ASBAREZ Online [05-06-2004]


1) Council of Europe Not the Politburo, Says Kocharian
2) Parliament and Opposition Leaders Meet
3) Hardliner Abashidze Flees Ajaria
4) Azerbaijan Not Ready for Risks or Responsibilities
5) ANC Praises Republicans for Advancing Genocide Reaffirmation

1) Council of Europe Not the Politburo, Says Kocharian

YEREVAN (Armenpress/RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian said on Thursday said
that while he finds the recommendations of last week’s Parliamentary Assembly
of the Council of Europe (PACE) resolution “normal,” he disagrees with its
assessment of the Armenian authorities’ response to the street protests
launched by the opposition one month ago.
The April 28 resolution warns Armenian authorities that PACE will consider
stripping the Armenian delegation’s voting rights in the Assembly, unless it
remedies, by September, abuses addressed in the resolution.
“We are reviewing [the document]. I see no particularly big problems in its
content,” he told journalists. “But there are quite serious inaccuracies in
description and chronology of events.”
He said that a response to the descriptive segment of the resolution will
in a few days, while an official response will be submitted to the June
of PACE. He also said that a PACE monitoring delegation will arrive in
soon to examine the situation first-hand.
“The Council of Europe is an organization of which we are also a member. We
have a right to vote and express our opinion there. We are there to defend our
common interests, not to clear domestic matters,” stressed Kocharian, adding
that the Council of Europe should not be perceived as the Soviet Union’s
governing Communist Party Politburo. “You must not regard the Council of
as the former Politburo where they made and imposed decisions.”
Though important, the decisions of PACE are not binding for the Council of
Europe leadership.
Kocharian also downplayed fears that international focus on Armenia’s
political instability would affect foreign investment into the country.
“Armenia’s economy will suffer greater damage if investors begin to question
the ability of authorities to establish order in the country.” He admitted,
however, that recent tensions will bear some negative impact. “Those people
attempting to escalate tensions do not realize that negative repercussions
eventually be felt by all Armenian citizens.”

2) Parliament and Opposition Leaders Meet

YEREVAN–Opposition leaders and 13 senior representatives of all parliament
factions met behind closed doors late Thursday to try to defuse political
tensions sparked by the month-long opposition campaign against President
Initiated by parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian, the talks began late in
the afternoon and lasted for about five hours.
A brief statement issued by the participants afterward said they agreed on
“necessity to create a new situation in the country” and that a 32-point
for further “consultations” was formulated.
According to one of the negotiators for the Justice party Victor Dallakian,
the agenda will be disclosed by Friday.

3) Hardliner Abashidze Flees Ajaria

BATUMI (AFP)–Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili triumphantly arrived in
the Black Sea region of Ajaria after the province’s renegade leader resigned
and flew into exile in dramatic scenes overnight.
Georgian officials announced new elections to choose a replacement for ousted
leader Aslan Abashidze and appointed an interim administration to run
Ajaria–site of the region’s biggest oil terminal–until a new leader is
“I congratulate you all,” a jubilant Saakashvili said as he arrived in Ajaria
to chair a meeting of his ministers.
“We have shown the world that we are a great people. Only we could have
two bloodless revolutions in six months,” he said.
Abashidze’s departure in the early hours of Thursday morning was the final
of last year’s revolution, in which Saakashvili led weeks of protests which
forced then President Eduard Shevardnadze to go into retirement.
But the Ajarian chief, a member of Shevardnadze’s old guard, stayed on, and
until Thursday, had defied the authority of the capital, Tbilisi, and shown
growing separatist tendencies.
Russian news agencies reported that Abashidze had landed in Moscow,
accompanied by Russia’s Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov, who had
flown to Ajaria to help mediate the conflict.
His departure avoided what many feared would be a bloody separatist war,
causing turmoil in Georgia just as Western oil companies are building a
multi-billion-dollar pipeline through the country to export oil from the
Caspian Sea to world markets.
With Abashidze’s 12-year rule over Ajaria suddenly over and his feared
paramilitaries handing in their weapons, Saakashvili’s administration set
filling in the power vacuum.
Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania said on Ajarian television that new
elections would be called and announced the creation of a commission, made up
of Saakashvili aides and local figures, to run the region in the interim.
But he said that Ajaria’s autonomous status within Georgia, enshrined in law
since the start of the last century, would be respected.
“The new elections will be held with due account taken of Ajaria’s special
status, which will now be finally clarified by a special constitutional law,”
Zhvania said.
On the streets of Ajaria’s palm tree-lined capital Batumi Thursday, the last
vestiges of Abashidze’s rule were being swept away.
Special forces troops from Tbilisi were in position outside government
buildings, instead of the masked men in camouflage fatigues who had propped up
Abashidze’s regime.
Drop-off points were set up around the city where civilians could hand in the
weapons they were given by Abashidze’s security forces to defend against an
invasion from Tbilisi.
Meanwhile some 2,000 Saakashvili supporters were holding a celebratory rally
outside the local administration building chanting “Misha!,
Misha!”–Saakashvili’s affectionate nickname.
It was a token of their new freedom. Previous opposition rallies in Batumi
been brutally dispersed by police loyal to Abashidze, with dozens of people
Abashidze is a former Communist official who had ruled his corner of Georgia
with a rod of iron and appointed his own relatives to key positions.
His fate was sealed this week when thousands of his opponents took to the
streets to demand his resignation, defying the police.
At the same time Saakashvili, the 36-year-old who came to power in last
“rose revolution” in the Georgian capital, introduced direct presidential rule
and Georgian special forces were dropped in to Ajaria by helicopter.
Abashidze appeared to have made use of an offer from the Georgian
president of
safe passage out of the country for him and his family if he agreed to go

4) Azerbaijan Not Ready for Risks or Responsibilities

YEREVAN (Armenpress/Yerkir)–Karabagh leader Arkady Ghukasian reiterated that
the Mountainous Karabagh conflict cannot be resolved unless Stepanakert
a full party to negotiations.
“Sooner or later, Azeri leaders will have to agree to negotiate with
and I am confident that the international community shares this very
viewpoint,” said Ghukasian, citing an OSCE Budapest summit resolution
identifying Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Mountainous Karabagh as the parties to
Citing Azeri “distrust, enmity, and war rhetoric,” Ghukasian said that the
“package solution” must be sought, rather than the “step-by-step approach.”
While the first proposes settling key problems, including status, security
guarantees, and troop withdrawal, with a single, comprehensive agreement, the
latter calls for Armenia to surrender specific buffer zones to Azerbaijan, in
exchange of deployment of international peacekeepers in Mountainous Karabagh.
“We have the resources to resolve the conflict in one to two years, but we
should also realize that resolution and peace contain certain risks;
Azerbaijan’s leaders do realize this, and are not ready today to take the
and shoulder responsibilities.”
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 earlier this week that the Group’s activity is apparent, and
that “the co-chairmen are determined to deal with the problem.”

5) ANC Praises Republicans for Advancing Genocide Reaffirmation

LOS ANGELES–The largest Armenian-American grassroots public affairs
organization in the Western US praised a number of Republican legislators in
the US Congress for their outstanding support on issues of concern to tens of
thousands of Armenian-American voters throughout California, Nevada, and other
western states.
In a statement, the Armenian National Committee of America–Western Region
also commended Republican Governors of Idaho, Montana, and Nebraska for
officially acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.
A record number of Governors issued proclamations this April acknowledging
Armenian Genocide and April 24 as a Day of Remembrance. The list includes
Republican Governors Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho, Judy Martz of Montana, and Mike
Johanns of Nebraska.
The ANCA-WR also applauded California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s move
designating April 24 a Day of Remembrance for the Genocide, as well as
Republican State Senator Chuck Poochigian’s powerful proclamation at the April
24 Commemoration in Montebello, California.
“We appreciate the work of our Republican friends, particularly the Governors
and members of Congress who support the ANC’s initiatives to raise awareness
about the Armenian Genocide and urge Congress to pass resolutions
this crime against humanity,” said ANCA-WR Government Relations Director Armen
Last week, the Nevada ANC honored Senator John Ensign (R-NV) as the “ANC Man
of the Year” for his staunch support of Armenian-American issues. Senator
Ensign introduced Senate Resolution 164, reaffirming US’s commitment to
preventing genocides and punishing perpetrators of genocide. The legislation
also clearly identifies the mass murder of Armenians from 1915 to 1923 as a
case of genocide. The bill is currently backed by 39 Senators, nine of whom
Several months ago, ANC-Orange County honored Congressman Ed Royce
(R-Fullerton) with its Freedom Award for his consistent support of issues that
concern Armenian-American constituents. Just last week, Royce, who serves on
the influential International Relations Committee, reaffirmed his pledge to
fight for official acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide while addressing
ANCA Capitol Hill Armenian Genocide Observance.
At its largest annual event, the ANCA-WR presented Congressman George
Radanovich (R-Fresno) its “Man of the Year” honor several months ago for his
dedication and commitment. Radanovich is the principal author and sponsor of
H.R. 193, which acknowledges the Armenian Genocide. The legislation passed
unanimously in the House Judiciary Committee on May 21, 2003 and awaits a vote
on the House Floor.

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