ASBAREZ Online [04-21-2004]


1) BREAKING NEWS: Canada Recognizes Armenian Genocide
2) Turkey Deals Blow to EU Bid, Convicts Jailed Kurdish Activists in Retrial
3) Anticipation Surrounds Canadian Parliament Vote
4) TARC Sought to Gain Publicity, Not Results Says Mkrtchian
5) Quebec’s National Assembly Commemorates Armenian Genocide
6) Kocharian, Ordway Discuss Millennium Challenge Account
7) Construction of Modern Nuclear Power Plant a Viable Option



OTTAWA (ANCA)–With an overwhelmingly favorable vote of 153 to 68 in
Parliament today, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member Canada
joined the growing number of nations that have formally recognized the
Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The motion reads, simply “That this House acknowledges the Armenian genocide
of 1915 and condemns this act as a crime against humanity.’
“Armenians in America and throughout the world welcome this historic step by
Canada,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “The Canadian
Parliament, in rejecting intense Turkish government pressure, took an
step in further isolating Turkey for its shameful, international campaign of
genocide denial.”
Today’s action, which followed yesterday’s second reading of the Armenian
Genocide Resolution, Bill M-380, is the culmination of more than twenty years
of work by the Armenian National Committee of Canada, (ANCC) in Ottawa,
Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and throughout the country. An ANCC team has
been in the nation’s capital for the past several weeks representing the
community’s views on this matter.
Bill M-380 was introduced last year by Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Bloc
Québecois), seconded by Sarkis Assadurian (Liberal), Alexa McDonogugh
Democratic Party), Jason Kenney (Conservative Party). On February 21st, the
Parliament held its first reading, which included an hour of debate on the
measure. Among those speaking in favor of the Resolution during the first
reading were Derek Lee (Liberal), Eleni Bakopnaos (Liberal), Francine Lalonde
(BQ), Stockwell Day (PC) and the Hon, Lorne Nystrom (NDP).
The governing Liberal leadership paved the way for this vote by allowing a
“free vote,” meaning that individual members are allowed to vote their
conscience, without any pressure or negative repercussions from their
respective party leaderships.

2) Turkey Deals Blow to EU Bid, Convicts Jailed Kurdish Activists in Retrial

ANKARA (AFP)–A Turkish court convicted human rights award winner Leyla Zana
and three other former Kurdish lawmakers in a retrial and ordered them to stay
in jail, in a highly criticized verdict likely to hurt Turkey’s aspirations to
become a member of the European Union.
The panel of three judges at the state security court here unanimously
a 15-year prison sentence on Zana, Hatip Dicle, Orhan Dogan and Selim Sadak,
confirming their 1994 convictions for membership of an armed Kurdish rebel
Under Turkish law, the four former lawmakers, who have already been in jail
for a decade, will be up for release in 2005.
Wednesday’s ruling was promptly denounced by the European Commission and
European observers closely following the retrial which the European Court of
Human Rights had ordered after finding the original 1994 proceedings unfair.
The verdict “gives rise to serious concern in the light of the (EU’s)
political criteria and casts a negative shadow on the implementation of
political reforms in Turkey,” a spokesman for the commission said in
In Ankara, Luigi Vinci–a member of the European Parliament, which awarded
43-year-old Zana its Sakharov prize in 1995–described the verdict as
“shameful” and said: “This verdict is an insult to the European Union and the
European Court of Human Rights which had ordered a retrial.”
German parliament speaker Wolfgan Thierse, on an official visit to Ankara,
also warned that the verdict could present an obstacle to the mainly Muslim
country’s efforts to integrate with Europe.
“It will be very difficult for Turkey to overcome the effect that this trial
will have abroad,” Thierse told Turkish officials, according to German
The retrial of Zana and her co-defendants–seen by the European Union as a
test of Ankara’s resolve to embrace European democratic norms ahead of a key
December decision on whether to start membership talks–was also condemned by
critics as flawed.
“The court referred to our defendants as ‘convicts’ from day one. That
finished it all. We have been knowingly striving for nothing for the past 13
months,” defense lawyer Yusuf Alatas told reporters.
Stuart Kerr of the International Commission of Jurists–a Geneva-based
watchdog of compliance with international law–also accused the court of
“Unfortunately, we have not been satisfied that there has been a fair trial.
Of particular concern was the violation of the presumption of innocence,” he
Alatas said they would appeal the verdict and go to the European Court of
Human Rights again if need be.
“I have to say with regret that I believe this trial will also be
condemned by
the European Court of Human Rights and this will be a first in the world,” he
The four defendants were not in the courtroom on Wednesday as they have been
boycotting the proceedings in protest at the progress of the trial.
Zana entered the Turkish parliament in 1991, becoming the first Kurdish woman
to do so, and caused an uproar during her swearing-in ceremony by speaking
Kurdish in the general assembly.
In December 1994, the four were sentenced to 15 years in jail on charges of
belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The PKK led a 15-year bloody campaign for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey’s
mainly Kurdish southeast. It declared a ceasefire in 1998, and since the
capture of its leader Abdullah Ocalan the following year, it has vowed to
pursue peaceful means for political change.
In 2001, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the trial against Zana
and the others had been unfair because they had been unable to have key
witnesses questioned and had not been informed in time of changes to the
charges against them.
They were allowed a retrial in March 2003 under democratic reforms Ankara
adopted to bring itself in line with the EU.

3) Anticipation Surrounds Canadian Parliament Vote

OTTAWA–Canadian-Armenians anxiously await the outcome of the vote on M-380, a
motion in the Canadian parliament acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and
condemning it as a crime against humanity. The vote was scheduled for late
The Canadian government has a history of a negative position vis-à-vis
official recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and has actively lobbied
adoption of motions on the Armenian Genocide.
The understanding between the government and the Armenian National Committee
of Canada this time around, is that 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
The Turkish Ambassador to Canada has also become involved, calling on members
of parliament to vote against the motion, citing harm to Turkish-Canadian
economic and political interests.
Armenia’s Ambassador to Canada, in turn, has written MPs, urging them to
the resolution.
Canadian companies SNC Lavalin and Bombardier urged parliament’s Conservative
Party members to strike down the motion, saying that its passage would harm
economic interests of Canada and Turkey.
Bombardier has a deal with Turkey to construct a railway; SNC Lavalin built
the Ankara subway and has ongoing contracts with Turkey.
Turks from throughout the US and Canada have been carrying out an extensive
e-mail campaign against the adoption of the resolution, while the ANCC and the
AYF of Canada, have conducted their own massive e-mail campaign in favor of

4) TARC Sought to Gain Publicity, Not Results Says Mkrtchian

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–ARF’s Levon Mkrtchian addressed the negative
consequences of the Armenian Turkish Reconciliation Commission (TARC)
during an
April 21 seminar in Yerevan organized by the Nigol Aghbalian Student
Association and the section of the Middle Eastern Studies Club dealing with
Armenian Case. The seminar dealt with processes in gaining international
recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Mkrtchian said that TARC not only disrupted the internal unity of the
people, but it also hindered efforts to gain international recognition of the
Armenian Genocide.
Mkrtchian, who is the ARF faction head in Armenia’s National Assembly,
asserted that TARC was set up in the heat of struggling for the international
recognition of the Genocide, when the process of international recognition of
the Genocide was at a very successful level in the US. “The process had
Europe, and there was real panic in Turkish circles, and among Turkey’s
Addressing TARC’s goals, Mkrtchian said it was established more so for
publicity than seeing results. “Certain persons with scientific or diplomatic
experience united, and tried to speak with similar people from the neighboring
The questions that consistently remained since TARC’s inception, said
Mkrtchian, were: “Who authorized that certain persons represent Armenia, and
approved their level of representation; what were the primary topics of
conversations; what fundamental approach was clarified, and to what degree did
the approach consider the position of various Armenian political layers; and
how informed is the Armenian society, or at least the political arena of
the an
established agenda?”
Mkrtchian said that the 1998 inclusion of the international recognition of
Genocide in Armenia’s foreign policy agenda can be considered our greatest
victory, because it has become, in essence, the Armenian government’s
policy to
take care of national issues and pursue a solution within the framework of
international law.
“As a result of the persistent, decades-long effort–first in the Diaspora,
then within Armenia, the pursuit for international recognition is yielding
concrete results,” said Mkrtchian, pointing to official recognition by the
parliaments of various countries.

5) Quebec’s National Assembly Commemorates Armenian Genocide

MONTREAL (ANCC)–The National Assembly of Quebec commemorated the 89th
anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in the presence of his Eminence
Khajag Hagopian, Prelate of the Prelacy of Canada, as well as a delegation
the Armenian National Committee of Quebec. In a motion that was passed
unanimously, parliamentarians paid tribute to the 1.5 million victims of the
Genocide and the resulting impact of the survivors as well as their progeny.
The National Assembly of Quebec has commemorated the Armenian Genocide since
1980, and in November 2003, passed a law designating April 24 as a day of
commemoration for the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian National Committee of
Quebec is a grassroots organization representing the interests of the Armenian
Community in Quebec.

6) Kocharian, Ordway Discuss Millennium Challenge Account

YEREVAN (Armenpress/US State Dept.)–President Robert Kocharian met with US
ambassador to Armenia John Ordway and USAID/Armenia Mission Director of Robin
Philips, on Wednesday to discuss US humanitarian aid projects implemented in
Armenia, as well as Armenia’s participation in the Millennium Challenge
(MCA), a program designed to spur economic growth and attract necessary
investment to poorer countries seeking to finance their own futures.
Under the MCA, qualifying countries propose specific programs to address the
greatest obstacles to their development. MCA will be awarded to governments,
non-governmental organizations, and private organizations, for programs that
promote good governance, further economic reform and anti-corruption efforts,
develop enterprise and the private sector, build capacity for trade and
investment, raise agricultural productivity, and promote health and education.
A new government corporation will administer MCA grants to ensure effective

7) Construction of Modern Nuclear Power Plant a Viable Option

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s energy Minister Armen Movsisian said that
Armenia’s nuclear power plant will operate until an alternative energy source,
with the capacity of producing the same amount of energy at equal cost is
found. He added that the European Union’s proposed $100 million in assistance
covers only an eighth of the total funds necessary to find an alternative
energy source.
He suggested that the construction a modern nuclear power plant in Armenia
presents a more viable solution than the option of producing alternative
energy; however, Movsisian noted that Armenia’s budget is unable to cover the
immense cost in building a new plant.
Asked about the handling of nuclear waste, the minister said that by way of a
grant from the French government, dry warehouses currently in use were built
for that specific purpose.

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