ASBAREZ Online [05-05-2004]


1) Coalition Partners Prepared to Resume Talks with Opposition
2) Kocharian Signs Bill on Public Rallies
3) Aliyev’s View on Minsk Group Becomes Rosy
4) Territories Must Be Returned, Says Balayan
5) Professor Hovanissian Sets the Record Straight
6) Georgian President Imposes Direct Presidential Rule in Rebel Ajaria

1) Coalition Partners Prepared to Resume Talks with Opposition

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian urged leaders of
Armenia’s main governing and opposition parties on Wednesday, to restart talks
on ways of defusing the month-long political tensions in the country.
In a statement, Baghdasarian said he invites the leaders of all parliamentary
factions to attend further “political consultations” that will take place in
his office on Thursday. The statement adds that the Council of Europe’s calls
for a “dialogue without preconditions” between the authorities and the
opposition necessitates resumption of talks.
Opposition leaders indicated their support for renewed talks, also citing the
resolution adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
(PACE) last week, but insisted that President Kocharian must also become
directly involved in the proposed dialogue.
The first round of talks between the opposition and the governing Armenian
Revolutionary Federation, Orinats Yerkir, and Republican parties broke down
last week.
The leaders of the Artarutyun (Justice) alliance and the National Unity Party
(AMK) announced on Tuesday that they are taking a “ten-day break” in their
campaign of anti-Kocharian street protests, but still insist that dialogue
focus on President Kocharian’s resignation.
The parliament majority rejects preconditions, proposing instead that the
opposition be given say in government policy-making.

2) Kocharian Signs Bill on Public Rallies

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–President Robert Kocharian signed into law a bill passed
earlier by the parliament on the holding of assemblies, rallies, marches, and
Kocharian’s press office said the law strives to ensure rights of citizens to
hold peaceful and unarmed rallies, meetings, processions, and demonstrations,
ensure security of government and public facilities, maintain public order and
physical protection of citizens, as well as their rights and freedoms.

3) Aliyev’s View on Minsk Group Becomes Rosy

BAKU (Armenpress)–In a reversal of previous opinion on the effectiveness of
the Minsk Group, which spearheads the Organization for Security and
Co-Operation in Europe’s (OSCE) efforts to find a political solution to this
conflict, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said that group’s activity is apparent,
and that “the co-chairmen are determined to deal with the problem.”
Aliyev told reporters on Wednesday that process of regulating the Mountainous
Karabagh conflict is underway, though not very actively, and expressed hope
that the efforts of the Minks Group would bring positive results. “If we do
believe this, then negotiations become senseless,” he said.
He said that his meeting with Armenian president Robert Kocharian held in
Geneva and Warsaw were positive and that negotiations between the foreign
ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan are also progressing.
Only about a month ago, Aliyev attacked the Minsk Group, saying it has done
“nothing positive” since being set up in 1992.
The two presidents, along with the OSCE Minsk group co-chairmen, will meet
again in Strasbourg on May 12.

4) Territories Must Be Returned, Says Balayan

(A1plus)–Shahumyan-Getashen Patriotic Union leader Edik Balayan, said on
Wednesday the Union demands that the issue of liberating Getashen,
and other Armenian villages be raised when negotiating the Karabagh conflict
Citing the fact that 20,000 Armenians were driven from territories bordering
Karabagh, and that 17,000 were driven from their homes to take refuge in
Armenia, he said, “We have no intention to cede our territories and will keep
on struggling to get them back.”

5) Professor Hovanissian Sets the Record Straight

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–Professor Richard Hovanissian blasted Moscow-based political
analyst Andranik Migranian, during a Wednesday press conference organized to
announce an upcoming conference about factors in regulating Armenian-Turkish
relations. The conference of mostly well-known scholars is to take place in
Yerevan, May 6-7, at the National Academy of Sciences.
Migranian, a member of the now dissolved Turkish Armenian Reconciliation
Commission (TARC), in addressing the break-up of the Commission, said that
played a great role in getting the New York Times to lift its long-standing
policy against the use of the term “Armenian Genocide.”
“We must speak well of the dead [TARC]–as the Commission played a great role
lately in getting the influential American [newspaper], the New York Times, to
allow usage of the word genocide when referring to [the Armenian] Genocide,”
Migranian asserted.
Hovannisian, who holds the Armenian Educational Foundation Chair in Modern
Armenian History at the University of California, Los Angeles and is the
of numerous publications relating to the Republic of Armenia, responded
saying that the Commission had absolutely no influence on the New York Times
“I know the Turkish members of that Commission; they all categorically
represent the Turkish Government,” Hovannisian said, adding that he does not
expect definite results from the upcoming conference, as the views of genocide
scholars and analysts will not necessarily correspond.

6) Georgian President Imposes Direct Presidential Rule in Rebel Ajaria

TBILISI (Combined Sources)–Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili imposed
direct presidential rule over the separatist region of Ajaria, amid a tense
standoff with the province’s renegade leader Aslan Abashidze.
“I am introducing direct presidential rule in Ajaria,” the Georgian president
said in a nationally televised address.
Saakashvili pledged to guarantee the safety of Abashidze and his team if the
renegade leader bowed to pressure and resigned.
“I take upon myself full responsibility and give a guarantee of safety to
Aslan Abashidze, but only if he voluntarily leaves his post. I am also
guarantees to Abashidze’s family. If they wish to remain on Georgian territory
then they will have full guarantees for their safety,” Saakashvili said.
The Georgian president said that he contacted Washington and Moscow to see if
they were willing to offer Abashidze asylum.
“I spoke with President (Vladimir) Putin and the White House and asked
them to
give political asylum to Abashidze and his family. We have not yet received an
answer to that question, but we have said that we would not seek their
extradition back to Georgia to stand trial.”
“We are ready to be magnanimous in victory and forgive everything but the
to disarm has arrived,” he said.
Georgian government spokesman Guga Sulkhanishvili said on Wednesday, that a
top Russian official is flying to Georgia for talks on the crisis in Georgia
rebel region of Ajaria. “The Secretary of the Russian Security Council Igor
Ivanov…will fly to Tbilisi and will hold talks with the government of
Ivanov was Russian foreign minister until he was switched to head Putin’s top
security body in a government reshuffle in March. He played a key role in
mediating a confrontation in Georgia last November which culminated in the
resignation of veteran leader Eduard Shevardnadze.
Crowds of protesters in the port of Batumi, their ranks swollen by uniformed
policemen and state media workers who switched sides to join a 5,000-strong
rally against the rebel leader, pointed to Abashidze’s fast crumbling
As the groundswell of protest rose, the Georgian government said Ajaria’s
Black Sea oil port at Batumi had been planted with explosives and the
consequences could be catastrophic.
Abashidze’s resignation would underpin Georgian president Mikhail
Saakashvili’s popularity and authority.
Saakashvili, who came to power after a revolution last year, has made reining
in rebel regions a priority, ordering Abashidze to reform or stand down.
“You have two or three hours to obey the president of Georgia and avoid
bloodshed,” Security Council head Vano Merebishvili told state television.
Unlike the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Ajaria has never
sought formal independence from the government but is outside government
Georgia ordered Abashidze to bow to central rule by May 12, after his local
militia blew up bridges linking Ajaria with the Georgian heartland.
Abashidze, 65 and in power for the past 14 years has so far, ignored all
for his resignation and instead has reinforced a state of emergency, closing
universities and sending police to disperse demonstrations.

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