ASBAREZ ONLINE [05-20-2004]


1) Turkey’s Interior Ministry Rejects Draft Constitution for Armenian
2) Russian Defense Chief Arrives in Armenia
3) Georgian Leader Visits Turkey, Urges Closer Ties
4) Armenia Turns to Cyprus as Bridge to EU

1) Turkey’s Interior Ministry Rejects Draft Constitution for Armenian

ANKARA (Marmara)–Turkey’s interior ministry opposed a new constitution
by the country’s foreign ministry for the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey,
reported Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper.
Citing the Treaty of Lausanne, the interior ministry said the rights foreseen
by the constitution exceed those of the treaty, and would succeed in making
Armenians of Turkey a privileged minority, thus setting an unfavorable
precedent for other minorities.
To date, the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey has not had a constitution, and
Patriarchal elections have always been carried out based on the decision of
Turkey’s Council of Ministers. The government of Turkey does not officially
recognize the Patriarchate.
It appears that the foreign ministry drafted the constitution in response to
numerous appeals to correct the situation. Though the details of the document
are not public, the interior ministry said the function of the
Partriarchate is
solely religious, and in no way does it possess political or executive
The interior ministry also reminded that the Treaty of Lausanne makes no
mention of the Armenian Patriarchate, and that its elections have been guided
in accordance with the 1961 bylaws of Turkey’s Council of Ministers, saying
that the trend must continue.
What is most disturbing about the Cumhuriyet article is the interior
ministry’s proposal on defrocking the Patriarch. The paper reports that
the foreign ministry draft constitution stipulates that only the religious
assembly has the authority to remove the patriarch from his position, the
interior ministry grants the authority to Turkey’s Council of Ministers,
recommending the body amend its constitution to grant itself this power.
“If it
becomes understood that the elected Patriarch does not possess the expected
qualifications, or abandons any one of the qualifications at any point, as
confirmed by the courts, then the Council of Ministers may defrock the
Patriarch, on the recommendation of the interior ministry,” writes Cumhuriyet.

2) Russian Defense Chief Arrives in Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov arrived in Yerevan on
Thursday to hold talks with Armenian leaders and attend a meeting of his
counterparts from the Commonwealth of Independent States.
No further Russian-Armenian military agreements are expected to be signed
during the two-day visit, which will underscore close military ties between
two countries. Ivanov said that military cooperation is “developing
“We are going to discuss the whole spectrum of Russian-Armenian
interaction in
areas of defense, security, and military-technical cooperation,” he told
reporters on his arrival in the Armenian capital. He said he will also discuss
regional issues such as the Karabagh conflict.
Asked whether Moscow plans further arms deliveries to Armenia, Ivanov
“We discuss such issues regularly within the framework of the Collective
Security Treaty organization. All relevant political decisions have already
been taken. The deliveries of weapons, military hardware, and other military
production [to Armenia and other organization members] are being carried
out at
domestic Russian prices.”
Visiting Yerevan last November, Ivanov assured that Russia will continue to
supply the Armenian military with new weaponry “on privileged terms,” and
to modernize its military base in Armenia. No details have been given by the
two governments since then.
Ivanov revealed later in the day that the Armenian Defense Ministry has
purchased two Russian-made Ilyushin-72 transport planes within the Collective
Security Treaty framework. He said they landed at Yerevan airport shortly
his arrival, but Armenian and Russian officials declined to disclose how much
the aircrafts cost Armenia.
The military alliance has been the linchpin of Armenia’s defense strategy
since its independence. Yerevan has tried to balance it in recent years with
its growing participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.
The Armenian government will host an annual meeting of the defense ministers
of the CIS countries on Friday.

3) Georgian Leader Visits Turkey, Urges Closer Ties

ANKARA (Reuters/Zaman)–Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili urged Turkish
investors on Thursday to help rebuild his country’s battered economy,
that of the formerly breakaway Black Sea region of Ajaria which borders

Saakashvili took charge of Ajaria earlier this month pledging to entrench
democracy there with new elections after forcing its rebellious leader Aslan
Abashidze to flee. “The resolution of the Ajaria problem brings a chance for
closer relations. New possibilities are being created for improving our
economic relations and border trade,” Saakashvili said at the start of a
two-day official visit to Turkey.
“We expect Turkey and Turkish investors to contribute to Ajaria’s development
and to the Georgian economy. What is important for us is to improve economic
Turkey and its NATO ally, the United States, have strongly backed the
Saakashvili, fearing that prolonged instability in Georgia could imperil an
pipeline under construction across its territory.
The pipeline, which is being built by a BP BPL-led consortium, will pump
from Azerbaijan’s Caspian oilfields across Georgia to Turkey’s Mediterranean
port of Ceyhan. It is due to start operating from May 2005.
Georgia said recently it expected to receive revenues of about $50 million a
year from the pipeline.
Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer reaffirmed Ankara’s support for
territorial integrity and praised the 37-year-old, American-educated
Saakashvili’s handling of the Ajaria crisis, which ended peacefully.
Sezer said Turkey hoped Georgia would be able to resolve its disputes with
other rebellious regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in the same peaceful
Georgian officials say winning back these two provinces will prove much
because, unlike Ajaria, they have fought ethnic separatist wars with the
authorities in Tbilisi.
Georgia’s young leader will hold a series of meetings in Istanbul and Ankara
during his 3-day visit to Turkey. Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer
Saakasvili earlier on Thursday. The Georgian President will also meet with
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul during his visit. Saakashvili will be unable to
meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan because Erdogan who will
be in Romania during the duration of Saakasvili’s visit.

4) Armenia Turns to Cyprus as Bridge to EU

NICOSIA (dpa)–Cypriot Parliament President Dimitris Christofias, said that
country can act as a bridge between the European Union and its neighbors,
including Armenia, after meeting with Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, who is
on a working visit to the island.
The latest developments in Cyprus were discussed, as well as the prospect of
enhanced bilateral cooperation. “Friendly relations, development of economic
and cultural exchanges, when accompanied by practical steps, become more
solid,” Christofias said.
Noting the absence of political differences between the two countries,
Christofias said that they will continue to cooperate in international
organizations, along with an increased focus on economic development.
Meanwhile, Oskanian also met with his Cyprus counterpart George Iacovou,
on the meeting’s agenda were Cyprus’ accession to the EU, the problems in the
Caucasus, and the Karabagh issue. Oskanian said, “We see Cyprus as a friendly
country, as an insider in the EU, and we can rely on its help to further
advance our integration processes with European structures and particularly
with the EU.”
Iacovou referred to the presence of an active economic, social, and political
Armenian community in Cyprus.
Oskanian said the Cypriot minister also explained the UN unification plan,
which envisaged joining Turkish Cypriots with Greek Cypriots, and the reasons
the Greek Cypriot community rejected it in an April 24 referendum.
“We also talked about other regional matters, particularly Armenia’s
with its neighbors, Turkey in particular,” he noted, adding that “as a goal
before us, we have the normalization of ties between Armenia and Turkey.”

5) Communique



On behalf of the 32nd Representative Assembly of the Western Prelacy of the
Armenian Apostolic Church of America, we are pleased to announce that the
Representative Assembly unanimously re-elected His Eminence Arch. Moushegh
Mardirossian as the Prelate of the Western Prelacy, and also unanimously
elected the new members of the Religious and the Executive Councils of the
The Representative Assembly presided by His Eminence Arch. Moushegh
Mardirossian was convened Friday through Saturday, May 14-15, at the Holy
Martyrs Armenian Apostolic Church “Avedissian” Hall in Encino.
The Assembly reviewed the activities of the Prelate and both Councils of the
Prelacy and discussed the plans for the forthcoming year in diverse activities
of the Prelacy, beginning with spiritual guidance, the expansion and
organization of the parishes, as well as the educational mission of the
and the schools functioning under its auspices.
At the conclusion of the first day’s agenda items, His Eminence Archbishop
Moushegh Mardirossian was unanimously re-elected as the Prelate of the Western
Prelacy for a third four-year term.
The Assembly resolved that the forthcoming year should be a period of
rejuvenation of the Parishes, so that not only should the current
activities be
revitalized, but should also be extended to new areas. For that purpose, the
Prelacy should prepare plans to establish new churches, through which the
spiritual services should extend to many more believers in the Armenian
Community on the West Coast. Furthermore, the Assembly stressed plans to
revitalize and expand the activities of youth organizations under the auspices
of our churches, because the new generation has spiritual needs that can be
fulfilled through the expansion of Bible Studies sessions and the creation of
an atmosphere in which our younger generations practice their belonging to our
churches directly.
The Assembly was content about the fulfillment of the first part of the new
Prelacy Building. The renovation plans will hopefully reach its final stage by
the next Representative Assembly meeting next year.
After a detailed discussion of the plans for the fiscal year 2004-2005, the
Assembly unanimously elected the new Religious and Executive Councils.
The members of the Religious Council are: Very Rev. Vrouyr Demirjian, Rev.
Fathers Vicken Vassilian, Hrant Yeretzian, Vazken Atmajian, Vahan Gosdanian,
Razmig Khatchadourian, Nareg Pehlivanian, Khoren Babochian, and Ardag
The members of the Executive Council are: Armand Keosian, Esq., Arsen
Danielian, Esq., Hagop Yedalian, Jack Kahvedjian, Peklar Pilavdjian, Hagop Der
Megerdichian, Vahan Bezdikian, Dr. Sahag Arslanian, Hrayr Balian, Garbis
Bezdjian, and Boghos Sassounian.
The unanimity observed at the election of the Prelate and the Religious and
Executive Councils is the latest expression of solidarity of the Prelacy
Parishes with respect to the mission of the Western Prelacy and all units
functioning under its auspices. The Representative Assembly strongly believes
that the Prelate and the both Councils will successfully carry on the tasks
entrusted to them.

The Divan of the 32nd Representative Assembly

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