ASBAREZ Online [03-26-2004]


1) Armenia’s Ruling Coalition Issues Statement
2) US Looks to `Reinvigorate’ Ties with Armenia
3) ANCA and Supporters to Sponsor Major Kerry Campaign Event
4) ARF Dro Gomideh Raises $50,000 for Mesrobian School
5) AYF Members Participate in Annual Educational Seminar
6) April 24 Announcement

1) Armenia’s Ruling Coalition Issues Statement

Parliament faction leaders of the three political parties comprising Armenia’s
coalition government released a joint statement on Friday that was
presented to
parliament by Levon Mkrtchian (ARF), Galust Sahakian (Republican), and Samvel
Balasanian (Orinats Yerkir).

The following is the full text of that statement:

Exploiting the unresolved socioeconomic problems of the population,
and calls are currently being made to provoke popular unrest and change of
The political coalition has never claimed that the Republic is void of
problems, including social ones. The issue has become more and more visible
during coalition representative visits to regions of the country. Moreover,
awareness of collective responsibility and the will to resolve these issues
the basis for the coalition’s existence.
Thus, the political coalition, formed as a result of parliamentary election,
The coalition, having ardently analyzed the situation in the period following
the parliamentary election, has adopted a comprehensive approach to finding
fundamental solutions to existing problems and ensuring a development program
for the country;
Realistic programs have been created to ensure the country’s stability;
The coalition is determined and consistent in solving the problems facing the
country, and 2004 will be a decisive year for delivering on pre-election
The government is formed by means of elections, not during the period between
elections. Any attempt to draw the country into fresh electoral processes
imperil the security of our state which is faced with numerous challenges;
The political forces of the coalition are united and resolute in achieving
goals of our Memorandum–to improve the social conditions of the people,
overcome poverty, and fight corruption.
The coalition is confident that fulfillment of its programs will introduce
visible benefits to each citizen;
The coalition declares that attempts to violate the country’s constitutional
law and order must be prevented with a resolute and adequate reaction from
competent bodies.

2) US Looks to `Reinvigorate’ Ties with Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said the
States is satisfied with its existing cooperation with Armenia and would like
to expand it, as he paid a brief visit to Yerevan on Friday.
Armitage, the most high-ranking US official to visit the country in more than
four years, also reaffirmed Washington’s strong support for the reopening of
the Turkish-Armenian border and ruled out stronger US pressure on Armenia and
Azerbaijan to resolve the Karabagh conflict.
`I came today at the request of President Bush because we’ve been spending a
lot of time on Afghanistan and on Iraq, and we haven’t had the same amount of
involvement in the Caucasus,’ he told RFE/RL. `Armenia is a very important
country to us and we wanted to reinvigorate our relationship.’
Armitage, who arrived in Armenia from Ukraine and proceeded to Azerbaijan
later on Wednesday, said the purpose of the trip is to have `normal political
consultations on regional, global, and bilateral issues.’ `I didn’t come
with a
specific message,’ he said after a meeting with Foreign Minister Vartan
Oskanian that preceded his talks with President Robert Kocharian.
`We have a very high degree of cooperation with Armenia. I would even note
that Armenia is making some people available from the military to be involved
in Iraq in convoying and what not. I think that speaks very well of the
The comments were reciprocated by Kocharian, who was quoted as telling the US
official that he supports `the expansion of bilateral cooperation.’ `President
Kocharian expressed his satisfaction with the current level of
Armenian-American relations,’ reported his press office.
As the number two man at the US State Department, Armitage is the first
member of the Bush administration to visit Armenia. `I am delighted with the
time I have had with the foreign minister and the president,’ Armitage told a
concluding news conference.
The Karabagh conflict was a major theme of the talks. But no details were
divulged to the media, with Armitage vaguely noting that `there is a
possibility eventually of a resolution.’ He made it clear that the
responsibility is on the conflicting parties to find a mutually acceptable
peace formula and nothing will be imposed on them “top down from the
Armitage also disagreed with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev’s claim that a
Karabagh settlement will become impossible if Turkey lifts its economic
blockade imposed on Armenia in 1993 out of solidarity with Azerbaijan. `It
seems to me that the opening of the border between Armenia and Turkey would
benefit the peoples of both sides rather dramatically and relatively quickly,’
he said. `We have had those discussions with our friends in Turkey.’
The US has long been unsuccessfully pressing Turkey to reopen the border for
commerce and traffic. The current government in Ankara signaled last year its
readiness to do that before a Karabagh settlement but has not yet taken any
steps in that direction. According to Armitage, the Turks have since been
distracted by other, more pressing national security issues.
He said: `I think to be fair, our Turkish friends have had their hands full
recently with concerns about northern Iraq and the ongoing Cyprus talks. I
that as those concerns are ameliorated there will be a return of their
attention to reopening of some border.’
In a related development, the Armenian side renewed calls for the US to
maintain parity in its modest military assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Bush administration’s proposed budget for the fiscal year 2005 would
allocate $8 million in military funding to Baku, four times more than to
The proposal has provoked angry protests from the Armenian-American lobbying
groups and pro-Armenian members of the US Congress. The Armenian government
endorsed their argument that the aid disparity could undermine the balance of
forces in the conflict zone.
But Armitage insisted that it is justified because Azerbaijan, unlike
has already sent combat troops to Iraq and Afghanistan and has been refueling
on its territory US military aircraft bound for Iraq. `It was also noted by
Armenian side that our overall levels of assistance to Armenia are much
than to Azerbaijan,’ he said, but added that `he temporary disparity is based
on the need to relieve some of the burden on Azerbaijan.’

3) ANCA and Supporters to Sponsor Major Kerry Campaign Event

LOS ANGELES–National, regional, and local leaders and supporters of the
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) are sponsoring a major
in Beverly Hills for Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry of
The event will be held on March 30, at the home of noted Los Angeles
businessman Ron Burkle, and will feature a concert by James Taylor, and
by former Secretary of State William Christopher. ANCA supporters are among
leading contributors of the event, expected to raise over half a million
dollars for the Kerry campaign.
`We have been encouraged by the enthusiastic outpouring of support for the
Senator and the growing interest in his campaign from all segments of the
Armenian American community,’ said ANCA-Western Region Chairman Raffi
Hamparian. `We have, for more than two decades, known of Senator Kerry’s
principled leadership on issues of concern to our community, and look forward
to doing all we can to share his excellent record with Armenian American
in the weeks and months before the November 2 election.’
During his long tenure in the US House and Senate, Senator Kerry has
consistently been a leading advocate of issues of concern to Armenian
Americans. As a US Senator, Kerry has forcefully fought for US recognition of
the Armenian Genocide, and is currently a cosponsor of the Genocide
S.Res.164. In 1990, Senator Kerry voted on the Senate floor for Senator Bob
Dole’s (R-KS) Genocide Resolution.
Meeting with ANCA-WR Executive Director Ardashes Kassakhian and ANC activist
Mihran Toumajan last September, the Senator acknowledged the support of many
Armenian Americans during his political career. Specifically referencing the
Armenian Genocide, the Senator spoke of the Genocide Resolution, and promised
continued advocacy. “It is called justice, and we will get there together,”
pledged Senator Kerry. “I was incensed when the Turkish lobby and its allies
disrupted the bill in the Senate before,” Kerry added, referring to the 1990
vote on Sen. Dole’s Genocide Resolution.
The Massachusetts Senator has been a vocal and effective champion of stronger
US-Armenia relations and has consistently backed legislative initiative to
increase aid and expand trade with Armenia. He is currently a cosponsor of
legislation, S.1557, which would grant Armenia permanent normal trade
Senator Kerry has spearheaded a number of initiatives to lift the Turkish and
Azerbaijani blockades. In 1991, he was the lead sponsor of a piece of
legislation, that was later enacted as Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act,
restricting US aid to the government of Azerbaijan until its blockades of
Armenia and Mountainous Karabagh are lifted. He also worked for the
adoption of
the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act, which called for US aid to Turkey to be cut
off unless Turkey lifted its blockade of Armenia. As recently as this January,
Senator Kerry formally called on President Bush to press the visiting Prime
Minister of Turkey to lift his nation’s illegal blockade of Armenia.
First elected in 1984 from Massachusetts, Sen. Kerry is currently serving a
fourth term in the US Senate, where he represents one of the largest Armenian
American communities. He serves on the Senate Finance Committee, the Committee
on Commerce, Science and Transportation, the Committee on Foreign Relations,
and the Subcommittee on Central Asia and South Caucasus.
For two differing perspectives on the Bush Administration’s record on
American issues, visit:

Armenian American Democratic Leadership Council

National Organization of Republican Armenians

4) ARF Dro Gomideh Raises $50,000 for Mesrobian School

MONTEBELLO–For the second year in a row, a dinner dance organized at the
Montebello Armenian Center by the ARF San Gabriel “Dro” Gomideh raised a
resounding $50,000 for the Mesrobian Armenian School of Pico Rivera.
Nearly 400 guests were on hand on March 6, in support of the educational
institution and local Gomideh.
The highlight of the evening featured a tribute to long-time educator and one
of the charter instructors at Mesrobian School Roubina Pakradouni, who retired
last year after 50 years of devoted and caring service to Armenian education.
With distinction, she taught Armenian elementary students for 12 years in
Lebanon, then 38 more years at Mesrobian School.
Pakradouni spoke briefly and emotionally, thanking the Gomideh for the honor,
as well as members of her family for their support, former teachers and, in
particular, her 94-year-old mother, Manoushak Nakashian Pakradouni, who was
present to witness the honor.
Dro Gomideh Chariman Sarkis Sassounian reiterated the Gomideh’s commitment to
the Mesrobian School in a spirit embodying Armenian education, civic
dedication, and the pursuit of Armenian national aspirations.
Guests gave selflessly to $42,000, that included a generous contribution of
$12,500 by the Nourian family. To round out the number and match last year’s
amount, the Dro Gomideh added $8,000, to take to total to $50,000.

5) AYF Members Participate in Annual Educational Seminar

Over 100 AYF members from eight chapters gathered at AYF Camp Big Pines March
19-21 for the Annual AYF Educational Seminar.
The weekend featured lectures and discussions on developments within the ARF
at the 29th World Congress, activism in the American political system, and
ideological undertakings.
Innovative methods in presenting educational topics, combined with a
and social atmosphere, provided the opportunity for members to learn about
political activism and the ARF.
The education program included a mock presidential election conducted by
chairman of the ANCA-WR Raffi Hamparian, and a discussion on the ARF’s 29th
World Congress presented by ARF Western Region CC Chairman Hovig Saliba.

6) April 24 Announcement

With the participation of Southern California Armenian organizations, a
committee to mark the 89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide has been
formed, and announces that a public gathering will be held at the Montebello
Armenian Genocide Monument on Saturday, April 24, 1-3 PM.

A unique program featuring, among others, state and federal political figures
has been prepared.

Additional details will soon be provided to the press.

Armenian Genocide 89th Anniversary
Commemorative Committee

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