ASBAREZ Online [05-07-2004]

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05/07/2004
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1) Armenia Eligible for Millennium Challenge Account Funding
2) New Hampshire Senators Cosponsor Genocide Resolution
3) Kocharian Leaves for Lebanon Monday
4) Karabagh DM Questions Azerbaijan’s Readiness to Start New War
5) Georgia Strengthens Grip on Ajaria
6) President Bush Appoints New Ambassador to Armenia
7) Conference on Armenian Communities of Iran

1) Armenia Eligible for Millennium Challenge Account Funding

Secretary Powell Announces List of 16 Countries Invited to Submit Proposals
for
Multi-Billion Dollar Aid Program

WASHINGTON, DC–The State Department announced that Armenia has been chosen to
be among a select group of 16 countries eligible for Millennium Challenge
Account funding, a new multi-billion dollar US program designed to provide
assistance to low-income countries that demonstrate a strong commitment toward
good governance and economic growth and reform, reported the Armenian National
Committee of America (ANCA.)
“We welcome the State Department’s decision to include Armenia in the first
tier of countries to participate in the MCA,” said ANCA Chairman Ken
Hachikian.
“The funds will create important opportunities for strengthening the Armenian
economy and helping the Armenian people overcome the ongoing, multi-billion
dollar impact of the dual Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades. We look
forward to
working with Armenian Government officials and the Millennium Challenge
Corporation to assist in the funding process ahead.”
The complete list of 16 countries eligible to apply for MCA funds includes:
Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Georgia, Ghana, Honduras, Lesotho,
Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and
Vanuatu.
President Bush first announced his intent to create the MCA in March, 2002.
The program is based on the premise that economic development succeeds best
where it is linked to free market economic and democratic principles and
policies. Eligibility under this program, which is only open to selected
low-income countries, is conditioned on sound policy performance and
accountability by recipient nations. This performance in measured by sixteen
quantifiable criteria in the areas of ruling justly, investing in people, and
economic freedom.
Overall funding for MCA will be $1 billion for Fiscal Year 2004, and is
expected to increase to $5 billion by Fiscal Year 2006. Although there are no
guaranties that its grant proposals will be funded, Armenia’s annual share
from
this new foreign aid program could be as much as $75 million a year.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, who serves as chairman of the Millennium
Challenge Corporation (MCC), developed to oversee the implementation of the
Millenium Challenge Account funds, stated, “This is a historic day for the
Millennium Challenge Corporation. The President’s vision has come to pass, and
today’s decision by the Board of Directors is a major step in implementing the
vision of the MCC.”
An ANCA study prepared in September of 2003 showed that Armenia was
well-positioned to receive MCA funding based on the 16 criteria set out by the
MCC. The study was distributed widely to Members of Congress and the
Administration as well as to representatives of the Armenian Government. In
the months that followed, the ANCA tracked Congressional hearings dealing with
MCA, where Members of Congress including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman
(D-CA) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY), spoke in support of Armenia’s participation
in the program and questioned early assertions that Armenia may not receive
first tier funding.
Upon learning of the MCC announcement, Rep. Schiff stated, “I am delighted to
see that Armenia is included in the first group of nations eligible to receive
funding under the Millennium Challenge Account. As a struggling democracy that
is economically isolated by an injurious blockade, Armenia is a prime
candidate
for MCA assistance. This is welcome news for Armenia and a good judgment by
the
MCA Board and State Department.”
MCA eligibility was among a series of topics brought up in high level
meetings
between Armenian Government officials and an ANCA delegation including
Chairman
Ken Hachikian, held in conjunction with an Armenian Foreign Ministry Armenian
Advocacy conference, held in Yerevan on May 3 and 4. The ANCA provided
specific
recommendations about the development of grant submissions to the MCA to
ensure
that Armenia, if selected, would receive a significant share of the first year
MCA awards.
According to the MCA Website (<;), eligible
countries will work with the MCC to develop a compact proposal for “achieving
sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.” Successful proposals would
be designed to:

–Engage a broad array of its society in coming up with its development
priorities;
–Identify the measurable objectives that it wants to achieve;
–Include a plan for achieving those objectives with targets to assess
progress;
–Develop transparent mechanisms to measure and evaluate whether targets are
being met and to ensure financial accountability; and
–Provide a plan for sustaining progress after the MCA compact ends.

The extent to which a country’s proposal meets the above requirements will
help determine whether and how much the MCC will invest in the country.

2) New Hampshire Senators Cosponsor Genocide Resolution

— Support for S.Res.164 Reaches 39 in the Senate

WASHINGTON, DC–New Hampshire Senators Judd Gregg and John Sununu agreed to
cosponsor the Genocide Resolution, S.Res.164, bringing the total number of
cosponsors to thirty-nine, reported the Armenian National Committee of America
(ANCA).
Both senators heard regularly from their New Hampshire constituents on this
matter over the past several months, reflecting the growing activism of the
Armenian American community in northern New England. Rhode Island Senator
Lincoln Chafee is the only New England area Senator yet to cosponsor the
legislation.
Most recently, a New Hampshire delegation of activists including Mike
Manoian,
Harry Alexanian, and Jeannette John spoke with representatives of both
Senators, at meetings coinciding with the ANCA Armenian Genocide Observance on
Capitol Hill, held on April 28.
Dr. Peter Balakian, whose recently published book, “The Burning Tigris”
extensively documents US humanitarian response to the Armenian Genocide,
detailed the importance of supporting Genocide prevention legislation during
the meeting with Sen. Gregg’s office.
“We join with the Armenian community of New Hampshire in welcoming the
support
of Senators Gregg and Sununu for the Genocide Resolution” said ANCA Executive
Director Aram Hamparian. “With the 89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide
commemorated just a few weeks ago, and the prospect of yet another genocide
developing in the Sudan as we speak, support for legislation like S.Res.164
has
never been more vital. We must, as a nation, reaffirm our commitment to the
aims of the Genocide Convention and ensure that the lessons of past genocides
are applied in the prevention of future crimes against humanity.”
A two-term Member of the Senate, Sen. Gregg is Chairman of the Health,
Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and serves on the Appropriations and
Budget Committees. Sen. John Sununu, now in his first term, serves on the
Foreign Relations, Banking, Governmental Affairs and Joint Economic
committees.
The Genocide resolution was introduced in the Senate in June, 2003 by
Senators
John Ensign (R-NV) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ). Its companion House measure,
H.Res.193, led by Representatives George Radanovich (R-CA), Adam Schiff
(D-CA),
and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe
Knollenberg (R-MI), was adopted unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee
last May and has 111 cosponsors. The resolution cites the importance of
remembering past crimes against humanity, including the Armenian Genocide,
Holocaust, Cambodian and Rwandan genocides, in an effort to stop future
atrocities. Support for the measure has been widespread, with a diverse
coalition of over 100 ethnic, religious, civil and human rights organizations
calling for its passage, including American Values, National Organization of
Women, Sons of Italy, NAACP, Union of Orthodox Rabbis, and the National
Council
of La Raza.

3) Kocharian Leaves for Lebanon Monday

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–President Robert Kocharian will visit Lebanon on May 10
at the invitation of Lebanese president Emile Lahoud. Kocharian is set to meet
with Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, parliament Chairman Nabi Berri, and deputy
Prime Minister Issam Fares as well.
He will hold meetings with head of the Great See of Cilicia Catholicos
Aram I,
Armenian Catholic Church Catholicos-Patriarch Nerses Tarmuni, leader of the
Armenian Evangelical Church in the Middle East Mkrtich Karagyozian, along with
representatives of the local Armenian community. Aside from official business,
Kocharian will visit local historical sights and monuments.

4) Karabagh DM Questions Azerbaijan’s Readiness to Start New War

STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources)–Karabagh’s defense minister Major General
Seiran Ohanian, said Thursday that there have not been considerable changes on
the Armenian-Azeri border in the last ten years since the establishment of the
1994 cease-fire.
During a meeting with reporters, the minister noted that reports disseminated
by Azeri mass media claiming Azeri forces have penetrated Karabagh’s positions
are explicit lies.
“Such propaganda naturally aims to make psychological attacks and terrorize
the peaceful population to create a feeling of fright and hopelessness, but
they are doomed to fail,” he said.
Answering questions on the possibility of war resuming again, Ohanian said
that technically, the war could restart any time, and stressed the need to
always be prepared. “Generally, resumption of war is possible at any time and
we should be ready for that. But I don’t think Azerbaijan is ready today to
resume military actions especially since a successful balance of power has
been
maintained.”
Commenting on the status of Karabagh’s army, the defense minister said the
army is not only ready defensively, but also to ready to counterattack. “In
recent years we have worked hard to strengthen ties between the people and the
army; when society and the army are united, they are undefeatable.”

5) Georgia Strengthens Grip on Ajaria

BATUMI (AP)–The legislature in Georgia’s Ajaria province has abolished the
post held by the former leader of the region, strengthening the central
government’s control, officials said Friday.
The unanimous decision late Thursday came after Aslan Abashidze bowed to
pressure to step down and flew to Moscow, ending a struggle with Georgian
President Mikhail Saakashvili for control over Ajaria that sparked fears of a
new war in Georgia.
Abashidze, who led Ajaria for 13 years, had been the speaker of its
parliament
but later became its executive leader, a post created for him by the
legislature in the Black Sea region.
“There was a regime here that had far more rights than an autonomous region
should have,” Saakashvili said late Thursday, referring to Ajaria’s autonomous
status within Georgia. “Ajaria was separate from Georgia. It had … its own
armed forces, its own police structure. But those times are over.”
After Abashidze left following two days of public protests, Saakashvili flew
triumphantly to the Ajarian capital of Batumi and called it a step toward
restoring Georgia’s unity.
“While I am the president of Georgia, I will not allow the existence of
several armed forces and ministries of security and internal affairs on the
country’s territory,” he said.
The comment was more provocative than a statement he had made earlier in the
day, when he pledged to try to bring the separatist regions of Abkhazia and
South Ossetia back into the fold through negotiations. The two regions broke
away from central government control in wars in the early 1990s.
Saakashvili has moved quickly to assert authority over Ajaria and pledged
that
legislative elections would be held around mid-June. He said he would
remain in
Batumi for five days, helping to set up and lead a temporary Council to govern
the region until the elections. He said a Batumi native, high-level Georgian
railroad official Levan Vashalomidze, would lead the council.
Despite the efforts to maintain order, fights broke out outside Abashidze’s
former residence Friday when former guards of the regional strongman came to
demand two months’ salary and they were confronted by anti-Abashidze
protesters. Georgian Interior Ministry troops fired into the air to break up
the scuffles, and Deputy Security Minister Gigi Ugulava said authorities would
pay “those who deserve it.”
Saakashvili has made restoring Georgia’s unity a major goal since his
landslide election in January, which came after he led protests that prompted
the resignation of his predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze, in November.
Unlike Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Ajaria did not espouse separatism. But
Abashidze had defied the central government for years, withholding revenues
from Tbilisi’s coffers and firmly suppressing opposition political groups.
Ajaria had its own heavily armed Interior Ministry forces and
Kalashnikov-toting men in civilian dress prowled Batumi’s streets.

6) President Bush Appoints New Ambassador to Armenia

WASHINGTON (Armenpress)–President George W. Bush announced Thursday his
nomination of John Marshall Evans of Virginia as the new US Ambassador to the
Republic of Armenia.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service and a Yale University graduate,
Evans currently serves as Director of the State Department’s Office of Russian
Affairs. He previously served as Director of the Office of Analysis for Russia
and Eurasia in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

7) Conference on Armenian Communities of Iran

UCLA–The fourteenth in the UCLA International Conference series on Historic
Armenian Cities and Provinces will feature the colorful history and culture of
the Armenian communities of Iran from ancient to modern times. The conference,
to be held in Glendale and on the UCLA campus from Friday evening to Sunday
afternoon, May 14-16, will bring together scholars from Armenia, Cyprus,
Germany, Great Britain, Iran, Italy, and various parts of the United States.
The conference is organized by Professor Richard G. Hovannisian, holder of
the
Armenian Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Armenian History at UCLA, and
is co-sponsored by the Armenian Society (Iranahay Miutiun) of Los Angeles and
the UCLA International Institute, GE von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern
Studies, and the Center for European and Russian Studies.
The opening session in Armenian will be held on Friday evening, May 14, from
7:30 to 10:00, in the Glendale Presbyterian Church at the corner of Louise and
Harvard Streets in Glendale and will include illustrated lectures by Armen
Hakhnazarian (Germany and Armenia) on Saint Stepanos and Dzordzor monasteries;
Onnik Hairapetian (Glendale and Mashdotz Colleges) on the Armenians of the
Salmast region; and Gohar Avagian (Historical Archives, Armenia), on the life
and works of Archbishop Melik-Tangian of Tabriz. The Saturday sessions on May
15 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. will be held on the UCLA campus, in Court of
Sciences 50 (Young Hall), and will be conducted in English. The presentations
will focus on the political, cultural and literary, economic, and social
history of the Armenians of Iran or Persia.
Speakers include Richard Hovannisian on the Iranian Armenian community; A.E.
Redgate (Newcastle, England), on Iran and Vaspurakan; Peter Cowe (UCLA) on
Tabriz under the Il-Khans; Hovann Simonian (USC) on Maku in the 15th century;
Thomas Sinclair University of Cyprus) on the silk trade; Gabriella Uluhogian
(Bologna University, Italy), on socio-political life in the 17th-19th
centuries; Vazken Ghougassian (Eastern Prelacy, New York), on Armenian rural
settlements in Iran, 17th-19th centuries; Rubina Peroomian (UCLA), on Iran and
the Armenian Liberation Movement; Houri Berberian (California State
University,
Long Beach), on Armenian Identity during the Persian Constitutional
Revolution;
Rose Marie Cohen (Los Angeles), on the Massacres of Khoi during World War I;
Gayane Hagopian (UCLA) on Raffi’s Stories about Iranian Armenians; Anahid
Keshishian (UCLA), on Hakob Karapents; Bert Vaux (University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee), on the Iranian Armenian Dialect.
The Sunday afternoon sessions on May 16 from 1:30 to 5:30 will be in Armenian
and in English with presentations by Armen Ter Stepanyan (Matenadaran,
Armenia), on Bibliogrpahic Sources on the Persian Armenians; Armen
Hakhnazarian
(Germany and Armenia), on the Gharadagh Armenian communities; Artsvi
Bskhchinyan (Armenia), on Armenians in Iranian Theater and Cinema; Samvel
Stepanian (Glendale), on Economic Life in 19th-20th centuries; Aida Avanessian
(Tehran, Iran), on the Armenian Community of Tehran; and Claudia Mardirossian
(UCLA), and Anny Bakalian (New York University), on Integration of Armenian
Iranians in California. As in all previous conferences, a photographic exhibit
will be mounted by Richard and Anne Elizabeth Elbrecht of Davis, California.
All proceedings are open to the public at no charge. Parking on the UCLA
campus is in Parking Structure 2, entrance from Hilgard Avenue at Westholme.
The conference program may be viewed at and Professor
Hovannisian may be contacted by e-mail at [email protected]

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