ASBAREZ ONLINE [05-12-2004]


1) Uncompromising Opposition Stance Hinders Success of Upcoming Dialogue
2) Just a Scuffle
3) ARF Meets with Iranian Ambassador
4) Turkey Must Shed Its Genocide Burden Says EU’s Gharton
5) ARS Seminar in Bulgaria

1) Uncompromising Opposition Stance Hinders Success of Upcoming Dialogue

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s government coalition partners put forth a
four-point agenda for its upcoming dialogue with the opposition.
The three political parties of the coalition suggested that the two sides try
to reach an agreement on reforming Armenia’s constitution; formulating
legislation to fully correspond to international criteria; working out models
for active participation of opposition in the fight against corruption; and
cooperate in complying with recent resolutions of the Parliamentary
Assembly of
the Council of Europe (PACE). In a joint statement, the parliamentary leaders
of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Orinats Yerkir, and Republican
parties said these issues must be at the heart of the dialogue strongly
encouraged by the PACE and the United States.
The opposition Artarutyun (Justice) bloc and the National Unity Party (AMK)
have called for discussions on “ways of overcoming the political crisis in
Armenia resulting from the 2003 elections,” which they believe were rigged by
the authorities. The coalition leaders said they will agree to include the
issue on the agenda of the talks if the word “crisis” is changed to
The first official negotiations are scheduled for Thursday.
Regardless of the outcome of the talks, however, opposition leaders said
rallies in Yerevan would resume on Friday, and would continue to campaign for
Kocharian’s resignation
The uncompromising stance led one of the top coalition figures, deputy
parliament speaker Tigran Torosian, to seriously question the opposition’s
commitment to the dialogue. “I don’t think the negotiations will last too
and I am not particularly optimistic about their results,” Torosian said.

2) Just a Scuffle

TBILISI (Combined Sources)–Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said that
the skirmish between ethnic Georgians and Armenians of the Tsalka region on
9 is not an ethnic conflict, and should not be over dramatized. “Let’s not
the situation tragic. It’s not an ethnic conflict, rather a fight between
Georgians and Armenians. But we won’t tolerate disorder and we don’t intend to
be drawn into provocation,” he told journalists on Tuesday.
He noted that while Georgia’s enemies have retreated since the quelling of
recent Ajarian upheaval, “some enemies of Georgia” seek to involve the country
in a new conflict. “We won’t allow anyone to blackmail us and will respond
appropriately to such tactics.”
Stressing that Georgia’s neighbors are peaceful, he said that both the
Presidents of Armenia and Ukraine applauded the peaceful settlement of the
Ajaria conflict.
Though officials from the Armenian Embassy in Georgia have not issued a
statement on the incident, they did indicate the issue lies within the
jurisdiction of Georgian internal affairs, excluding Armenia’s active
involvement in the matter. A statement was to be released late Wednesday.
Georgians living in the Tsalka region meanwhile rallied in front of the State
Chancellery in Tbilisi on Tuesday, demanding to meet with President
to discuss disarmament of the Armenian population in Tsalka. The rally
participants said that almost all the Armenian families keep firearms.
There is a pending threat that the frequent conflicts in the Kveda Kartli
region may turn into the armed clashes. Notably, what began as an argument
among soccer fans at the Tsalka stadium on May 9 grew into a brawl, with
reported injured.
After the incident, the Georgian government deployed regional police and
interior forces.

3) ARF Meets with Iranian Ambassador

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau’s Vahan
Hovhannisian, Supreme Body’s representative Armen Rustamian, and member Levon
Mkrtchian, met with the Iranian Ambassador to Armenia Mohammad Farhad Koleini
on Wednesday at the Simon Vratsian Center in Yerevan. They discussed
Armenian-Iranian relations, Armenia’s political developments, and regional
Addressing the recent political tensions in Armenia, Koleini praised the ARF
for its efforts to resolve the matter politically with its calls for
The sides confirmed that Armenian-Iranian relations are a key in
the stability of the region.

4) Turkey Must Shed Its Genocide Burden Says EU’s Gharton

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–Speaking at a roundtable discussion on Wednesday, European
Parliament (EP) member Per Gharton said that Turkey must take responsibility
for the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
“Turkey should get rid of that burden. This year, the European Union
reaffirmed its decision recognizing the Genocide, and calls on Turkey to do
same,” Gharton said during the roundtable “Wider Europe: New Neighborhood:
are Armenia’s Expectations?”
He said that it is senseless for Turkey to deny the Genocide, pointing to the
decision of Istanbul courts immediately after the Genocide to sentence to
the perpetrators and Turkish officials responsible. “Where would Germany be
hadn’t it admitted the Holocaust against the Jews,” he asked.
He stressed that though Turkey “improves,” it fails to meet EU’s demands “to
recognize the Armenian Genocide and to cease its blockade against Armenia to
become an EU member.”
He said that the EU will not accept a state with local or regional conflicts.
“Cyprus was a bad precedent and we won’t make the same mistake again,” Gharton
He said that while Armenia is Europeanized politically and is a member of the
Council of Europe, it must still tackle issues tied to democracy, the
environment, and settlement of confrontations.
Also attending the conference was National Assembly Vice-speaker Tigran
Torosian, who noted that Armenian authorities are determined to integrate into
Europe. “Armenia has no alternative,” he stated.

5) ARS Seminar in Bulgaria

Representatives of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) European chapters will
gather in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, May 21-22, for a Seminar on Voluntary
Organizations in the 21st Century.
Organized by the ARS Central Executive, the seminar will address modernity
the Armenian women, as well broader topics on Armenia and the Diaspora.
Lectures include, Status of Armenian Organizations in a Newly Emerging Europe
by Hilda Choboyan, Non-Governmental Organizations by Helen Merdjanian, and
Javakhk by Garine Hovhanessian.

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