ASBAREZ Online [04-08-2004]


1) Opposition and Coalition Representatives Meet
2) Intellectuals Push for Dialogue between Opposition, Authorities
3) Announcement
4) France Tries to Ease Turks’ Fears on EU Accession

1) Opposition and Coalition Representatives Meet

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–Representatives of the opposition and coalition government
met on Thursday at The Armenian Center for National and International Studies
(ACNIS), according to accounts, on the initiative of the Intellectuals’ Forum
Coalition participants were Galust Sahakian and Tigran Torosyan of the
Republican Party (HHK); Levon Mkrtchian and Armen Rustamian of the Armenian
Revolutionary Federation (ARF), and Samvel Balasanyan and Mher Shahgeldyan of
the Orinats Yerkir Party.
Opposition representatives were Republican Party political caucus members
Sargsyan and Smbat Ayvazian, as well as Vazgen Manukyan and Aram Karapetyan.
Also present were Raffi Hovannisian of the ACNIS, academicians Lenzer
Aghalovyan, David Setrakian, Ohan Dourian, and Khoren Balyan.
Both coalition and opposition representatives presented their views on
political activities, and reportedly reached a fundamental understanding in
allowing for matters to develop outside the political framework.

2) Intellectuals Push for Dialogue between Opposition, Authorities

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–At a roundtable discussion on the political
situation in Armenia, prominent intellectuals agreed that dialogue is the only
means to resolve the existing conflict between the authorities and the
opposition. In saying so, they were quick to note that the opposition, and
of the public, would misconstrue their appeal as siding with the president and
the authorities. They even speculated that certain representatives of the
Armenian press would, in fact, spin the story in that direction the next day.
As a group, they conveyed that intellectuals refuse to surrender to any
political force or decision; however, stressing the possible threat to the
Armenian nation, and its already achieved successes–as small as they may
be–they stood firm in calling for dialogue to avoid impending conflicts.
Organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s (ARF) Supreme Body of
Armenia, the Thursday roundtable attracted prominent intellectuals, including
the chairman of the Armenian Writers Union Levon Ananian, who warned that the
deepening standoff has placed Armenia “on the brink of an abyss,” and called
for a compromise deal between Kocharian and the opposition.
ARF Supreme Body representative Armen Rustamian noted that in the life of
nation, and peoples, similar conflicts exist.
“We must avoid those developments that take conflict resolution outside of
political arena,” said Rustamyan, noting that the current political discord in
Armenia has reached a stalemate, and both sides must moderate their views.

3) Announcement

The present political tension in the Republic of Armenia greatly concerns
Armenians worldwide, and especially the children of our nation living in the
western United States.

The rapidly developing crisis situation that began in the past weeks has
deeply shaken all Armenians.
Thus, in the name of the spiritual leaders and people of all Armenian
denominations of the Western United States, we forward to the children of our
nation in Armenia, calls of love, Christian love of peace, mutual respect, and
harmony–so that the spirit of the Great Week prevails in our souls–and
forward calls to always exempt our nation from harm and fraternal hate.
It is our deep conviction and expectation of all the children of our nation
both in Armenia and the Diaspora, to be guided by prayer, practical and active
dialogue, and a sound spirit and path. Let us keep eternal Armenia distant
unjustifiable, fatal, and destructive actions, especially keeping in-mind our
present geopolitical situation.
Let the prayers of Armenians resound in all spirits, in order to keep our
borders and households distant from apparent and invisible dangers and
Prelate of Western Region, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian
Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, Archbishop Hovnan
Dean Pastor Raphael Minassian, leader of the Catholic Armenian Community
Reverend Joe Matossian, leader of Evangelical Armenian Community

4) France Tries to Ease Turks’ Fears on EU Accession

PARIS (Combined Sources)–France’s new foreign minister sought on Thursday to
ease growing concerns in Turkey that Paris wants to block its accession to the
European Union.
He said French policy on Turkey’s membership had not changed even though he
rattled Turkish financial markets Wednesday by telling parliament Ankara was
not yet ready to join the EU and the ruling conservative party said it opposed
rapid accession.
“The French government pays attention to all that is said in the internal
political debate, starting with the biggest party in parliament, but our line
on this remains the same,” said Michel Barnier, who was appointed only last
week in a government reshuffle.
He reiterated that the EU would take no decision on whether to open accession
talks with Turkey until the executive European Commission releases a report
later this year looking at whether Ankara has made sufficient progress on
“It is the European Commission which will say objectively if and when
accession talks can start because there are currently no accession talks with
Turkey,” he told reporters at the Foreign Ministry.
The European Commission in November noted “significant progress” by the
Turkish government in meeting EU conditions for membership. It cited, however,
several areas where more needed to be done, including improving the country’s
judicial system and human rights record.
The 15-member EU takes in 10 new members, mainly from eastern and central
Europe, on May 1. Turkey hopes to be in a later wave of accession.
Barnier made clear in parliament Wednesday that Turkey had not yet met the
conditions for membership. “Turkey does not respect the conditions, even if it
is preparing to do so,” he said, adding that there was “no question” of
Turkey’s joining the EU “under current circumstances.”
Barnier’s remarks triggered a furor in the Turkish press and helped drive
Turkish financial markets lower on Thursday.
“The cock has crowed too soon,” said the headline in the Aksam daily.
“When Turkey has fulfilled all the criteria for membership and opened the way
to a solution in Cyprus, France drops its mask. The government has declared
true intentions,” it said.
However, a Turkish official downplayed Barnier’s comments, saying they simply
reflected the current state of affairs.
“We know that we still have some shortcomings which must be dealt with,
and we
will deal with them before December,” the official told Reuters in Ankara.
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told reporters, “Various exaggerated words can
be said for reasons related to domestic politics.”
EU leaders will decide in December whether to open accession talks with
Turkey, the only membership aspirant that has so far been denied a seat at the
negotiating table.

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