ASBAREZ Online [03-30-2004]


1) Five Armenians Elected to Georgian Parliament
2) Parliament Inquiry Slams Misuse of Loans
3) Coalition Parties Caution Opposition to Practice Vigilance
4) Montana 32nd State to Recognize the Armenian Genocide
5) Never Mind the Bullocks. . . Here is the Skeptik!

1) Five Armenians Elected to Georgian Parliament

TBILISI (Armenpress)–Five Armenians were elected to Georgia’s parliament in
the March 28 nationwide elections. Two Armenians Melik Raisian and Van
Bayburdian, were reelected from a proportional list of the governing
while Henzel Mkoyan, Hamlet Movsisian, and Hayk Miltonian were elected by a
single mandate. Six Armenians previously served in Georgia’s parliament.
There was high voter turnout in Georgia’s predominantly Armenian-populated
region of Javakhk, with 90% of eligible voters casting ballots. In the
Akhalkalak region, approximately 30,000 of 33,000 registered voters turned
in Ninotsminda, 17,200 of 18,300; in Tsalka, 9,000 out of 13,000; and in
Akhaltsikha, 11,000 out of 15,000. The majority in all regions voted in favor
of the ruling bloc.

2) Parliament Inquiry Slams Misuse of Loans

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Presenting the findings of a parliamentary commission
studying the use of financial and humanitarian assistance to Armenia, National
Assembly Vice-speaker and commission chairman Vahan Hovhannisian, challenged
government claims that the situation with water supplies in the capital has
markedly improved since the launch of the scheme in 1999.
The interim report was issued by the ad hoc commission of the Armenian
parliament that was set up last September to investigate the use of nearly $3
billion in external loans, grants, and other assistance received by Armenia
since independence.
A $30 million project to improve supplies of drinking water in Yerevan has
failed to achieve its main objectives to due a serious misuse of the funds
provided by the World Bank, according to the commission’s findings released on
According to the State Committee on Water Resources, the average Yerevan
household currently has running water for more than nine hours a day and will
enjoy the round-the-clock supplies by the end of the year. But Hovannisian,
is also one of the two deputy speakers of the assembly, said the official
figure is grossly exaggerated.
He cited the example of the city’s Davitashen district where $5.8 million of
the World Bank loans has been spent. The authorities were supposed to ensure
24-hour supplies there by the beginning of this year. The commission report
says most local residents have running water for between 10 and 12 hours a
despite having installed water meters.
The introduction of meters has been a key element in the government’s
reform and restructuring the country’s obsolete water and sewerage network.
Most Armenians have already bought and installed them at their expense. A
typical urban household needed two such devices in their apartments and
paid an
equivalent of $15 a piece. Hovannisian said a water meter was in fact worth
between $5 and $6, accusing the government’s water agency and Yerevan’s
operator of making $6.5 million in “unjustified” profits from their sale.
The commission report also criticizes the fact that 27 percent of the World
Bank funds have been spent on project management, overhead, and logistics.
includes $5 million paid to the Italian firm A-Utility that has run Yerevan’s
water and sewerage network since the launch of the project.
Hovannisian said the commission will recommend that the government not extend
its management contract with A-Utility after the project’s completion this
summer. He said the network has failed to reduce continuing huge leaks of
drinking water.
Government officials admit that as much as 60 percent of the water is being
lost before reaching households. They say substantial capital investments are
needed to reconstruct the aging Soviet-era network of pipes.
The publication of the parliamentary report follows last week’s dismissal of
Gagik Martirosian, the longtime head of the State Committee on Water
It is not clear if there is any connection between the two developments.
There was no immediate reaction to the report from the government. Officials
at the World Bank’s Yerevan office declined a comment, saying that they have
not yet received the document. They had earlier praised the implementation of
the infrastructure project.

3) Coalition Parties Caution Opposition to Practice Vigilance

YEREVAN (Armenpress/RFE/RL)–Responding to opposition calls to topple
President, ARF National Assembly faction member Hrair Karapetian, pointing to
the legitimacy of the government, said that attempts to disrupt law and order
would be countered.
“We admonish those announcements whose authors not only insult, but
succeed in
also assaulting and degrading the majority of the population which voted for
the authorities–that assail the president of the republic, as well as those
forces assisting the government. Such announcements seek to only dissolve the
country’s governmental structure, and splinter society to bring about
irrevocable consequences,” Karapetian warned during a special session of
parliament during which factions and individual deputies are able to read out
statements on any issue.
Karapetian offered, instead, the carrying out of political clashes in a
healthy political arena.
“I call on all political forces to sit at the round table and refrain from
making calls disseminating hatred and hostility,” said Samvel Balasanian, the
parliamentary leader of the Orinats Yerkir Party, the Republican Party’s (HHK)
junior coalition partner.
“There is still time and political forces must display the will to address
country’s problems through dialogue and political mechanisms,” said Samvel
Nikoyan, a senior lawmaker from the Republican Party (HHK). “We are
prepared to
shoulder responsibility for organizing such a dialogue.”
Opposition leaders, however, said they remain determined to try to oust
President Robert Kocharian with sustained street protests planned for the
beginning of next month.
The opposition lawmakers, who have been boycotting regular National Assembly
sessions for more than a month, showed up to take the opportunity to spread
their tough anti-Kocharian message. They were quick to dismiss the coalition
offer. “We are ready for dialogue with any political force provided that
Kocharian resigns,” said Victor Dallakian of the Artarutyun (Justice)

Dallakian added that Artarutyun and the opposition National Unity Party will
jointly start “the process of toppling Kocharian’s regime” before April 13.
“Together we are united and determined to fulfill the people’s will, restore
constitutional order and form a legitimate government in Armenia,” he said.
President Kocharian, through a spokesman, warned that opposition threats to
force him into resignation with street protests are unconstitutional and will
be dealt with accordingly. “The opposition has adopted a baseless and
aggressive position,” the presidential press secretary Ashot Kocharian said.
“The opposition actions carry elements running counter to criminal
legislation. In particular, there are calls for a violent regime change.”
“Unsanctioned rallies are fraught with criminally punishable actions directed
against public order,” the spokesman warned.
The opposition has promised a campaign of demonstrations outside the
presidential palace and parliament building in Yerevan similar to the November
“revolution of roses” in neighboring Georgia. “Kocharian may not resign,
but he
will be unable to control the situation and govern the country de facto,” said
another Artarutyun leader Albert Bazeyan.
Armenia’s leading businessmen have expressed concern at the mounting
tensions. In a joint statement issued late Monday, they effectively sided with
the authorities, saying that a destabilization of the political situation
have negative effects on the struggling Armenian economy. The statement was
read out by the chairman of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs
“I myself see no danger in [peaceful] rallies,” Ghazarian said. “That is the
constitutional right of our citizens. I only hope that that it will be done in
accordance with the law and the constitution.”

4) Montana 32nd State to Recognize the Armenian Genocide

WASHINGTON, DC (ANCA)–Montana became the 32nd US state to recognize the
Armenian Genocide, joining with the Armenian American community and all people
of good conscience in honoring the victims of this crime against humanity,
reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Governor Judy Martz, in a letter of recognition sent to the ANCA, stated: “I
am pleased to recognize your achievements to bring awareness and
recognition to
the one and one-half million Christian Armenian men, women and children who
were victims of the brutal genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish
Government from 1915 to 1923.” She went on to explain that recognition of the
89th anniversary of the genocide is “crucial to guarding against repetition of
future genocides.”
On Monday, Montana joined 31 states that have already recognized the Armenian
Genocide through Governor proclamations or adoption of State resolutions,
including: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut,
Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York,
North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina,
Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
“I am proud of Gov. Martz’s principled stand recognizing the Armenian
and joining with our community in this solemn remembrance. I can only hope
our legislators in Washington will take similar action through passage of the
Genocide Resolution in the House and Senate,” said Montana resident and
lifelong ANC activist Yedvart Tchakerian.
Armenian American activist Bob Semonian, a long-time friend of the Montana
Governor, played a key role in introducing the matter to Governor Martz.


April 2004

On behalf of citizens of the State of Montana, I am pleased to recognize your
achievements to bring awareness and recognition to the one and one-half
Christian Armenian men, women and children who were victims of the brutal
genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish Government from 1915 to 1923.
The Armenian genocide and massacres of Armenian people have been
recognized as
an attempt to eliminate all traces of a thriving and noble civilization over
3,000 years old. Recognition of the eighty-ninth anniversary of this genocide
is crucial to guarding against the repetition of future genocide and educating
people about the atrocities connected to these horrific events.
I urge recognition of their plight on April 24th, 2004, which is nationally
recognized as a Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923.

5) Never Mind the Bullocks. . . Here is the Skeptik!


For those of you who have been living in a cultural vacuum, I wanted to point
out that the above headline was stripped from the title of one of the few
decent things to come out of Britain–the groundbreaking punk band, the Sex
Pistols. The other notable contribution from the British Isles is the comedy
troupe Monty Python. Save for punk music and the creators of the “Life of
Brian,” all else that has come from England has been an albatross around the
world’s neck.
For starters, take all of the problems in the Middle East or Africa. It was
Britain’s policies of imperialistic expansion starting in the early 18th
century that have resulted in nation states in these regions with borders that
look more like an 8th grader’s geometry homework than actual countries. We’re
still feeling the repercussions of the political meddling of Britain in these
regions to this day. For those of you who are “literacy challenged”, just
“Lawrence of Arabia” to get a layman’s perspective of the mess Britain left
behind in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and environs. And that hot bed of activity
called Israel? Guess who the geniuses were who drew up that map. I’ll give you
a hint. It was the same group of folks that thought Gandhi and his countrymen
in India were too primitive to govern themselves. One more hint? Fine. But
your last one. They went to war with Argentina over disputed claims to the
Falkland Islands, a group of islands off the coast of ARGENTINA whose main
export is sheep and wool. God knows those Brits need their wool! But I
guess if
you’re going to play the role of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, then you need all
the wool you can get. Oops, I gave away the answer. For those of you still
scratching your heads…the answer was Britain.
What inspired this particular rant against the British wasn’t their past
policies. After all, no nation is a saint and in the world of politics it’s a
“shoon” eat “shoon” world out there. After all, it was Lord Palmerston, 19th
century British Foreign Secretary, who said “There are no permanent alliances,
only permanent interests.” It was a more recent quote by another British
dignitary with a far more callous tone which drove me to embark on this
diatribe. It was with outrage that I read article after article and email
email about the denialist comments the British Ambassador to Armenia Thorda
Abbott-Watt made in reference to the Armenian Genocide. She ascertained that
the events of 1915 did not constitute a Genocide. Her statements are a blatant
disregard of the historical facts of the Armenian Genocide, not to mention an
affront to survivors and Armenians throughout the world.
I wrote a letter of complaint to the British foreign ministry but I don’t
expect any results. As an Armenian American who has studied the history of
Armenia, Britain and its relationship with the Ottoman Empire, I’m not
surprised that Britain would hang the Armenians out to dry on this issue. Why
should they act differently than in previous times? The only times when
spoke out against the ill-treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were
when it was in their own self-interest to do so – to either leverage
against Russia or to ensure control over the crumbling Ottoman state. What
it take to convince Britain to adopt an honorable position on the Armenian
Genocide? Maybe increasing Armenia’s wool production. More sheep may be the
answer but I have a feeling that even this will not change the British foreign
ministry’s sheepish attitude. After all, as long as they control that o’ so
strategically significant piece of real estate known as the Falkland Islands,
they have all the wool they will ever need.
I have no respect for Ambassador Abbot-Watt after her uneducated and
politically motivated statements. But I also understand that she is the
mouthpiece of her government. As such, she is the monkey who dances to the
organ music when told to do so. And to end this column with a quote from Sir
Winston Churchill, you should “Never hold discussions with the monkey when the
organ grinder is in the room.” Having made the obligatory monkey reference, I
say give the Ambassador a ticket to ride all the way back to Britain, because
it’s obvious that she don’t care. Cheerio!
Skeptik Sinikian is a resident of that rebellious former-British colony
recognized by the National Geographic Society as the United States of America.
Despite his disdain for British Ambassadors to Armenia, he still enjoys
muffins and English Breakfast tea, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Benny Hill
Specials, “Faulty Towers” and Shakespeare. He can be reached at
[email protected]

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