CENN – May 10, 2004 Daily Digest {01}

Table of Contact:
1. Become a Member of the “Caucasus Environment Society”
2. BTC Campaigner – Letters re Alleged Torture or Ill-treatment in
3. Environmentalists: BTC Left Communities in the Dust
4. The Devil’s Tears
5. Urgent Appeal to International and Georgian Communities Concerned
With Wildlife Issues
6. U.S. Names Countries Eligible for New Assistance Funds
7. Armenian Group Releases Latest Bedoukian ‘Studies’
8. Arevag: Festival of Armenian Filmmakers
9. Margara Village would Be First to Enjoy Open Border
10. Armenia Raises $5.6 mln from Gold Reserves Sale
11. Smithsonian Advanced Course in Conservation GIS
12. MDF-Training and Consultancy


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Dear Friends,

Following the detention and alleged torture of Ferhat Kaya, the
prominent human rights defender, following his work to protect the
rights of Turkish citizens affected by BP’s UK-funded
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Kurdish Human Rights Project and
Corner House have sent the letter appended below to the UK government
departments which have financed the pipeline.

It would be act of much appreciated solidarity if you could also send
similar letters to your Executive Directors at the World Bank and
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or to your country’s
Export Credit Agency, if it is involved. Letters to the private banks
involved would also appropriate.

For those in the UK, please write to Hilary Benn. Please send your
letter to: [email protected]

Best Wishes

Nicholas Hildyard, The Corner |House
Tel: +44 (0) 1258 473795


Rt. Hon Hilary Benn MP,
Secretary of State for International Development
Department for International Development
Palace Street
London SWI


7 May 2004

Dear Secretary of State,

BTC Campaigner – Alleged torture or ill treatment in Turkey

We are writing to express our gravest concern over the detention and
alleged torture or ill-treatment of a prominent human rights defender
following his work to protect the rights of Turkish citizens affected by
BP’s UK-funded Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. There is strong and
direct evidence of a link between his intimidation and detention and his
work in connection with the pipeline.

It is our understanding that Mr Ferhat Kaya, a former deputy chair of
DEHAP in the central district of Ardahan, had been working to document
the case of an individual whose land was being used for the pipeline
without having been legally expropriated or compensation having been
paid. On 5 May 2004 he informed BOTAS, the company building the pipeline
under contract to BP, of his concerns and he had been promised a meeting
on Monday 10 May 2004. However, he was then arrested and now remains in
detention in Ardahan. Witnesses and relatives yesterday observed blood
on his clothes and deep cuts on his arms and elsewhere-following one day
in detention. According to information obtained by KHRP, a medical
report is consistent with allegations of torture. He was also derided as
a “terrorist” by the court prosecutor.

As you will know, witnesses, human rights and environmental groups
believe this is Mr Kaya’s second detention in connection with his work
to highlight concerns over the pipeline. Last year, he received death
threats prior to meeting with the Italian Export Credit Agency to inform
them about social and environmental concerns associated with the
pipeline. He was later detained. Assurances from Mr. MacShane, the
Foreign Office minister, that Amnesty International had found no
evidence of a connection between this detention and his work in relation
to the BTC pipeline have since been found to be unwarranted: Amnesty
International has not even investigated the case.

Mr. Kaya has been involved for some time in mitigating the impacts of
the BTC project by ensuring that local people obtain the compensation to
which they are entitled and that their rights under the European
Convention on Human Rights are respected. He has assisted 38 villagers
in bringing cases to the European Court of Human Rights complaining of
multiple violations of the ECHR. This also reflects the ongoing failure
of BP to fulfill its legal responsibilities to people affected by the
pipeline and to make good on its pledges that nobody would be
disadvantaged as a result of the project.

We believe that it is incumbent on the British government, as a sponsor
of the BTC pipeline, to ensure that those like Mr Kaya who seek to
improve the project are not victimized for speaking out. BP has
specifically requested that local people help in identifying problems
with the project’s implementation. For this to result in detention and
allegations of torture, as in this case, is not only unacceptable but a
savage indictment of the project and of Turkey’s commitment to human
rights. Turkey is required to achieve the “stability of institutions
guaranteeing democracy, human rights and respect for a protection of
minorities” in order to meet EU accession requirements; its accession
bid is due to be reconsidered in December 2004. Incidents such as the
arrest and alleged torture of Mr Kaya strongly indicate that legislative
reforms aimed at securing human rights in Turkey have failed to be
implemented on the ground.

We urge you to use your best offices to investigate the circumstances of
his detention and alleged torture or ill treatment; to obtain a
guarantee that his human rights are respected; and to press for his
immediate release.

Yours sincerely,


Source: The Messenger, May 10, 2004

Georgian NGO once again reiterate their claim that the construction of
the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipe continues to impose serious social
and environmental impacts on the local communities, this time citing
“violations made by the BP-led BTC Company (BTC Co.) during the
project’s planning period.”

In its most recent report released May 5, 2004 the NGO Green Alternative
and co-authors at the Georgian Young Lawyers Association and the CEE
Bankwatch Network, an environmental watchdog with partners in 12
countries, reveals a series of problems the NGOs identified related to
everything from inadequate food from workers to faulty plastic coating
on the pipe itself.

The report reveals the problems with the project’s land compensation and
acquisition process and violations of the BTC information disclosure
policy. The authors also criticize the involvement of the BTC’s key
international lenders, the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in
the project.

“We presume that the majority of the problems are the outcome of the
violations made by the BTC Co. during the planning period and an
inefficient due diligence process implemented by IFC and EBRD,” the
report states.

Green Alternative member Keti Kvinikadze claims that the number of
people who protest over problems of land compensation increases every
day. The report also claim there is a major gap between “official
disregard fore the problems which ordinary people are experiencing.”

According to another member of Green Alternative Keti Gudjaraidze,
“These people are directly affected and they will have to live side by
side with the pipeline for years.” Ms. Gudjaraidze thinks that the local
population has heard a lot of promises about the benefit they will get
because if the pipeline, which in reality as Green Alternative claims
will stay as mere promises.

According to the watchdog organizations, in the village of Tetritskaro
heavy trucks and machinery have destroyed sewage and water piping
underneath the roads, ruining the supply of safe drinking water and
spreading “infectious diseases throughout the neighborhood.”

One specific area of concern is Kvemo Kartli where monitors cite the
current presidential representative to the region as saying the former
governor and current fugitive Levan Mamaladze corrupted the pipeline’s
land compensation process by granting lad titles along the route to
friends and relatives, something often called “mushroom parcels.”

Director General of the BTC Co., Ed Johnson stated that the land
compensation process is “very transparent,” even in the wake of the
continuous protests of some villages claiming BP took their land without
giving proper compensation.

NGOs and even the Georgian Union of Workers have repeatedly claimed that
Georgian workers on the BTC get smaller salaries and are not provided
with elementary working conditions. According to the report by Green
Alternative, local workers average no more than 225 lari a month a day,
including weekends and holidays in order to reach the “declared GEL
600-700” per month.

GEO of the BTC Co. Michael Townshend commented that the human rights of
the workers along the BTC route are fully protected. Mr. Townshend says
some “minor” problems concerning salaries existed, but cites an
international study when saying, “all workers are treated with respect.”


Red Pepper May 2004

The Devil’s tears
Melissa Jones and Michael Gillard
1 May 2004

In Azerbaijan, oil is known as the Devil’s tears – a curse for the
desperately poor Azeris and a blessing for their autocratic rulers.

Relics of Soviet oil exploitation litter the view on the road going
south from the coastal capital Baku. Nodding donkeys and derricks lie
frozen with rust, encircled by stagnant pools of oil sludge and
seawater. Corroded pipelines criss-cross the flat, arid landscape. Just
out to sea stand ghostly oil platforms.

>>From 2005, new platforms in the Caspian will pump the Devil’s tears
through the world’s biggest oil and gas terminal at Sangachal and into a
1000- mile underground pipeline running west through Georgia to the
Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline will cross nature reserves,
archaeological sites and 1500 watercourses, from small streams in the
Caucasus Mountains to rivers and canals. Its route cuts almost entirely
through an active earthquake zone. Long-standing regional conflicts with
Armenian and Kurdish separatists add to the instability of the project.

It is being built by a BP-led consortium under the intense scrutiny of
international campaigners demanding that the oil giant lives up to
ethical commitments made after major environmental and human rights
scandals in Alaska and Colombia, where it operates two other major

Neither has the geopolitical significance of the BTC pipeline – the
first east-west energy corridor intended to reduce Anglo-American
reliance on OPEC and Middle Eastern oil – been overlooked. In Whitehall,
the pipeline is considered vital to Britain’s energy security as North
Sea oil reserves dwindle.

It is also key to what analysts call the ‘New Great Game’, a
geopolitical struggle between Presidents Bush and Putin for control of
the 15 new republics that emerged from the former Soviet Union in 1991.
Washington sees Azerbaijan and Georgia as bulwarks against Russia and

There was intense political pressure from the US for BP to build this
pipeline. To be compensated for the risk to its well-crafted reputation
BP chief executive Lord Browne told the Financial Times in 1998 there
would be no BTC without “free public money”.

Total construction costs will top $3.6 billion dollars. Seventy per cent
of this is being borrowed from a ‘Lenders Group’ of international
financial institutions and commercial banks, such as the Royal Bank of

Yet none of the banks would have risked their cash without the backing
of the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
(EBRD), political risk insurers and government export credit agencies
such as the UK’s Export Credit and Guarantee Department (ECGD).

The EGCD’s support came last December, when Trade Minister Mike O’Brien
pledged roughly £58m (fifty-eight million pounds) of taxpayer’s money to
underwrite British businesses working on the BTC project.

This, he assured Parliament, was based on “a rigorous assessment of the
risks associated with the project and a thorough review of the
environmental, social and human rights impacts.”

On February 3, BP signed the $2.6 billion loan agreement with the
Lenders Group at an ostentatious ceremony in Baku.

However, the Commons trade and industry select committee is now
investigating whether BP hoodwinked the ECGD by suppressing internal
warnings of a major design fault to secure the loan. Committee members
will also examine whether O’Brien misled Parliament when he claimed the
pipeline, and therefore taxpayers’ money, was safe.

One year before construction started last July, two senior BP managers
on the BTC project were so alarmed at design proposals from London that
they asked Derek Mortimore, a highly respected British pipeline
integrity consultant, to investigate.

Of particular concern was the choice of anti-corrosion coating for the
150,000 welds on the pipeline, one of the most important technical
decisions on the project.

Mortimore’s internal BP reports in August and November 2002, seen by Red
Pepper, were unequivocal. He warned that BP’s choice of a Canadian paint
was “utterly inappropriate to protect the pipeline for its estimated
design life” of 40 years.

BP, he said, would be burying an “environmental time bomb” because in
the cold months the coating would crack leaving the steel pipeline
exposed to corrosion and therefore ruptures as one million barrels of
high-pressured, hot crude was coursing through it daily.

Mortimore also warned that the performance test to choose the best
coating was “seriously flawed”. E. Wood, a British company that lost the
estimated £5 million contract to the Canadian firm went further and
wrote to BP alleging its procurement staff had rigged the test. The oil
company responded by carrying out an internal inquiry that exonerated

BP then dispensed with Mortimore’s services in January 2003. But eleven
months later, with the $2.6 billion loan agreement just weeks from being
signed, the field joint coating cracked, as Mortimore predicted.

Work was secretly stalled over the Christmas period as BP panicked. An
estimated 15,000 field joints were already buried and could no longer be
regarded as safe.

Corrosion experts familiar with the problem say the only acceptable
thing to do is to dig it up and recoat using a different material with
proven adhesion to plastic-coated steel pipelines.

The remedial costs would run into hundreds of millions of pounds and
delay the project considerably, with knock on compensation payments for
the host governments in lost oil revenue.

During a series of secret and tense meetings in Baku and London,
contractors told BP the coating failure was down to them because the oil
company had nominated the Canadian paint as the only material to be used
on the field joints.

BP kept all this from the ECGD and the wider Lenders Group. But when we
exposed it in the Sunday Times on February 15, Mike O’Brien and ECGD
officials declined to set up an inquiry or even send his officials to a
briefing by Mortimore and other corrosion experts.

The minister’s letter to campaigners was grist to the mill of those who
refer to BP as Blair Petroleum. Fantastically, O’Brien said the
technical problems were “routine” and therefore BP had no obligation to
report them under the terms of the loan agreement.

O’Brien also protected his officials at ECGD by claiming an independent
engineering company, Parsons, operating on behalf of the Lenders Group
had “scrutinised and approved” the choice of coating.

Yet Parsons has confirmed to Red Pepper this was not the case. Their
reviewer was not a corrosion expert; he did no quality assurance
exercise; there was no testing of the Canadian paint; nor did BP
disclose to Parsons any background material or the Mortimore reports.

Parsons also confirm BP is a client and the so-called “independent”
review was paid for by the BTC consortium.

The Commons select committee has now received full details and will
cross- examine ECGD officials and Mike O’Brien in early May.

The minister’s position, that companies do not need to report
allegations of fraud or bribery if their own internal investigations
find no evidence of wrongdoing, makes a mockery of the prime minister’s
own commitment in September 2002 to tackling corruption in the
extractive industries.

The Labour-dominated committee could recommend a full independent audit
of the field joint system and refer the procurement fraud allegations to
the Serious Fraud Office. This would bring it into a collision course
with Tony Blair, who is very supportive of BP’s Caspian adventures and
enobled John Browne as a People’s Peer in 2001.

Sources on the BTC project deny BP’s claims that it has cured the
cracking problem. Corrosion experts consulted by Red Pepper confirm
Mortimore’s conclusion that the cracking is an indication of a serious
problem withthe paint’s chemistry and symptomatic of its
inappropriateness for a plastic coated pipeline it can never protect.

E.Wood managing director, Chris McDonnell, who has also written to the
committee, said: “Our view is that individuals within BP were trying to
cover up a decision which was clearly flawed and which we believe was
influenced by an individual who was closely associated with our main

Manana Kochladze

Regional Coordinator for Caucasus
CEE Bankwatch Network

Visiting address: Rustaveli avenue. 1. Entrance I. floors 4
Mailing address: Chavchavadze 62, Tbilisi, Georgia, 380062
Tel: 99532 93 24 03, 99 04 72
Fax: 22 38 74
E-mail: [email protected]

May 7, 2004

Aslan Abashidze, the odious rebellious leader of Georgia’s Adjara
province flees the country and leaves his own exotic and domestic animal
sanctuary to the mercy of fate.

Yesterday (May 6, 2004), Aslan Abashidze left the country in the company
of Igor Ivanov, head of the Russian Security Council who once served as
Russia’s foreign minister.

ADJARA Population: 400,000; overall population of Georgia: 5 million
Depends on income from transited goods, its port shipping about 200,000
barrels of oil a day Has run its own affairs for years, withholding tax
payments from central government in Tbilisi Adjarians are ethnic
Georgians, some of Moslem faith, though the majority are Orthodox
Christian as elsewhere in Georgia.

“Georgians: Aslan has fled! Adjara is free!” The President of Georgia,
Mikael Saakashvili, addressed the nation from his office. Saakashvili,
elected in January 2004 after leading a bloodless revolution (referred
by Georgians as the “Rose Revolution”) to oust veteran leader Eduard
Shevardnadze last year, had vowed to bring Adjara and other unruly
Georgian regions back under central control. Adjara has been a
semi-autonomous republic within Georgia for over a decade. Abashidze, a
Soviet-era politician who had maintained strong links with Russia during
his rule and strongly opposed the western-leaning Saakashvili, had ruled
this Georgian province for 10 years in an extremely autocratic manner
virtually without any challenge, due to the former administration’s weak
policy on regional politics. However, after January 2004, when Mr.
Abashidze appeared on the losing side in the Rose Revolution his regime
eventually collapsed after a month-long bloodless confrontation during
which his heavily armed supporters at one point blew up bridges leading
into Adjara from Georgia proper. The crisis aroused the concern of
Russia, Europe and the US, all of whom consider the Black Sea state of
Georgia to be of key strategic importance. Ahead of his talks with
Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov, Mr Abishidze had been
saying he had “no intention” of quitting Adjara. However, pressure came
to a head on Wednesday (May 5, 2004) when citizens from all over the
small ‘state’ increasingly massed in the streets, even coming down from
the mountains on foot. Then the President declared direct presidential
rule and offered Mr Abishidze safe passage abroad.

Thus Abashidze fled to Russia!

However, prior to this last standoff, and as suspected, he made sure to
take out enormous public misappropriated assets from the country.
Naturally he abandoned solid goods such as fancy villas, houses,
vehicles, and–his private zoo-like animal “sanctuary”.

For years Abashidze, just like his Asian and Latin American
counterparts—other drug barons and local dictators–has been collecting
individual animals of different species of birds and mammals, some of
them rare. He was especially proud of his magnificent birds of prey and
predators that he showed off in an extremely primitive manner. His
official protocol for important official guests almost always included a
visit to this “sanctuary” where the Adjara leader would feed animals in
front of cameras, journalists and guests. Appeals to him to obey the
laws of Georgia that strictly forbid keeping wild animals in private
ownership, or numerous requests to him to act humanely and release local
wild fauna back into their natural habitat, as well as constant
reminders of the requirements of the CITES convention received
absolutely no attention from Mr. Abashidze. Laws in Georgia strictly
forbid keeping wild animals in private ownership and requires their
confiscation and subsequent placement in humane conditions.

Now, as their “owner” has escaped his own “sanctuary” for another, these
animals are left to the mercy of fate and their future is unclear.

NACRES has sent a “crisis relief team” to Batumi, the capital of Adjara,
to assess this situation and provide emergency relief aid to the
animals. NACRES has also contacted the Ministry of Environment of
Georgia and requested Governmental support to define appropriate
emergency action for the animals kept in Abashidze’s zoo.

Such action could include the release of native birds of prey to their
natural habitat, with the aid of NACRES specialists. However, the
situation is more dramatic for large native predators (bears, wolves)
and ungulates. Having been kept for years in enclosures with human
contact, they can no longer be released, and will require permanent and
humane care.

As for exotic species, NACRES is currently contacting representatives of
the CITES Focal Point in Georgia and with the Secretariat of
thisConvention, to undertake proper measures as required by the treaty.

Hereby, NACRES would like to draw attention of international and local
communities to the most urgent of Georgia’s wildlife problems. This
issue is related to a wider one—that of international illegal trade in
animal parts (such as gall bladder, skin/pelts, bear fat and meat) as
well as the common capture and illegal possession of live wild animals
in Georgia, which has been a growing problem all over the country.

NACRES, in partnership with the World Society for the Protection of
Animals (WSPA-UK) and other local environmental groups, has been seeking
solutions to these urgent issues, asking the Government of Georgia to
confiscate bear or wolf cubs kept in chains or cages, to implement a
nation-wide educational program for pubic awareness against this
trafficking. The Ministry of Environment expresses a deep concern about
the issue but has not had the financial means to address it efficiently.

Now with the emergency situation in Adjara, NACRES believes that an
opportunity should be seized: Abashidze’s Zoo can be transformed into a
real sanctuary for captive animals, a facility that has been sorely
lacking in this country.

In the near future (after the return of our rescue team from Adjara and
in consultation with Ministry officials) NACRES will obtain clear
picture regarding the present conditions of the former dictator’s Zoo
and the official position of the central and local Governments.

We will immediately release information on the situation and keep you
updated. NACRES would appreciate your ideas and support at this point,
and will keep in touch with you concerning the most appropriate
solutions that have been found.

Please contact us if you would like to be updated or if you have had
experience and know-how involving similar situations.

Levan Butkhuzi
Head, Governing Board
Regular Mail Address: PO Box 20; 0179 Tbilisi; Georgia (CIS)
Courier Address: 34, Gamrekeli str.; 0186 Tbilisi; Georgia (CIS)
Fax: (+995-32) 537124
Tel: (+995-32) 537125
E-mail: [email protected]


Government Corporation also plans to help other countries qualify

The recently created Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the U.S.
government has named 16 countries eligible to apply for development aid
from an innovative new program.

In a May 6 news release, the MCC said that its board of directors
selected the countries — Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Georgia,
Ghana, Honduras, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique,
Nicaragua, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu — based on their governance,
social investment and economic freedom.

The MCC said it also approved a program to help some other countries
meet eligibility requirements.

The Millennium Challenge Account program announced by President Bush in
2002 is designed to help poor countries spur the economic growth and
attract the investment necessary to further development. Congress has
appropriated $1 billion for the MCC for this fiscal year.
Following is the text of the release:

Millennium Challenge Corporation

May 6, 2004
The Millennium Challenge Corporation Names MCA Eligible Countries

Washington, DC — Today, the Board of Directors of the Millennium
Challenge Corporation (MCC) selected the 16 countries eligible to apply
for Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) assistance in FY04 [fiscal year
2004]. MCC, a newly created government corporation designed to work with
some of the poorest countries in the world, is based on the principle
that aid is most effective when it reinforces sound political, economic,
and social policies that promote economic growth.

“This is a historic day for the Millennium Challenge Corporation,” said
Secretary of State, Colin L. Powell, Chair of the MCC Board. “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.”

The selected countries include: Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde,
Georgia, Ghana, Honduras, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia,
Mozambique, Nicaragua, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu. In making its
determinations, the Board considered both the past and current policy
performance of the candidate countries in the areas of governing justly,
investing in their own people and promoting economic freedom. The Board
also considered trends that indicated policy improvement or slippage.

“Our mission — encouraging and rewarding good policies that produce
sustainable economic growth — holds profound implications for freedom
and security across the globe,” MCC CEO [chief executive officer] Paul
Applegarth said today. “Today’s decision demonstrates the clear
commitment of the U.S. to reducing poverty and human suffering.”

The Board also approved a “Threshold Country” program, which will be
directed toward a limited number of candidate countries that have not
met the requirements for MCA eligibility but demonstrate a significant
commitment to meeting the requirements for eligibility. The Threshold
Country program will provide an added incentive to countries that are
committed to reform, and will be used to assist such countries in making
further progress towards becoming eligible for MCA assistance in future
years. MCC expects to work closely with USAID [U.S. Agency for
International Development] in this effort.

The United States is committed to the MCC as an innovative approach to
delivering foreign aid. Congress has appropriated $1 billion for the MCC
for this fiscal year, and President Bush has requested $2.5 billion for

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: )


Source: World Coin News, May 8, 2004

The Armenian Numismatic Society has published the second volume of Dr.
Paul Z. Bedoukian’s Selected Numismatic Studies.

Bedoukian is considered the foremost authority in the study of Armenian
numismatics. His great knowledge of chemistry, metallurgy and Armenian
history has greatly added to the numismatic field.

The non-profit ANS was founded in 1971 and is the only Armenian
numismatic organization in existence. It publishes a number of books and
journals of Armenian ancient and medieval coins.

For more information on prices and ordering, write to: Armenian
Numismatic Society, Attn: Y.T. Nercessian, 8511 Beverly Park Place, Pico
Rivera, CA 90660, or call (562) 695-0380.


Beirut International Documentary Festival (6th)
Mohamad Hashem
Founder & Manager

113-7222 – Hamra
Beirut – LEBANON
Tel: +961 3 771880
Fax: +961 1 352256

AREVAG. Festival of Armenian Filmmakers
May, 5, 2004

Arevag Film festival, which kicked of on April 26, 2004 in Beryte Hall
on the campus of Saint Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon and closed
on April 30, was received by the audience and the local press by great
enthusiasm and success.

For the first time in the Middle East, a festival was solely dedicated
to Armenian filmmakers. Five filmmakers, who were attending the festival
presented the audience with many of their films, each filmmakers was
given a night and the selection of their films was done by the
filmmakers themselves.

The participating filmmakers were Serge Avedikian (France) Gariugin
Zakoyan (Armenia) Garine Torossian (Canada) Nigol Bezjian (Lebanon) and
Stephane Elmadjian (France).

The audience filled the cinema every night to full capacity and lively
debates and question/answer with the filmmakers followed at the end of
each screening night.

This successful event was organized as a joint venture between
Hamazkayin of Lebanon, Hamazkayin Centeral executive body and Docudays;
the only film festival in the Arab world dedicated to documentary films.

The admittance to the event was free and sponsored Societe General, Audi
and Credit Libanies banks, Libby’s, Haygazian University and AFHIL.

For more details of AREVAG festival, you may visit:


Source: ArmeniaNow reporter, May 7, 2004

Along a 15-kilometer stretch of the Armavir region, a barbed wire fence
and the Araks river separates Armenia from Turkey, with the village of
Margara the last spot on the Armenian side. Villagers think the village
will profit if the border with Tukey is opened.

“See, that is the bridge and that is a Turkish soldier,” says Deputy
Head of Margara village Gharib Tadevosyan, pointing to a frontier guard

He explains that the village Alijan, which can be seen over there, was
once Armenian.

People of Margara grow up accustomed to military-guarded borders.
Villagers have friendly relations with soldiers. The 15 th station of
frontier troops of the Russian Federation is based in Margara.

Until 1994 non-residents of Margara, could enter the village only with
special permits and passes.

“Our girls couldn’t get married, because people who were not residents
of the village couldn’t come to see them,” villager Samvel Mirzoyan
says. “For that reason almost everyone in the village are in-law
relatives to each other.”

There are 400 households and 1100 residents in Margara. This year 24
births have been registered.

“We love our village very much but the life is very passive here. It’s
true, we are people who keep the border but there is nothing interesting
here,” says Tadevosyan.

There is a cultural center in the village, but the roof is almost gone.
There is no kindergarten. There is a school for 240 students, but it has
no gym. Employees of the village government offices have not received
salaries for three years.

Gharib says when lands were distributed, families got 800 square meters
each. He complains that it isn’t enough, compared to what neighboring
villages got. Besides, the land itself is not so rich.

Villager Vachagan Asatryan moved to Margara from Spitak after the
earthquake of 1988.

He says Margara soil is too salty.

“People hardly work the land as the soil isn’t fertile,” Asatryan says.
“During Soviet times people used to add acid to the soil for increasing
its fertility. But now, who cares?”

Mirzoyan says the land has never been fertile, but that the village was
settled because of the river.

“Our grandfathers decided to go along the Araks and settle there.
Fishery was their primary occupation. They were living at the expense of
fishing. But now who will allow us to fish in the Araks?”

Villagers’ privatized lands are located behind the barbed wires within
the border. They can enter their own lands only with special permits.

“They open the fence in the morning at 9 o’clock and in the evening at 7
o’ clock they drive us out. We can’t fully use our day. We can’t work at
nights. But in summer our turn to get water often comes at night,” says
Mirzoyan, who argues that the river should be more accessible.

The village itself is in a depression created by a flood that in 1968
changed the center of the village.

May is always a dangerous month for Margara, when spring floods

Near the border bridge is a half-built construction. Tadevosyan says it
was supposed to have been a tourist camp.

“They say when Breznev was in power they wanted to open the bridge but
probably they didn’t come to agreement and left the works incomplete,”
he says.

Over the past year there have been official speculation on opening the
border with Turkey. Margara would be the first Armenian territory
affected by such a situation. Villagers are in favor of seeing it

“We will be the first to make use of it,” Tadevosyan says. “If they open
the border the village will gain. One of the reasons is that there will
be a lot of new things to do. The trade will be developed, prices for
the lands here will increase and roads will be at last be

Deputy head of Margara village Gharib Tadevosyan. But he is interrupted
by Mirzoyan who says villagers aren’t prepared for the traffic of a
border town. They don’t know how to manage business, run restaurants,
hotels, he argues.

And he tells of the history of other traffic through Margara.

“People used to pass the border and join Kurdish troops in the struggle
against the Turks. We heard it from our grandfathers,” he says. “Those
who were going to escape, told those who stayed in the village, that as
soon as they successfully reach the place they will light fire on the
slopes of Masis and smoke of the fire would mean they have reached the
place without problems. And it happened the way they told.”

Samvel says a prosperous life in the village would prove to the outer
world that Armenia is in good conditions.

“The sound of our school bell can be heard in Turkey. If our lights are
switched off at night our neighbors can clearly see. If the village
lives good it will be good for everyone. After all Margara, in some
measure, is a lock for the country. ”

In Margara storks live in concord with villagers and soldiers. As
villagers say, these birds in these latter days don’t leave the village
even in winters. They are like frontier guards, who are simple dressed
in white.


Source: Interfax, May 7 2004

Armenia raised 3 billion dram (about $5.6 million) in net profit for the
country’s budget from the sale of gold reserves, Central Bank of Armenia
Chairman Tigran Sarkisyan told the press.

Armenia sold its entire gold reserve of 1,396.5 kilograms, estimated at
$17.1 million on October 1 2003 and forming part of the country’s
international reserves, at the end of 2003.

The sale was made in accordance with the international reserve
management strategy and had the approval of the Central Bank of Armenia
board, Sarkisyan said. The Armenian government made transaction through
international dealers when the price of gold topped $400 per troy ounce.

When foreign debt is double the volume of international reserves, there
is no need for a gold reserve because debt payments are made in dollars,
euros or SDR, Sarkisyan said.

Sarkisyan would not say whether the Central Bank would buy gold again if
international prices dropped.

The Finance Ministry reported that foreign debt on January 1 2004
totaled $1.097 billion and international reserves amounted to $512


The Smithsonian Conservation and Research Center is offering the
following advanced GIS and remote sensing course:

Measuring Landcover Change and its Impact on Endangered Species
June 14-18, 2004

This one-week advanced GIS and remote sensing course provides
conservationists with an opportunity to learn how GIS and remote sensing
can be used to assess the conservation status of endangered species.
Participants will be provided with their own desktop computer for all
lab exercises. During the hands-on exercises participants will use the
Internet, ArcView, ArcView Spatial Analyst, ERDAS Imagine, Fragstats,
and other spatial analysis programs. Instructors will lead participants
step-by-step through the process of:

§ conducting a regional conservation assessment using GIS to determine
critical conservation areas for an endangered species;
§ acquiring multi-date satellite imagery to quantify land cover change
and to map the extent of the remaining habitat;
§ using landscape analysis to determine optimal landscape configurations
for conserving the endangered species.

Visit the following web address for more details and registration

Kate Jenks
[email protected]
1500 Remount Road
Front Royal, VA 22630
540-635-6535 (GIS Lab)
540-635-6506 (FAX)


Management for Development Foundation from the Netherlands is a
worldwide operating training and consultancy firm specialised in
capacity building, project management, and the standard EU management
method PCM, Project Cycle Management.

In the period 10 May – 4 June 2004 MDF organises for the 61th time its
internationally reputable Project Management Course in Ede, The
Netherlands. This course is based on the PCM method and offers managers
of developmental organisations, projects or activities everything they
might need in terms of technical management tools, personal skills and
human resources management methods and skills.

Today’s managers and advisors need to facilitate teams and groups to
analyse their situation and to make effective plans for action. From 2 –
10 June MDF offers a course on facilitation skills, also in the
Netherlands. This course improves your personal interaction skills,
provides insight in participative group processes and offers methods and
tools for different categories of participative decision-making events.
This course is designed and conducted in association with Bureau Frank

Especially for clients in South East Europe involved with or interested
in projects or activities funded through one of the EC programmes such
as CARDS, TACIS or PHARE there is a new opportunity to get familiar with
the PCM management method. In close co-operation with Vakakis
International MDF organises two PCM courses in Athens, Greece in the
weeks of 24 May and 31 May. The first one focuses on the planning tool
Logical Framework whereas the second one concentrates more on Monitoring
and Evaluation. Together these courses cover the entire cycle of PCM
application throughout the lifespan of projects.

For more information consult our websites (, )
or contact us on [email protected] and [email protected]

Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN)

Tel: ++995 32 92 39 46
Fax: ++995 32 92 39 47
E-mail: [email protected]