ASBAREZ Online [04-28-2004]


1) Kocharian, Aliyev Foresee More Frequent Meetings
2) Uruguay Parliament Marks 89th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide
3) Georgia War Games near Defiant Rebel Region
4) Council of Europe Head Offers to Mediate Armenia Standoff
5) Armenian Dram Hits Three-year High against US Dollar

1) Kocharian, Aliyev Foresee More Frequent Meetings

WARSAW (AFP/Armenpress)–The presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia met on
Wednesday on the sidelines of a European economic summit to discuss the
Mountainous Karabagh conflict.
“They had a constructive discussion. They have agreed to meet again. No date
was set,” said a diplomat, after what was only the second meeting between
Armenian President Robert Kocharian and his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev.
two last met in December, while the foreign ministers of Armenia and
have met more recently.
President Kocharian told reporters that an agreement was reached for the
foreign ministers of both countries to meet regularly. Armenia’s foreign
minister Vartan Oskanian and his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mamedyarov will meet
in May.
In turn, the presidents agreed to meet on the sidelines of international
summits, conferences, and meetings to continue peace talks. Kocharian said he
was satisfied with the basic nature of the Warsaw meeting.
The entire body of the Minsk Group, a 13-nation grouping within the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that has been
seeking to mediate between the two sides, was present during the meeting.
“The Azeri side wants to regulate this issue; a similar will is noticed from
the Armenian side as well. That’s why we may find a way out and progress,”
Aliyev said.
Mamedyarov said that Azerbaijan’s approach in negotiations is to propose the
return of “occupied” lands and restoration of transportation routes.
Asked whether Azerbaijan demands that negotiations start from scratch, and
whether previous Azeri President Heidar Aliyev’s approach was wrong, the
foreign minister said, “We do not say that the peace talks must be started
the very beginning,” and suggested that previous negotiations and headway be
reassessed based on the most recent dialogue between Kocharian and Aliyev.

2) Uruguay Parliament Marks 89th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide


MONTEVIDEO–For the fourth year running, on April 24, the Parliament of
Uruguay, in cooperation with the Armenian National Committee, organized the
year’s main commemorative event on the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
The grand hall of the Parliament, reserved for special ceremonies, was packed
with members of the Uruguayan Armenian community. Present at the invitation of
the Parliament’s Presidency were high-level diplomats, including the
ambassadors of Greece, Russia, Peru, Bolivia, and Romania.
Those who addressed the solemn gathering included Members of Parliament from
the four political groupings represented in Parliament: the Colorado Party,
National party, the New Sector/Space Coalition, and the Progressive
Encounter/Broad Front Coalition.
The left-wing Progressive Encounter’s representative, Enrique Pintado, who is
Chairman of the Chamber of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs,
announced, “Our Committee unanimously decided ‘to declare April 24 as a day to
condemn and reject all genocides’ and will pursue with our foreign minister
submission of this decision to an upcoming session of the United Nations.”
On behalf of the Armenian community of Uruguay, Sarkis Kouyoumdjian addressed
the commemorative gathering, expressing words of appreciation to the
parliament, government, and people of Uruguay for their support of the
Other Armenian Genocide commemorative events taking place in Uruguay April
22-25 included a youth vigil, a showing of the movie Ararat, a service for the
repose of souls, and a wreath-laying ceremony. The events were organized by
Armenian National Committee and “Armenia” youth organization.

News sources: Uruguay Armenian National Committee and Diocesan Executive.

3) Georgia War Games near Defiant Rebel Region

TBILISI (Reuters)–Georgia positioned more troops and armor close to Ajaria on
Wednesday for a major military exercise certain to fuel further tension with
its rebel Black Sea region.
The three-day Dioscuria-2004 maneuvers start on Friday as a standoff
between new Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and Ajarian leader Aslan
Abashidze over control of the region that has a lucrative oil port at Batumi.
Abashidze, who has been engaged in verbal dueling with Saakashvili for weeks,
denounced the exercise.
“Tbilisi is heating up tensions to the extreme with such unprovoked actions,”
he told Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency.
But Saakashvili, on a visit to Poland, said Ajaria was not a target of the
exercise at the Kulevi training ground 30 km (20 miles) from its border.
“No kind of military action can be taken anywhere in Georgia, especially in
Ajaria,” Saakashvili told reporters in Warsaw. “In Ajaria everything will be
sorted out peacefully.”
Ajaria, is one of three regions that slipped out of Tbilisi’s control after
Georgia gained independence from the Soviet Union in late 1991.
But unlike separatist Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which fought bloody wars
with Tbilisi, Ajaria has never claimed formal independence from Georgia.
Nearly 2,000 servicemen from ex-Soviet Georgia’s armed forces and a quarter of
its 120 pieces of armor–tanks and armored vehicles–will take part in the
exercise. Military aircraft were expected to arrive on Wednesday.
Georgia’s Defense Ministry said the exercise will provide training on
protecting oil pipelines from “terrorists” and on carrying out raids on
drug-producing laboratories.
Georgia’s Black Sea coast has no major pipelines, but an international
pipeline is under construction to take Caspian oil to the Mediterranean
the eastern part of the country.
Tbilisi and the region came close to military confrontation last month after
Saakashvili was initially blocked from entering the province. He subsequently
traveled to the Ajarian regional capital of Batumi where he held inconclusive
crisis talks with Abashidze.
Abashidze turned the region into a relatively prosperous personal fiefdom
turmoil across Georgia in the 1990s.
Ajaria, which apart from the oil port hosts a key customs point on Georgia’s
border with Turkey, does not contribute to the national budget and has its own
military force.
Saakashvili, who became president after leading a bloodless coup against
former President and ex-Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze last
November, has promised to restore Tbilisi’s control over the whole country and
has accused Abashidze of turning Ajaria into a haven for criminals.

4) Council of Europe Head Offers to Mediate Armenia Standoff


YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The secretary general of the Council of Europe Walter
Schwimmer, on Wednesday called on the Armenian government and the
opposition to
resolve their bitter dispute through negotiation and offered to mediate in
a dialogue, and urged the opposition to “return to parliament from the
“The Council of Europe supports the dialogue between the authorities and the
opposition, and has a successful experience of sponsoring it in various
countries,” Schwimmer told a news conference in Strasbourg. He said his
permanent representative Yerevan Natalia Voutova, is ready to assist in
arranging direct contact between the two sides.
The offer came just hours before the organization’s Parliamentary Assembly
(PACE) was due to discuss the tense situation in Armenia. The issue was
included on the agenda of the PACE’s spring session at the last minute despite
objections voiced by Armenian lawmakers.
A draft PACE resolution drawn up by a committee monitoring Armenia’s
compliance with its membership commitments notes that the authorities have
ignored Council of Europe demands to stop using the country’s controversial
Code of Administrative Offenses for imprisoning participants of opposition
It does, however, say that the Armenian opposition “should refrain from
attempts to use street demonstrations to reverse the results of last year’s
elections, which have been, in spite of the irregularities, validated by
relevant national and international bodies.”
Opposition representatives and leaders of the three parties represented in
Armenia’s coalition government met this week to try to ease the tensions. The
talks broke down on Tuesday, with the opposition accusing the government
coalition of showing no signs of accepting any of its ultimatums, including
calling for a referendum of confidence in Kocharian.

5) Armenian Dram Hits Three-year High against US Dollar

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian national currency, the dram, gained more ground
against the US dollar on Wednesday, registering its highest exchange rate
October 2000, despite weeks of political turmoil in the country.
The dram was trading at an average of 549 per dollar in Yerevan’s currency
exchange bureaus, making its value almost 3 percent higher than two months

Analysts found it hard to explain the phenomenon that countered recent global
currency rate trends of recent weeks. The Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) denies
any role in the dram’s strengthening, insisting that its floating rate is
determined by the market factors of demand and supply.
According to Tigran Jrbashian of the Sed Marsed consulting firm, demand in
dram is pushed up by payment of first-quarter profit taxes by businesses which
began on April 1. “The main reason for the dram’s strengthening is the
collection of quite a lot of taxes in the course of this year,” he said.
The Armenian government reported a 30 percent jump in its profit tax revenues
collected in the first three months of this year. The increase followed a
toughening of penalties for the widespread evasion of the 20 percent corporate
income tax.
The dram’s gains have been twice as stronger against another major world
currency–the euro. One euro is currently worth 652 drams, down from 702 drams
registered in late February. The difference seems to result from a recent
rebound in the dollar’s value in the international currency markets.
The dram thus remains effectively pegged to the dollar despite the European
Union’s status as Armenia’s number one trading partner. The EU’s common
currency drained the greenback of nearly a fifth of its value last year. The
dram similarly fell by almost 14 percent against the euro during the same

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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