not recognized the Armenian
Genocide’, he added.

At the same time the political scientist holds that this scandal will
in no way impact British-Armenian relations since they are factually
non-existent. “Britain and other states are not interested in
Armenia. This country lacks any national resources. It is not
Azerbaijan which is a strategically significant country located in the
Caspian region and rich in oil and gas resources’, Guluzade states.

Besides, as Guluzade notes, Armenia is not an independent state since
it is actually a part of Russia. Armenian industry and all Armenian
energy system is Russia’s property. In his opinion, the diplomatic
scandal will eventually end by the Armenians’ quieting down all the

It is not the first campaign against the ambassadors on the issue of
`Genocide’. In 2002 during his press conference Israeli ambassador to
Armenia and Georgia, Rivko Koen came forward with a protest against
identification of the Armenian `Genocide’ with Jewish Holocaust. In
response, the representatives of the Armenian Diaspora pressed the
Armenian officials to immediately expel the ambassador from the
country. Israeli authorities, ignoring the official notes of the
Armenian government, supported the position taken by their diplomat.

[18-03-2004 ‘Region’]
Source : Yerevan Press Club Weekly Newsletter
Author: Elina Poghosbekian

On May 7-14 a group of 19 Armenian and Azerbaijani journalists visited
Cyprus. The trip was organized by Yerevan and Baku Press Clubs under a
bilateral project `Possible Resolutions to the Karabagh Conflict:
Expert Evaluations and Media Coverage’, supported by Network Media
Program of Open Society Institute. Assistance in the preparation and
the realization of the visit was provided by Press and Information
Office of the Interior Ministry of Republic of Cyprus and personally
its representative Loucas Louca, the Press Department of the Embassy
of Republic of Cyprus in Russian Federation, the Chairman of the
Cyprus Journalists Union Andreas Kannaouros, Press and Information
Office of the Government of Northern Cyprus.

The purpose of the visit of this – as the hosts invariably noted, for
the first time so numerous – group of representatives media and
journalistic associations of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Mountainous
Karabagh was to try and gain an insight into the Cyprus problem and,
possibly, draw parallels with realities of our region.

The thirty-year-old – since 1974 – history on negotiations on the
reunion of Northern and Southern Cyprus may be drawing to its
end. Should the direct dialogue of the internationally recognized
Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish community of the island fall flat
till March 22, according to the plan of the UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan and under his auspices, the guaranteeing countries, Greece and
Turkey, would join the talks. Should this stage end in a failure too,
Kofi Annan will present his final proposals. If this version of the
plan is again disagreed on by the parties, the final solution will be
given by simultaneously conducted referenda in the North and the South
of the island. The suggested referendum date is April 21 – a most
remarkable month in the newest history of Cypriots.

After the military coup in Athens on April 21, 1967 and the `black
colonels’ assuming power, on July 15, 1974 an attempt to join Cyprus
to Greece was made that resulted in the entry of Turkish troops on the

On April 23, 2003 free movement was allowed across the so-called
`green’ line of separation. According to the Spokesman of the
Government of Republic of Cyprus Kypros Chrysostomides, after the
border opening, about ten thousand of Turk and Greek Cypriots cross it
and not a single incident was registered. “Is it not the best proof
that the two communities can and want to live together?’,
Mr. Chrysostomides stresses.

Finally, the freedom of movement enabled the Turk Cypriots to receive
passports of Republic of Cyprus. According to the figures of RC
Interior Ministry, currently 13.5 thousand of `Northerners’ have such
passports. For those unaware I will explain the significance of the
moment: on May 1, 2004, RC is joining the European Union and,
therefore, the zone of free movement for its citizens is significantly
expanded. However the RC Interior Minister Andreas Christou places
equal emphasis on the fact of `local importance’ – since this same
April last year 34 thousand of Cypriot Turks received identification
cards. `Overall, in our archive we have records of having issued such
ID cards to 115 thousand Cypriot Turks’, the Minister noted.

Our meeting with Prime Minister of the unrecognized Turkish Republic
of Northern Cyprus Mehmet Ali Talat was before his departure to Ankara
for consultations with the Government of Turkey – the only country
that has officially recognized the TRNC. The nearest future will show
what reflection these consultations will have on the position of the
new (since 2003) head of the Government, the leader of opposition
Republican Turkish Party. Mehmet Ali Talat believes that `the
political unification of the island is one of our main tasks’. `We do
realize that this cannot continue, the situation where the Northern
Cyprus is not internationally recognized, exists in a closed system,
must be changed. Nothing good will happen if the Southern Cyprus joins
the European Union, and we do not’, the Prime Minister confesses and
adds that if the referenda on the unification yield no result, a
question of who is to blame will arise. The President of TRNC Rauf
Denktas is more radical and insists on the confederation of two
sovereign states.

The option proposed by Denktas for Greek Cypriots is absolutely
unacceptably, but there are smaller stumbling blocks, or, as Prime
Minister Talat put it, questions that are being traded. What will be
the fate of migrants from Turkey, who are said to be more numerous in
Northern Cyprus than the indigenous inhabitants? No specific figures
are given, as the Greek party maintains, they make about 125-130
thousands, while according to the estimates of the Turkish party they
are 35% of the 200-thousand population of the North. Who of these
people that have already settled on the island will be able to stay,
and who will have to leave, having received compensation? What is the
percentage of Cypriot refugees from both sides and how long their
re-settlement will last? What will the compensation for their property
left in the North or South be? Greek Cypriots announce about the 35-40
thousand Turkish military troops. The leaders of the Turkish community
do not give specific number in this regard. What will be the further
presence of foreign troops (besides Turkish, there are British and
Greek soldiers) in both parts of the island?

This and number of other questions, also referring to the organization
and administration of the island, have answers given by Annan’s plan,
by Greek and Turkish Cypriots. And almost all of them differ.

The RC Interior Minister Mr. Christou believes in reunification via
economic ties, which are becoming all the intensive after the opening
of the `green’ line. He is more concerned with the question what will
the cost of the reunion be for Cyprus? `In my opinion, this will take
6 billion pounds (13 billion USD – Ed.), the maximalists speak about
16 billion. One thing is certain – we will not be unable to ensure the
viability of the state without donors’, Mr. Christou says. The annual
revenue of Greek Cypriots (16 thousand per capita) today is higher not
only than that of Turk Cypriots, but also than that of such `old’ EU
members as Greece and Portugal. Will the `Southerners’ agree to
tighten their belts for the reunification is another open
question. Its answer, I believe, greatly preconditions the `yes’ of
the Greek community to the reunification in case of the
referenda. Both the Greek and the Turkish parties in their referendum
forecasts were reticent.

At the Southern approaches to Famagusta flags of RC and Greece are
flapping. A bit farther – on another deserted building with its
windows and doorways blocked with bricks the flags of TRNC and Turkey
are flown. On the building facade a poster is attached: `Cyprus will
never be Greek’. This is how Famagusta looks when you gaze at it with
a binocular from the South. `This is truly a ghost city’, I thought,
as I directed the lenses at the skeletons of dead buildings. `Is this
the same Famagusta?!’ The North dazzled us with expansive construction
of countless glamorous cottages, villas, bed-and-breakfasts of white,
red, green… The rumor goes that not only the Turkish but also the
Greek capital is involved in an effort to return the past glory to the
city – one of the best resorts on the Mediterranean. The businessmen
are prudent folk and are investing in stability…

The Minister of Interior of RC Andreas Christou is confident, that the
intercommunal economic ties along with the institutional frameworks
established by the EU will enable to solve the Cyprus problem very
fast. `We will re-learn walking, having the bitter, but the good
example of co-existence.’

The X hour for Cyprus will be on May 1. Will this May Day signal its
accession to European family reunited, or the 30-year separation will
continue? Little time is left. One thing is certain: the changes in
the atmosphere in both South and North do inspire some optimism.

It is much harder to predict, whether we – the Armenian and
Azerbaijani journalists that happened to find themselves on the
hospitable Island of Aphrodite right on the eve of `moment of truth` –
will `re-learn walking’. So alas, it is still too early to draw
parallels with the realities of South Caucasus. But the second purpose
of our visit was the discussion of further cooperation between the
journalistic associations and media of the two countries.

[16-03-2004 ‘1915 Issues’]
Source : “Hurriyet” newspaper (Turkey)

600 milliard Turkish liras will be spent for restoration of the
Mausoleum of Turkish Genocide executed by the Armenians.

`The Genocide Mausoleum’ was founded by the first mayor Igdir
Shemseddin Uzun and is the symbol of the city. The Mausoleum was
opened in 1996 by the ninth President of Turkey Suleyman Demirel and
former President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliev. The granite flags of the
Mausoleum, where a museum is located, started to crumble. Therefore
the municipality issued a decision on the start of restoration
works. 600 milliard Turkish liras will be spent for the restoration.

Yerevan Press Club of Armenia, ‘Yeni Nesil’ Journalists’ Union of
Azerbaijan and Association of Diplomacy Correspondents of Turkey
present ‘Armenia-Azerbaijan-Turkey: Journalist Initiative-2002’
Project. As a part of the project web site has
been designed, featuring the most interesting publications from the
press of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey on issues of mutual
concern. The latest updates on the site are weekly delivered to the