ASBAREZ Online [04-14-2004]


1) US Addresses Political Unrest in Armenia
2) Situation Remains Stable after Opposition Rally Dispersion
3) Human Rights Ombudsman Says Method of Force Unwarranted
4) Opposition Must Scrutinize Government Performance Says Kocharian
5) Azeri Leader Urges Turkey to Stand Firm on Armenia
6) US Interested in Strong Armenian Army Says DM
7) US Prepares to Capture Rebel Iraqi Cleric

1) US Addresses Political Unrest in Armenia

WASHINGTON–The United States expressed concern about the “sharp
escalation” of
tensions in Armenia between the government and the opposition, through the
following April 13 statement by US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher,
made public on Wednesday:
“The United States is concerned about the current political situation in
Armenia, particularly the sharp escalation in confrontation between the
government and the opposition. We call on both sides to enter into a dialogue
that will lessen tension and focus the political process on the challenges of
continued political and economic reform. Physical assaults, raids on political
party offices, and widespread arrests and detentions of opposition
activists by
the police do not contribute to creating an atmosphere conducive to political
dialogue. We call on all sides to respect the role of peaceful assembly and to
take all steps to prevent violence.”

2) Situation Remains Stable after Opposition Rally Dispersion

PRAGUE (RFE/RL)–The situation remained calm in Yerevan yesterday, 24 hours
after police forcibly dispersed an opposition rally in the center of the
Authorities released three opposition lawmakers detained for their
participation in antigovernment protests.
Shavarsh Kocharian of the Justice (Artarutyun) alliance and Aleksan
of the National Unity Party had been detained during the previous morning’s
unrest, which followed four days of rallies. Another Justice lawmaker, Arshak
Sadoyan, had been taken to a police station a few hours later.
It is not clear whether they will face any sanctions.
Also unclear is the fate of former Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian
former Deputy Health Minister Artak Zeynalian. Both men were taken into police
custody in connection with the unrest and have not reappeared since.
RFE/RL’s Armenian Service correspondent Karine Kalantarian reports that
confirm four opposition activists are under arrest and that another 19 are
being questioned.
Armenian authorities yesterday vowed to get tough on rallies staged without
official permission, saying all unauthorized meetings are banned throughout

3) Human Rights Ombudsman Says Method of Force Unwarranted

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–Armenia’s human rights ombudsman Larisa Alaverdian said that
the actions of the opposition demonstrators on April 13, did not warrant the
steps taken by law enforcement officials to quell the rally. “Recent decisions
of the court and steps taken by the police do not always correspond–in the
first case, to what the people were accused of, and in the second, the
situation at the moment.”
Pointing to the laws in effect in the Republic, she said that there is no
classification of gatherings that are permitted or prohibited; thus,
at any given meeting is the right of Armenian citizens.
“It was possible to utilize other methods in reprimanding the criminal
announcements and expressions that were made,” said Alaverdian, adding that
those who did use unwarranted force on journalists and citizens will be
and held accountable for their actions.

4) Opposition Must Scrutinize Government Performance Says Kocharian

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–President Robert Kocharian pointed to dialogue as the
best method to resolve conflict between opposing political forces, and
denounced the opposition for presenting ultimatums.
Meeting on Wednesday with members of the United Communist Party ruling board,
the president disclosed that the ruling government coalition, in a bid to ease
the mounting opposition standoff through a dialogue, held a series of meeting
with opposition leaders during the past few months.
He said that the extremism of certain segments of the opposition which have
rejected dialogue, has instead, created the existing political tension. He
defended the security forces for attempting to restore law and order.
Kocharian said that the opposition’s ultimate goal should be the same as the
government’s–to improve living standards. The main functions of the
opposition, he noted, should be to keep the government’s performance under
continuous scrutiny, so as to prevent deviation.
“Today the opposition is fully able to operate normally, but if it decides to
take another course, the authorities possess enough resources, set by the law,
to protect citizens and stave off displays of illegality and extremism,” said
Kocharian, noting that recent developments have not affected the country’s
economy, financial markets, or investment environment.

5) Azeri Leader Urges Turkey to Stand Firm on Armenia

ANKARA (Reuters)–Azerbaijan expects Turkey to keep its border with Armenia
closed for as long as the dispute over the Karabagh region remains unresolved,
the Azeri leader said in an interview published on Tuesday.
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev began a state visit to Turkey, an old ally, on
Tuesday. His trip coincides with pressure on Ankara from some officials in the
United States and the European Union to lift its trade blockade of tiny,
landlocked Armenia.
Turkey has no diplomatic relations with Armenia because the Christian former
Soviet republic occupies Karabagh, a territory populated by ethnic Armenians
but assigned to Turkic-speaking, mainly-Muslim Azerbaijan in Soviet times.
“Some big powers may try to achieve their interests by putting pressure (on
Turkey over opening its border),” Aliyev told the Turkish daily Zaman. “Turkey
is a big country. We believe it will not give in to this pressure.”
About 35,000 people died in six years of fighting over Karabagh which
ended in
a 1994 ceasefire. A decade of diplomatic efforts by the United States, France,
and Russia to end the deadlock has so far failed.
Turkey hopes to open talks on joining the EU soon.
There had been speculation of a thaw in Azeri-Armenian ties after the death
last December of Aliyev’s father, Heydar Aliyev, who had dominated Azeri
politics for three decades.
But Ilham Aliyev, elected president last October, signaled there would be no
change in his Karabagh policy.


“We want the occupying Armenians to give back our lands unconditionally. Then
we can negotiate on the status of Karabagh,” Aliyev told Zaman.
He added Azerbaijan would never accept Armenian demands for Karabagh’s union
with Armenia or for independence from Baku.
Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, welcoming Aliyev to Ankara, said Turkey
backed a swift resolution of the Karabagh conflict.
“We are ready to make every effort possible to help our Azeri brothers…
towards solving the Karabagh problem through peaceful means, in line with the
principles of international law,” the state Anatolian news agency quoted Sezer
as saying.
As well as international pressure, Ankara has faced lobbying from Turkish
business interests keen to trade freely with Armenia. But Turkish diplomats
Ankara will not act without the agreement of Azerbaijan.
Apart from close linguistic and cultural ties, Turkey and Azerbaijan will be
linked in the near future by an oil pipeline pumping crude from the Caspian
to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
The 1,760-km (1,100-mile) Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, built by an international
consortium and strongly backed by the United States, is worth around $3
“More than half of the oil pipeline has now been completed,” Aliyev told
adding work was also progressing well on a natural gas pipeline from the
Caspian to Turkey and Greece.

6) US Interested in Strong Armenian Army Says DM

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s Defense Minister Serge Sarkisian, announced
that $7 million in US military assistance would be provided to Armenia in the
coming months, and that US-Armenian military cooperation is on its way to
Speaking at the joint press conference with US Ambassador to Armenia John
Ordway, Sarkisian said he is confident that the US is interested in a strong
and effective Armenian army to help in guarantee regional region and, if
necessary, participate in overseas peacekeeping efforts.
Ordway said that present military cooperation is at a “perfect level,” and
suggested it would deepen and expand from year to year. Ordway explained that
cooperation has specifically progressed during the last three years as a
of joint programs.
Ordway and Sarkisian were in the northern town of Talin for an opening
ceremony of a local hospital that was repaired by way of US Department of
Defense humanitarian assistance program.
Ordway explained that future US assistance would focus on providing
communication means, implementing educational programs, and raising of the
level of Armenia’s peacekeeping forces and mine-clearing centers. He also
of joint military exercises.

7) US Prepares to Capture Rebel Iraqi Cleric

NEAR NAJAF (Reuters)–US forces have tightened their grip around one of Iraq’s
holiest cities as the rebel Shi’ite cleric they have vowed to kill or capture
offered peace terms to spare Najaf a bloodbath.
An envoy appointed by Moqtada al-Sadr said the wanted cleric had asked him to
convey peace proposals to the Americans.
Russia said it would airlift out more than 800 of its nationals and citizens
of ex-Soviet states to escape a hostage free-for-all and worsening violence
sweeping Iraq.
The 2,500-strong 3rd Brigade Task Force, along with Spanish and Polish
set up what US officers called an exclusion zone around Najaf and sent out
reconnaissance patrols from Forward Operating Base Duke, 20 km (13 miles) west
of the city.
President George W. Bush vowed to stay the course and said a June 30 handover
to Iraqi sovereignty would go ahead.
“Sayyed Moqtada made positive proposals to end the crisis. I cannot disclose
the details. He realizes that an armed confrontation is not in anybody’s
interest,” Sadr’s envoy, Abdelkarim al-Anzi, now in Baghdad, told Reuters by
Anzi said he had met Sadr in Najaf on Tuesday.
The US military has branded Sadr an outlaw and pledged to kill or seize the
cleric. Sadr had been staying near the Imam Ali shrine, which is sacred to the
world’s Shi’ite Muslims, but an aide said he had now moved to his father’s
house in eastern Najaf.
Iran said the United States, its arch-foe, had sought its help in calming the
Iraq violence. “Naturally, there are demands by Americans…that we help to
resolve the crisis in Iraq. And we are acting,” Foreign Minister Kamal
As tension mounted in Najaf, Iraqi mediators said they had extended a shaky
truce in the embattled Sunni town of Falluja for 48 hours from 9 a.m. on


But violence flared in Baghdad, where US soldiers fired on looters raiding a
military truck on the airport road. A Reuters photographer said he saw several
Iraqis lying motionless and bleeding after the shooting.
Four people were killed and six wounded in the northern city of Mosul when a
Katyusha rocket, aimed at a police station, hit a civilian area, police and
hospital officials said.
Tension was also running high in Najaf’s sister city, Kerbala, where
said streets were empty amid fears of clashes between Sadr’s militia and
Bulgaria said its troops in the shrine city had come under fire during the
night, but took no casualties.
Bush said his generals, who have asked for two more brigades–about 10,000
troops–to be sent to Iraq, would get them.
At a rare White House news conference, Bush called on Sadr to disband his
militia. The cleric launched an uprising this month after US-led authorities
closed his newspaper, said he was wanted for murder and detained his top aide.
The revolt came as insurgents from the smaller Sunni Muslim community, to
which Saddam Hussein belongs, responded to a military crackdown in central
by taking on US Marines in street battles.
Hundreds of Iraqis have been killed in April, also the deadliest month for
US military since Saddam’s fall a year ago, with 83 American troops killed in
two weeks of combat.
The violence has spurred insurgents to kidnap more than 40 foreigners in
though many have been released.
A French photographer was the latest to join four Italian private security
guards, three Japanese civilians, three Czech journalists, two Arab aid
and a US contractor on the list of reported hostages.
Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said seven flights from Kuwait and Baghdad
take 553 Russians and 263 nationals of former Soviet states out of Iraq later
this week, despite the safe release of three Russian and five Ukrainian
hostages on Tuesday.


US Marines fought Sunni insurgents in Falluja overnight and witnesses said
four civilians and two fighters were killed, but negotiators extended a truce
for 48 hours.
The US military took no direct part in Tuesday’s truce talks. Ahmed
Hardan, of
the Iraqi Islamic Party, represented on Iraq’s US-appointed Governing Council,
said Iraqi police were to return to duty in Falluja within 48 hours and US
forces would withdraw. Hospitals would be re-supplied and displaced civilians
would return.
Abdul Salam al-Kubaysi, spokesman for the Muslim Clerics Association,
negotiating on behalf of Falluja, said only local police would be allowed in
the city, not the “traitors and collaborators” of the US-trained Iraqi Civil
Defense Corps.
He said police could be backed up by creating a security force drawn from
local tribes–apparently a reference to the gunmen who have been battling the
No US comment was available and it was not clear if the military had
dropped a
demand for the surrender of those behind the gruesome murders of four
in Falluja on March 31.
Pledging to keep US troops in Iraq as long as necessary, Bush said the latest
violence was a “power grab” by ruthless extremists, not a civil war or popular
About 130,000 US troops spearhead the 145,000-strong coalition in Iraq, but
some US allies are growing nervous.
The Philippines said on Wednesday it was considering pulling its troops and
aid workers out of Iraq. Despite public disquiet at home, Japan and Italy have
rejected demands by kidnappers of their nationals that they withdraw their

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From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS