ASBAREZ Online [04-02-2004]

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04/02/2004
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1) Vahan Hovhannisian Says Opposition Leaves No Room for Negotiations
2) Sen. Kerry Thanks ANCA Supporters for Sponsoring Major Campaign Fundraiser
3) Bush Administration Disowns Three Year-Old Agreement to Maintain Armenia,
Azerbaijan Military Aid Parity
4) New Western Prelacy Parish in Colorado and Rocky Mountains Region
5) Hariri Wraps Up Armenia Visit
6) ARF 29th World Congress: Organizational Empowerment and Reinvigoration
7) Skeptik’s Great American VacationA National Lampoon

1) Vahan Hovhannisian Says Opposition Leaves No Room for Negotiations

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–National Assembly Vice-speaker and NA ARF faction
member Vahan Hovhannisian, said on Thursday that the opposition is not staging
a political struggle, but has simply declared war on the authorities.
“When war is declared, there is an imminent threat of danger. So let those
who
initiated this war not be surprised to see the authorities defending
themselves,” Hovhannisian said in warning representatives of the opposition
Justice party that they could face criminal charges if they act outside the
limitations of the law.
“One of the leaders of the Justice party has repeatedly spoken of law and
order. Now law and order is being established.”
In December 1997, Hovhannisian and 29 other members of ARF, then an
opposition
party, got prison sentences ranging from three two seven years for “making
public calls for a violent overthrow of the government.” But Hovhannisian
rejected comparisons, saying “Your comparison between the current and former
authorities is not correct because we had been arrested for something much
less
serious than what is going on today.”
Hovhannisian said that because opposition demands are so great, they leave no
room for authorities to step back and negotiate. “We consider the country’s
president elected; we think that he has support among people, and when the
matter solely concerns his resignation, negotiations become senseless.”
The two opposition groups have repeatedly announced their intention to launch
a campaign of joint anti-Kocharian street protests by April 13. They are
expected to try to block a street in downtown Yerevan leading to the
parliament
building and presidential palace.
The Yerevan municipality made it clear that it is unlikely to sanction the
upcoming demonstrations. “The city authorities find unacceptable statements
made at the [opposition] rallies,” the city’s mayor Yervand Zakharian, told a
news conference. “If those rallies continue with such statements, the Yerevan
mayor’s office will not be able to sanction such demonstrations and marches.”

2) Sen. Kerry Thanks ANCA Supporters for Sponsoring Major Campaign Fundraiser

DISCUSSES SUPPORT FOR ARMENIAN AMERICAN ISSUES WITH ANCA LEADERS

LOS ANGELES–Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry thanked Armenian
National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Ken Hachikian, and other leaders
and supporters of the ANCA, who participated as sponsors in a major Beverly
Hills campaign fundraiser that brought an estimated $3 million dollars into
the
Kerry campaign.
During a private reception, Hachikian spoke with the Massachusetts Senator,
who noted his long-time support for Armenian American issues and his close
relationship with the Massachusetts Armenian community. He recalled the 1990
bipartisan Senate battle to adopt the Armenian Genocide resolution, led by
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, noting his commitment to the passage of that
and subsequent legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The 1990 bill
was defeated with a filibuster by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), an outspoken
advocate in the Senate of Turkish Government interests. In a September, 2003,
meeting with ANCA Western Region Executive Director Ardashes Kassakhian and
community activist Mihran Toumajan, Sen. Kerry commented on the 1990 Genocide
recognition effort, stating “I was incensed when the Turkish lobby and its
allies disrupted the bill in the Senate… It is called justice, and we will
get there together.”
Former Clinton Administration official and leading community activist Mike
Mahdesian, who took part in the event, commented on the key role of Armenian
Americans in the upcoming presidential race, noting the community presence and
activism in key swing states around the country. “This was a great
opportunity
to speak to Senator Kerry and build on his strong twenty-year relationship
with
the Armenian American community,” commented Mahdesian following the function.
“Senator Kerry spoke highly of the efforts of the Armenian National Committee
and looks forward to working closely with the Armenian American community on
the road to victory in November.” Mahdesian served for more than seven
years as
Deputy for the Bureau of Humanitarian Response at the State Department and US
Agency for International Development. During this period, he was integrally
involved in the US response to crises in Haiti, Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo,
Indonesia, and other trouble spots around the world.
A leading group of Armenian American activists joined Hachikian and Mahdesian
at the gala event, including ANCA Western Region Chairman Raffi Hamparian,
Board Members Aida Dimejian and Souzi Zerounian-Khanzadian, Executive Director
Ardashes Kassakhian, United Armenia Fund Executive Director Harout Sassounian,
as well as several other long-time ANC supporters.
The March 30 event was held at the home of noted Los Angeles businessman Ron
Burkle and featured a concert by James Taylor. Among the notable Hollywood
stars present at the event were Barbra Streisand, Danny DeVito, Jennifer
Aniston, Brad Pitt, Michael Keaton, Jason Alexander, Lucy Liu, Sharon Stone,
Leonardo DiCaprio, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Christina Applegate, Oliver
Stone, Dustin Hoffman and Angelica Huston.
Senator Kerry, during his long tenure in the US House and Senate, 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. He is currently a cosponsor of the Genocide Resolution,
S.Res.164, and he voted, in 1990, on the Senate floor for Senator Bob Dole’s
(R-KS) 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
relations
status.
Senator Kerry has spearheaded a number of initiatives to lift the Turkish and
Azerbaijani blockades. In 1991, he was the lead sponsor of legislation, which
was later enacted as Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act that restricted US
aid to the government of Azerbaijan until it lifted its blockades of Armenia
and Nagorno Karabagh. 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.
The ANCA recently released its Armenian American Presidential Report Card,
which gave the Bush Administration generally low marks on fifteen issues of
special concern to Armenian American voters.

3) Bush Administration Disowns Three Year-Old Agreement to Maintain Armenia,
Azerbaijan Military Aid Parity

ASSISTANT SECRETARY ELIZABETH JONES DEFENDS 4 TO 1 MILITARY AID IMBALANCE IN
FAVOR OF AZERBAIJAN; CLAIMS PARITY AGREEMENT NEVER EXISTED

WASHINGTON, DC–The Bush Administration, which, earlier this year proposed
breaking its three-year old commitment to maintain parity in US military aid
levels to Armenia and Azerbaijan, this week entirely disowned its agreement
with Congress and the Armenian American community, claiming that such an
arrangement has never existed, reported the Armenian National Committee Of
America (ANCA).
The State Department outlined its new posture in response to questions
directed to Secretary of State Colin Powell by Senator George Allen (R-VA)
during a March 2 hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Allen’s
question read, in part:
“As part of the 907 waiver, there was an agreement made between the
Administration and Congress to continue ensuring military parity between
Armenia and Azerbaijan. How does this budget request not undermine that
understanding and not contradict the Administrations previously held
position?”
Responding for Secretary Powell, Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones
wrote:
“We do not have a policy that FMF funding levels for Armenia and Azerbaijan
should be identical, but we are determined to ensure that our military
assistance to these two countries does not alter the military balance between
them. We are confident that increased FMF funding for Azerbaijan will not
alter the military capability or offensive posture of Azerbaijan, nor will it
perturb the military balance between it and Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict.”
Assistant Secretary Jones’ comments run contrary to the agreement to maintain
equal military aid levels struck in late 2001 between the White House and
Congress during negotiations over granting the President the authority to
waive
Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. The agreement was shared with
representatives of the Armenian American community during a February 21, 2002
meeting at the White House with National Security Council official Dan Fried
and Presidential advisor Karl Rove.
In February of this year, as part of its FY 2005 budget, the Bush
Administration proposed breaking the parity agreement by sending four times
more Foreign Military Financing assistance to Azerbaijan ($8 million) than to
Armenia ($2 million). The President’s budget also includes a proposed $62
million allocation in economic aid to Armenia, a $13 million decrease from the
$75 million approved by Congress as part of the FY 2004 aid bill.
“Our deep disappointment with the Administration’s failure to honor its
three-year old commitment to maintain military aid parity between Armenia and
Azerbaijan was compounded this week by the news that a senior State Department
official is now claiming that such an agreement never existed in the first
place,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “This breach of
faith–this disavowal of their own agreement–undermines the confidence of
Armenian Americans in the willingness of the Bush Administration to maintain a
balanced policy toward Armenia and the surrounding region.”
In letters and briefing papers provided to Members of Congress, the ANCA has
explained that breaking the parity agreement will tilt the regional military
balance in favor of Azerbaijan, reward the Azerbaijani government’s increasing
violent calls for renewed aggression, and undermine the role of the United
States as an impartial mediator of the Karabagh talks.

4) New Western Prelacy Parish in Colorado and Rocky Mountains Region

Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, and Western Prelacy Religious and
Executive Councils welcomed its newest parish, the Armenian Apostolic
Church of
Colorado and the Rocky Mountains Region.
Over the past twenty-five years, Armenians in Colorado and the Rocky
Mountains
region have grown from only a few families into a vibrant community. From the
beginning, the Prelacy has responded to the religious needs of all the
Armenian
faithful in the area by organizing church services and regularly sending
clergy
to offer the sacraments and spiritual comfort.
The community recently recognized the need to establish a formal parish
structure, with the hopes of building a new church in the foreseeable
future. A
formal request was presented to the Prelacy at the beginning of 2004.
The community convened its first membership meeting on March 7. Present at
this historic meeting were Reverend Father Vazken Atmajian from Saint Mary’s
Armenian Church, Glendale, who officially represented Prelate Mardirossian,
and
Avo Donoyan, Chairman of the Executive Council of the Western Prelacy.
Leo Donian was elected as the first delegate to the Representatives Assembly
which convened in May 2004.
The following parishioners were elected as new Board of Trustees members: Leo
Donian, Kalousd Christianian, Kevo Hedeshian, Armen Khadiwala, Misak
Nabighian,
David Tutunjian, and Vahe Berejiklian.
His Eminence appointed Dr. George A. Leylegian, Archdeacon at Saint Gregory
Church of San Francisco, as the chaplain of the new parish.

5) Hariri Wraps Up Armenia Visit

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and Armenian President Kocharian met on
Friday seeking to boost the modest commercial exchange between the two
countries. They also discussed the Middle East and South Caucasus.
Hariri and Armenian counterpart Andranik Markarian reviewed the
possibility of
setting-up an intergovernmental commission on bilateral economic cooperation,
with Markarian calling for increased bilateral trade and “mutual investments.”
He said Armenia has a lot to learn from the Middle Eastern nation’s burgeoning
tourism and banking industries.
Accompanied by cabinet ministers and four ethnic Armenian members of the
Lebanese parliament, Hariri visited Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II,
and
placed a wreath at the Dzidzernagapert memorial to the victims of the Armenian
Genocide.

6) ARF 29th World Congress: Organizational Empowerment And Reinvigoration

BY SETO BOYADJIAN, ESQ.

Securing organizational prowess is a fundamental preposition in resolutions
adopted by the ARF 29th World Congress. Hence, the next quadrennial will
constitute a period of organizational renewal and reinvigoration, as well as
organizational empowerment and rejuvenation. This objective is premised on two
propositions.
The first, organizational renewal and reinvigoration (see Asbarez, Saturday,
March 26, 2004), mainly involves the internal structure of the party. The
second, organizational empowerment and rejuvenation, takes into account the
extra-organizational environment.
While the first proposition deals with the potential of ARF’s membership, the
second targets the potential of the Armenian people. It is of course difficult
to make clear distinctions and precise divisions of labor between the two,
because both propositions have one specific goalARF’s organizational prowess.
Thus, in view of their functions, the two propositions not only complement
each
other, but also overlap.
The World Congress resolutions about organizational empowerment and
rejuvenation focus mainly on the outside, extra-organizational environmentARF
sympathizers and the Armenian people in general. In this respect, the
resolutions chart three basic tasks:

– To broaden the base of ARF sympathizers,

– To recruit the able manpower outside the ARF organization; and,

– To recruit the young elements of the society.

The first two of these tasks will proceed in the following three directions:

THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN ARF UNDERTAKINGS

The Armenian woman cannot be apart from ARF activities. With her abilities,
skills, and commitment, the participation and assistance of the Armenian woman
will make a difference and enhance overall ARF programs.
Therefore, the party shall increase the importance and prominence of
women, by
advancing them in public life, and emphasizing her proactive presence within
the organization.
This assertion is not new to the ARF. From the very first day of ARF’s
founding, the Armenian woman has been an active participant in the
organization’s revolutionary, political, and propaganda activities. After the
1920’s, Diaspora conditions and restrictions of communist rule in the
homeland,
unfortunately, curtailed her full participation. However, present day
imperatives require that Armenian women assert themselves in public service
and
assume public mission.

THE ROLE OF THE INTELLECTUALS IN PARTY ACTIVITIES

There are many factors that prevent intellectuals from participating in ARF’s
daily organizational activities. The active participation of qualified
intellectuals in national and organization works of the ARF is, nevertheless,
vital. Of course, the eradication of those negative factors is the best
guarantee for their return. To this end, ARF executive bodies and ranks must
display more understanding and receptive behavior toward our intellectuals.
And
because the ARF, in pursuit of its objectives, requires innovative programs,
experts, unique methods, and intelligence, proper implementation, the
intellectual becomes the key in fulfilling these needs.

RECRUITMENT OF WORKING AND PRODUCING CLASS INTO THE ARF STRUCTURES

The focal point of ARF’s national and social creed has been the working and
producing segments of Armenian society. Moreover, these segments have been one
of the pillars of ARF’s popular base. Along with the pursuit of national
interests, the ARF also fights for the betterment of the socio-economic
conditions of the Armenian people. Thus these segments are the initial
beneficiaries of that fight. Without their active presence and participation,
ARF’s work for national and social objectives would be incomplete. Hence, not
only should these segments of Armenian society receive those benefits, but
they
should also join ARF structures and actively engage in overall ARF activities.

RECRUITMENT OF THE YOUNG GENERATION

This task is intended to fulfill the requirement of organizational
rejuvenation. Naturally, this requirement cannot be self-serving. Its
achievement is a necessary imperative for the expansion and modernization of
ARF’s action plan in the political arena and other areas. Therefore, the age
factor alone is not the necessary component here.
Rejuvenation primarily relates to the state of mind, style of work, and
modern
ways and means imposed by the demands of the 21st Century. The nature and
extent of ARF work must undergo changes that correspond to the developing
conditions taking place both within and outside the party organization. To
keep
pace with current times and conditions, the party must develop a corresponding
state of mind, adopt a corresponding work style, and appropriate corresponding
ways and means. Thus, in view of modern times and conditions, the ARF 29th
World Congress affirms that these new demands and changes “make organizational
rejuvenation a strategic priority.” As for targeted organizational
rejuvenation, it can take shape and form only by a cognizant, specialized, and
committed young generation.
The enhancement of organizational strength has always been a built-in
mechanism within ARF’s structure. That’s why the foregoing tasks and direction
for the achievement of organizational empowerment and rejuvenation are not
novel approaches for the ARF.

In its first official declaration the ARF Manifesto, published in 1890, the
party underscored the importance and necessity of the alliance of the Armenian
women, intellectuals, workingmen, and the young generation. Present conditions
of the homeland and the Diaspora make the creation of that alliance as
compelling and necessary as ever.
Yet, that alliance cannot come about with the formulation of wishes and
opinions into resolutions. The World Congress has taken the necessary initial
step in the right direction by adopting the pertinent resolutions. It is
now up
to ARF executive bodies and ranks to take serious steps to implement those
resolutions as instructed.

7) Skeptik’s Great American VacationA National Lampoon

BY SKEPTIK SINIKIAN

I’m not a fan of Gore Vidal. Come to think of it, I’m not a fan of anyone
named Gore, except for that Armenian singer Gor Mkhitarian. And the only Vidal
I like was a Sassountsi as far as I’m concerned. But the other day as I
watched
footage of the President and Senator Kerry raising money at different
events, I
remembered a quote from Gore Vidal. He said “The more money an American
accumulates, the less interesting he becomes.” I’m going to paraphrase that
and
then copyright it and say “The more money is raised in a campaign, the less
interesting it becomes.”
Looking at the figures of how much Kerry and Bush have raised, I yelped like
Howard Dean at a campaign rally. Putting aside the ridiculous statistic that
Bush has out raised Kerry 3 to 1, their combined campaign war chests exceed
the
combined gross domestic product of the world’s six poorest nations. Bush has
amassed a 158.8 million dollars and Kerry has collected 41.4 million dollars.
(It’s important to note however that all of the Democratic candidates
collectively have raised 201.8 million dollars.) All of this information is
available online at
Here’s the real kicker though. What bugs me the most about the gargantuan
amount of money raised so far is that it really hasn’t elevated the level of
debate in the campaigns, nor has it prompted the press to focus on the real
issues. Now maybe that will change after the Democratic and Republican
conventions, but I have a feeling that we’ll still be forced to watch inane
late night news magazine specials on what a loving caring mother Laura Bush
is,
and a very special special on how Kerry met Theresa Heinz. Meanwhile gas
prices
continue to rise, the environment is being raped, American troops still
have no
exit plan, we’ve run up the worst deficit in decades, jobs are being lost at
home, Armenia’s foreign aid is cut every year Bush is in office, Azerbaijan is
arming itself thanks to my tax dollars, and the reaffirmation of the Genocide
by the US is not even an afterthought in the President’s mind. And this is
just
the tip of the iceberg. And instead of focusing on real issues, we have to
watch Bush and Kerry thump their chests to see who’s the bigger war hero. One
guy has a legitimate record of service in an amoral war while the other is
attacking countries with the ferocity of a child with Attention Deficit
Disorder.
You know what issue I would like to have discussed? (Aside from aid to
Armenia, Artsakh’s independence, the Armenian Genocide and sanctions against
Turkey and Azerbaijan). Vacations! I want serious debate between the
candidates
and in the media about policies regarding vacations, and I’ll tell you why. As
I felt burned out from work this week, I watched as my neighbor’s kids ride
around the block on their bikes and I remembered how great it was to be a kid.
The best part about being a kid was going on vacationstaking weeks off from
school in the Spring, and Winter, and having the entire Summer off. Is there
anything better than that? Well, it’s been so long, I wouldn’t know. But if I
wanted to know, I should ask Senator Kerry and President Bush. Kerry isn’t
even
President yet and he’s snowboarding in Idahocutting powder like George W. Bush
in college. Wait, that was a totally different kind of powder. My bad. I read
an interesting statistic that I wanted to share with the rest of you.
In August of 2003, the Washington Post reported that President Bush has spent
all or part of a total 166 days during his tenure as President, at his
ranch in
Crawford, Texas or en route to the ranch. Combine this time with the time that
he spent at the Presidential retreat at Camp David, and at various Bush family
estates, and he has taken 250 days off as of August 2003. That’s 27% of his
presidency spent on vacation. By the way, most people I know have to work at
least one year at any job before they quality for one week (7 days) vacation.
ONE WEEK! In Europe, everyone from the guy flipping hamburgers to the
assistant
to the CEO of corporations, gets at least three to four weeks off paid
vacation. Even the workaholic Germans take month long vacations. So if we’re
working so hard, how come the Euro keeps kicking our ass? I’m not an economist
and I’m sure someone could give me a very detailed and dull answer. At the end
of it, I still wouldn’t have a month paid vacation. Can you imagine how
relaxed
we would be as a nation if everyone received a month of paid vacation?
Its too late for me, I’m old. But to all of you out there raising children
today, I want to give you some advice. Raise them to run for President.
They’ll
be millionaires and have months upon months of vacation time. Just make sure
that when they do become rich and decide to run this country (hopefully, not
into the ground), that they will still be interesting.

———
SKEPTIK SINIKIAN hasn’t been on vacation since the first Bush administration.
He hopes one day to save up enough vacation days to visit exotic places like
North Hollywood or Toluca Lake. Until then, he and his fellow tax payers will
continue to pay for the President Bush’s and Senator Kerry’s vacations.
Skeptik
can be reached at [email protected]

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