ASBAREZ Online [04-16-2004]


1) ANCA Shares Armenian American Disappointment Over Bush Administration
with Congressional Leaders
2) ANC of Canada and Deputy Prime Minister Discuss Armenian Genocide Motion
3) Aliyev Says Russian Troops in Armenia a Danger to Region
4) Key Parliament Gunman Found Dead in Jail

1) ANCA Shares Armenian American Disappointment Over Bush Administration
with Congressional Leaders



WASHINGTON, DC–In letters sent this week to Congressional leaders, the
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) voiced the disappointment of the
Armenian American community over the Bush Administration’s record on Armenian
issues. In its correspondence, the ANCA called for renewed efforts by the
leadership of the legislative branch to urge the White House to adopt more
constructive policies on issues of special concern to Armenian American
Included with the letters, signed by ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian and sent to
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist,
copies of the ANCA’s 2004 Armenian American Presidential Report Card, which
gave the President generally low marks on a range of fifteen different
American issues. These issues were grouped into three general categories as

1) Unfulfilled commitments: Most notable among the unfulfilled commitments
were the President’s failure to honor his campaign pledge in February of 2000
to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide, and his decision this February to
abandon the 2001 White House agreement with both Congress and the Armenian
American community to maintain parity in military aid to Armenia and

2) Opposition to community concerns: In terms of active opposition to
community concerns, we have seen the White House block Congressional
legislation concerning the Armenian Genocide, waive Section 907 of the Freedom
Support Act, propose reductions in US aid to Armenia, and mistakenly place
Armenia on a Department of Justice/INS terrorist watch list.
3) Failure to prioritize Armenian issues: The Administration has failed to
prioritize either US-Armenia ties or the White House’s relationship with the
Armenian American community. An example of the former is the failure of the
Administration to take meaningful proactive steps to foster increased
US-Armenia commercial relations, or even to press Congress to move quickly to
adopt Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status for Armenia. An
example of
the latter is that the President has not invited the collective leadership of
the Armenian American community to a meeting at the White House despite
repeated requests for such interaction.

Both the Senate and House letters included more than a dozen specific
recommendations by the ANCA about how the Congressional leadership could
encourage the White House to improve its standing among Armenian American
The ANCA letter also stressed that, while disappointed with the President’s
performance, the ANCA “highly values our many close friends in Congress and
throughout the country and wants to ensure that they can effectively reach out
to Armenian Americans this election season, confident in the knowledge that
their national leadership has been supportive of Armenian issues.”
Hachikian highlighted that Armenian Americans “have great respect for the
tremendous leadership of Congressman Joe Knollenberg as Co-Chairman of the
Armenian Caucus and appreciate his spearheading of the adoption of legislation
in the House granting Armenia Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status.
This important measure, which is awaiting Senate action, was provided crucial
Committee support by Chairman Bill Thomas of the Ways and Means Committee. Our
community deeply appreciates the efforts of Congressman George Radanovich in
introducing and advocating tirelessly on behalf of the Genocide Resolution,
those of Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner for moving this
important measure out of Committee. We admire the efforts of Congressman Mark
Kirk, who has worked with Congressman Knollenberg and Chairman Jim Kolbe of
Foreign Operations Subcommittee to address Armenian American concerns in the
foreign aid bill. Throughout the nation, Armenian Americans value their
friendships with Republican legislators, from David Dreier in California, Eric
Cantor in Virginia, Chris Smith in New Jersey, Mark Souder in Indiana, to New
York’s John Sweeney, who is of Armenian heritage, and many others.”
In the Senate, Hachikian made special mention of “Senators Mitch McConnell,
John Ensign, George Allen, Elizabeth Dole, and many others,” noting that the
ANCA wants to “ensure that they can effectively reach out to Armenian
this election season, confident in the knowledge that their national
has been supportive of Armenian issues.”
In a similar letter sent last week to the Chairman of the Bush-Cheney-04
campaign, Marc Racicot, the ANCA included a copy of its Bush Administrations’
Report Card and suggested “a number of steps that the Administration can take
to improve its standing among our nation’s one and a half million citizens of
Armenian heritage.” The letter went on to note that, “these issues are of
profound importance to our entire community–Republicans, Democrats, and
independents–all of whom, sadly, are united in the view that this
Administration, despite its early promise, has fallen far short of their
expectations.” Racicot, in addition to being the former Governor of Montana,
was the immediate past Chairman of the Republican National Committee.
For the full text of the ANCA 2004 Armenian American Presidential Report Card
For the National Organization for Republican Armenians perspective on the
Administration’s record visit:
The Armenian American Leadership Council’s (AADLC) review of the Bush
Administration can be found at:
leases.asp?pr id=51
A review of Sen. John Kerry’s (D-MA) record on Armenian issues is located at:

2) ANC of Canada and Deputy Prime Minister Discuss Armenian Genocide Motion

OTTAWA–Armenian National Committee of Canada Chairperson Dr. Jirayr
and ARF of Canada Central Committee member Krikor Der Ghazarian met with
Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan on March 29. The meeting was
arranged through former Federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Stephan
The ANC representatives focused on the government’s position on M-380, a
Motion in the Canadian parliament acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and
condemning it as a crime against humanity.
They expressed the Armenian community’s deep disillusionment regarding the
Canadian government’s long-held negative position vis-à-vis official
recognition of the Armenian Genocide. They pointed out that in the past the
government had not merely adopted a negative stance, but also actively lobbied
against adoption of motions on the Armenian Genocide.
The Armenian representatives stated that Canada has fallen far behind the
countries on the list of those that have recognized the Genocide as historical
factdespite the fact that Canada is considered a foremost defender of human
Dr. Basmadjian reiterated the current understanding that at this stage, the
ministers constituting the government would be voting against the measure, but
that members of parliament (MPs) belonging to the governing party would be
allowed to vote according to their conscience. The ANC reps therefore
that the government not apply indirect pressure against those MPs.
Dr. Basmadjian explained that all MPs from two of the opposition parties, and
the vast majority of MPs from the third opposition party, are expected to vote
in favor of the M-380. Therefore, he pointed out, the government party would
find itself in an untenable position if its majority were to vote against a
motion that is a matter of conscience and human rights.
After discussing various details, Deputy Prime Minister McLellan promised to
give serious consideration to the practical suggestions and proposals
to her during the meeting.

3) Aliyev Says Russian Troops in Armenia a Danger to Region

ISTANBUL–The Turkish press reported on various statements made by Azeri
President Ilham Aliyev recently.
Aliyev, who is in Turkey on an official visit, referred to the Russian armed
forces deployed in Armenia, saying they pose a danger to the region.
He said that although the Russians no longer take sides, which signifies
progress, as they sided with Armenia previously, more action must be taken
because Armenia is an occupying power. “Russia must clearly recognize that
fact,” Aliyev said. “It is wrong to treat the occupier and victim equally.”
Aliyev asserted that Armenia behaves unilaterally and does not carry out the
recommendations of international organizations. He pointed to the continued
presence of Russian forces in Armenia, saying that they have been reinforced
with Russian troops from Georgia.
“In the other countries of the Caucasus, there are no Russian troops,” he
said. “There are none in Azerbaijan and never will be.”
Aliyev questioned who exactly the Russian forces in Armenia are confronting.
“There was a Cold War before, but there is no such thing now.”
According to Aliyev, the Russian troops are a threat not only against
Azerbaijan and Turkey but also Georgia. “In this matter, Iran stands by
Azerbaijan, but prefers not to get involved,” he said.
Aliyev expressed satisfaction that Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have agreed that
Armenia must withdraw from Karabagh. “Those two countries have strategic
importance, and through their initiative, a new process has begun, he said.

4) Key Parliament Gunman Found Dead in Jail

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–One of the five gunmen who had gone on a killing spree in
Armenia’s parliament in October 1999 was found dead in his prison cell on
Authorities said Vram Galstian, who was serving a life sentence along with
other attackers, committed suicide by hanging himself in Yerevan’s Nubarashen
high-security prison. Representatives of Red Cross and three human rights
organizations were invited to check the official cause of death.
“They opened the cell and we saw him hanging from a tightly knotted bed
sheet,” said Avetik Ishkhanian of the Armenian Helsinki Committee. “They did
not let us see if there are any traces of violence, saying that an
investigation is underway.”
A former villager from the central Gegharkunik province, Galstian was the
uncle of ringleader Nairi Hunanian and his brother Karen. The brothers were
convicted last December of assassinating Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian,
parliament speaker Karen Demirchian, and five other officials during the shock
raid on the National Assembly on October 27, 1999. Galstian was found
guilty of
shooting a lawmaker moments before the armed group burst into the main
parliament auditorium.
According to Samvel Hovannisian, head of a Justice Ministry department
Armenia’s prisons, Galstian was placed in solitary confinement at his request
“three or four days” before his death. “He said he could not live with the
other inmates in his previous cell.”
Hovannisian also said Galstian suffered from a mental illness and attempted
suicide on several occasions. “In the past, inmates sharing the cell with him
complained about his aggressive behavior,” said Hovannisian.
But Ishkhanian informed that a prison psychologist visited the convict as
recently as April 13 and found no signs of “disturbance.” Ishkhanian noted
he and the other human rights activist were not allowed to interview the
prisoners in Galstian’s former cell.

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