ASBAREZ ONLINE [05-21-2004]

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05/21/2004
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1) ARF Aharonian Gomideh Banquet Raises $300,000 for Planned Armenian
Center in
Glendale
2) Vahan Hovhannisian Addresses Legality of Boycotting Parliament
3) Turkey to Build Military Airfield in Georgia
4) CIS Defense Chiefs Meet in Yerevan
5) Karabagh President Greets ANCA Head Hachikian
6) Random Ramblings and the Rambling Rabble Rouser Who Recites Them
7) Notes from another Place

1) ARF Aharonian Gomideh Banquet Raises $300,000 for Planned Armenian
Center in
Glendale

DR. ALBER KARAMANOUKIAN DONATES $250,000 IN MEMORY OF HIS PARENTS

GLENDALE–Based on the premise that an Armenian center is essential in nearly
all sizable Armenian-American communities, a center is usually planned for
construction, usually alongside the Armenian church, in order to fulfill the
needs of local Armenian organizations and the community at-large.
In the evening of Saturday, May 15, for that very purpose, a banquet took
place in the hall of the Glendale “Ararat” Homenetmen chapter’s new center,
organized by the area’s ARF “Aharonian” gomideh.
The event’s benefactor was Dr. Alber Karamanoukian, whose princely
quarter-million-dollar contribution will go toward the building of the
Armenian
center on the property adjoining Glendale’s St. Asdvadzadzin church. In total,
the night’s event raised some $300,000 for that worthy goal.
Banquet guests and attendees included US Representative Adam Schiff, Glendale
Mayor Bob Yousefian, Glendale City Council member Rafi Manoukian, benefactor
Alber Karamanoukian, ARF Western US Central Committee member Vahe Bozoyan,
Glendale Unified School Board President Greg Krikorian, Glendale Community
College Board of Trustees members Dr. Armine Hacopian and Ara Najarian, State
Senator Jack Scott’s representative Vahik Gourjian, Rev. Ardag Demirjian, and
past and present member of church boards of trustees, Armenian and
non-Armenian
members of the business community, and members of the Armenian community–all
told, more than 400 people.
The event’s emcee, Vahe Peroomian, in his opening remarks pointed out that
purpose of the gathering was to place the plan to build a new Armenian center
on more firm foundations. He then introduced the honored guests and officiated
over the evening’s program after dinner was served.
The first to speak was Mayor Yousefian, who said the community had
gathered to
realize a beautiful dream. He pointed out that Glendale has a population of
more than 100,000 Armenians, who need such a center for their community life.
He called on those present to be generous with their donations.
Peroomian announced that the ARF gomideh had received written congratulations
from Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, Congressman Schiff, and
State Representative Dario Frommer.
On behalf of the gomideh, Lena Bozoyan presented a plaque to Patrik
Chrakhjian
for his dedicated work on behalf of the Armenian Center project.
Next to address the attendees was Harout Manoukian, the representative of the
ARF “Aharonian” gomideh. He said that it is an honor to address the community
on such an important occasion, and especially in the center of an active
organization such as Homenetmen, because it is here that the foundations of an
Armenian Center are being laid.
Manoukian said that now, more than ever, such a densely Armenian-populated
place as Glendale needs a new haven for our youth organizations, the Armenian
Relief Society and its Saturday school, Hamazkayin with its choral and dance
groups, the Sunday school of the St. Asdvadzadzin church, and the local
chapter
of the Armenian National Committee.
“As a political organization, we have a responsibility not only to ensure
that
our rank-and-file remain vigilant and effective, but also to defend the
interests and rights of the Armenian community and carry out our civic duty
toward Glendale,” Manoukian stressed.
“Thanks to the Armenian National Committee, we have taken on leadership
responsibilities in this community and will continue to do so, through the
joint efforts of not only our members, but large numbers of supporters.”
He stressed the importance of making the Glendale-Ghapan sister city
project a
living, breathing effort that accomplishes real results and leads to more such
undertakings and the development of schools, villages, and towns in Armenia.
In the event’s biggest surprise, Manoukian then announced the night’s chief
benefactor.
“The benefactor of our Armenian Center is a person imbued with Armenia and
‘Armenianness’,” Manoukian said. “He is a skilled physician, a businessman…he
is our ‘Dr. K,’ who is beloved by all and who since the tragic earthquake in
Armenia has on every occasion participated in efforts to realize projects both
in Armenia and locally.”
Manoukian next announced the benefactor’s generous gift of $250,000, made in
memory of his parents, Krikor and Mariam Karamanoukian.
In this festive atmosphere, Cong. Schiff also spoke to the attendees,
congratulating them and wishing them continued success.
Rev. Vazken Atmajian transmitted the blessings of the Prelate, Archbishop
Moushegh Mardirossian, and announced that the Archbishop had just been elected
by the National Representative Assembly for another four-year term as Prelate.
Speaking at the end of the official portion of the night’s ceremonies,
benefactor Alber Karamanoukian expressed gratitude toward his nation and
homeland for educating him and making possible his success, and therefore his
contribution to the Armenian Center.
He honored the memory of his parents, noting that they had bequeathed their
home to the nation, to be used as an Armenian school.
Dr. Karamanoukian called on those present, “Open wide your purse strings for
the sake of our youth, so that this center planned for our new generation may
become reality.”
On this auspicious occasion, the gomideh had issued a booklet clearly
explaining the timely purpose and essential need for an Armenian Center.

2) Vahan Hovhannisian Addresses Legality of Boycotting Parliament

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–According to National Assembly (NA) regulations,
opposition members of Armenia’s parliament or factions opposing the work of
the
body must boycott individual votes on issues rather than entire sessions,
clarified NA Vice Speaker and Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau
member Vahan Hovhannisian. Their absence is otherwise considered to be in bad
faith, explained Hovhannisian, speaking at the National Press Club.
Hovhannisian did not rule out the possibility of depriving the absent MPs of
mandates. “Of course, application of these sanctions depends on the
decision of
the NA Chairman and the entire parliament…I do not know whether the issue will
be placed on the NA’s agenda; if so, it will be done within the framework of
the law,” he said.
“The right to boycott is the right of each MP and political faction,”
stressed
Hovhannissian, “but the methods displayed by the opposition today make it
impossible to call it a parliamentary boycott because the parliamentary
opposition is struggling in the street, not in the parliament.”

3) Turkey to Build Military Airfield in Georgia

TBILISI (Russia Journal Daily)–Turkey will construct a military airfield in
the Georgian city of Marneuli, located in the eastern part of the country. The
facility, which will be equipped with day and night vision systems, will take
nearly two years for full implementation. A corresponding agreement was
achieved during an official visit of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to
Turkey.
Georgian Defense Minister Gela Bezhuashvili told Imedi television that the
sides had agreed on implementing two more projects with Turkey’s
participation.
According to the minister, Turkey will train servicemen of the Georgian
Defense
Ministry’s Kodzhori special battalion of the 11th brigade, as well as create a
military facility for special training.
As reported earlier, Turkey has already invested $6 million in upgrading a
Georgian military base in Vaziani, where Russian military men were deployed
earlier.

4) CIS Defense Chiefs Meet in Yerevan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Senior defense officials from the Commonwealth of
Independent
States (CIS) met in Yerevan on Friday to discuss strengthening military ties
among the twelve former Soviet republics.
According to Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov, who heads the CIS
Council
of Defense Ministers, the two-hour meeting marked “yet another positive
step to
develop military cooperation” across the former Soviet Union. “We considered
the pressing issues of improving multilateral military and military-technical
cooperation,” he told a news conference.
Ivanov said the Council made a number of “important decisions” that will lead
to the creation of a CIS peace-keeping force, the setting up of a system of
interstate military communication, and improved safety of military aircraft
flights. He said the participants also approved plans for the strengthening of
a single air defense system covering much of the Soviet Union.
It remained unclear, however, whether the arrangements will encompass all CIS
countries. Six of them, including Armenia, are part of the Russian-dominated
Collective Security Treaty (CST) organization and are bound by a formal
commitment to defend each other in the event of a military aggression. The
treaty signatories regularly hold joint military exercises and receive Russian
military supplies on privileged terms.
But the other CIS countries are more wary of close military ties with Moscow.
Some of them, including neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan, as well as
Ukraine,
have openly expressed their desire to join NATO. Ukraine was represented at
the
meeting by its military attaché in Yerevan, while Uzbekistan sent a liaison
officer representing its military in Moscow.
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan avoided any participation in the Yerevan meeting,
with Baku attributing its boycott to the unresolved conflict over Mountainous
Karabagh. “We don’t knock on the enemy’s door,” a spokeswoman for the Azeri
Defense Ministry was quoted as saying.

5) Karabagh President Greets ANCA Head Hachikian

STEPANAKERT–The president of Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR) Arkady
Ghukasian received Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman
Kenneth Hachikian on Friday, along with ARF Australia Central Committee
representative Berj Mamjian, and his spouse. Mountainous Karabagh ARF central
committee representative Grigori Hayrapetian also attended the meeting.
Ghukasian spoke of the value of ANCA’s efforts in advancing Armenian
issues in
the international arena, but stressed the necessity of more active Diaspora
participation in the process of gaining international recognition of MKR, and
suggested that Diaspora political organizations coordinate efforts with MKR’s
foreign affairs bodies.
Hachikian assured President Ghukasian that the ANCA, in fact, attaches great
importance to the final and complete political regulation of the Mountainous
Karabagh issue and pledged that the ANCA will continue to actively support the
protection of human rights and promote the socio-economic development of MKR.

6) Random Ramblings and the Rambling Rabble Rouser Who Recites Them

BY SKEPTIK SINIKIAN

Since I began writing this column, many readers have suggested that I digress
from my usual political commentary and address issues that affect Armenians in
the United States and at large. I’ve received recommendations to write about
the cult of materialism that pervades Armenian culture in the Diaspora, the
state of our youth, the state of our adults, and of course the ubiquitous
issue
of Armenians dating non-Armenians amongst many others. Now, I have my opinion
on these issues but I’m not sure if writing rambling articles about the
demerits or virtues of Armenians listening to Arabic and Turkish music at
Armenian functions is going to change the minds of anyone out there. I’ve
learned that most of us are opinionated creatures–myself included. And I
don’t
feel comfortable speaking about certain issues without having enough knowledge
about them. The philosopher Socrates remarked that “The only true wisdom is in
knowing you know nothing.” As such, we need to continuously ask questions to
acquire knowledge and a better understanding of society and the world we live
in. So this week, I wish to pose some questions to which perhaps some of you
may have the answers. If you do, I’d love to hear them. Let’s start off light
and leave the heavy stuff for the end.

• Why is it that every time I finish reading an issue of Asbarez, I end up
looking like I just wrestled a West Virginia coal miner? Someone told me that
the Asbarez has no more or less ink than any other newspaper, so I put it to
the test. I read four different newspapers from cover to cover to compare the
results. I suppose it’s a trade off. In none of the other newspapers I read
did I find as much news about issues that affect the Armenian community, but
after I was done my hands were covered in so much black ink that I look like
one of the chimney sweeps from Mary Poppins.

• Why is that every April 24, Armenian youth feel the urge to drape their
cars
in the tri-color flag and drive down streets playing loud Armenian music as if
they’re at a World Cup soccer match? Our parents and grandparents didn’t march
through hundreds of miles of desert sand so their descendants could act like
soccer hooligans. It seems strange that Armenian parents who are notorious for
their strictness and discipline can’t seem to keep their own kids in check on
the most solemn day in our culture.

• Why do the same Armenians that close their establishments on April 24th to
commemorate the Armenian Genocide also sell Turkish products? I also would
like
to know why some Armenians are obsessed with “made in Turkey” products. No
where else in the world outside of Turkey and other Turkic states are Turkish
products held in such high regard as in Armenian grocery stores or on Armenian
dinner tables. My favorite excuse was someone who told me that they will not
stop buying Turkish products because some of the products are manufactured by
Armenians in Turkey. They went on to explain to me that by boycotting Turkish
products they would be hurting Armenian business located in Turkey who are
just
trying to make a living and that was against their Armenian principles. I
suppose the next time I’m picking up a jar of pickled red peppers I’ll have to
keep an eye out for the label that says “Made in Turkey by Boghos Boghosian
who
has four kids and is barely making ends meet.” Ridiculous!

• Ok, one final thing that I’m confused by and maybe you can help me
understand this. Last week, Americans witnessed the horrific beheading of
young
American Nicholas Berg by a group of presumably Arabic militant Islamic
fundamentalists. Speaking on the South Lawn of the White House, President Bush
commented that “The actions of the terrorists who executed this man remind us
of the nature of the few people who want to stop the advance of freedom in
Iraq. Their intention is to shake our will. Their intention is to shake our
confidence. Yet, by their actions, they remind us of how desperately parts of
the world need free societies and peaceful societies. And we will complete our
mission. We will complete our task.” My question is the following (and I’m
going to devote an entire column to this in the coming weeks). Why is the
beheading of this one innocent person such a tragedy and the beheading of
thousands upon thousands of innocent Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks by the
Turkish authorities between 1915-1923 a debatable topic for the President?

That’s it for this week. I’m going to spend the time between now and next
week
pondering these mysteries. Hopefully, next week we’ll have some answers. Until
then, don’t stop asking questions and seeking answers.

Skeptik Sinikian does not take any responsibility if the above column
confused
anyone and apologizes for digressing from his usual rants on random topics. He
promises to behave next week and write something more sensible and less
controversial. He can be reached at [email protected]

7) Notes from Another Place

BY ALEX SARDAR

I write this week’s column from Los Angeles; ironically, I will recount an
experience I had in what seems to be a land far away, yet extremely close when
I stand in the middle of the Glendale Galleria and look around at my
compatriots–and all this not for the obvious reasons.
On a visit to Karabagh a few weekends ago, I discovered truth. This truth
came
in the form of Shoghig–a ray–and not a small one, as the name might suggest.
Shoghig was the home that four strangers visiting the monastery of Gandzasar,
in the heart of Karabagh, were looking for to make sure that the stories of
war
and peace, the stories of sacrifice and survival, and the stories of renewal
and resilience all had an ending–very American of us, if you will.
The strangers spoke to Shoghig at length, while she cooked tea and coffee,
made them a comfortable place to sit, and sent the youngest of her sons to buy
a cake. A cake that came pre-packaged with sweet chocolate icing and a bitter
taste of poverty.
And so it goes, the story of Shoghig–the happy ending that was to be.
Shoghig and her husband, along with their three sons, Hovsep, Hriar, and
Haik,
were the idealists who moved from Yerevan, a relatively comfortable life, to
this remote site with the promise of a house, some land, and a teaching job
for
Shoghig to practice her craft in German and Russian. And they took this. I
asked Shoghig why, and she said that she needed her sons to be raised in a
good
environment, and so, the American in me said, and war torn mine fields are
that? I didn’t understand.
Some facts about Shoghig’s life:
• Shoghig teaches at two schools. She crosses a forest each weekday morning
to get to a village school to teach 230 kids. She crosses that forest knowing
that wolves may be her adversaries, so she’s prepared to fight.
• Shoghig teaches then at another school a bit further. She has 15 students
at this school. She walks her two job route–a combined commute time of 1.5
hours each day.
• She has a plot of land in front of her house. The practical and naïve
Americans visiting her that day looked in vain for farming equipment–the
plow,
the shovels, and the rest. We didn’t see, so we asked. She pulled out two
sharpened rocks, and said those to be the plows–and her knees the imaginary
mules that pulled or rather pushed the plow. The small plot of land Shoghig
had
plowed on her hands and knees and it was ready for giving birth to potatoes.
• Shoghig’s eldest son was in the army. The next eldest, a brilliant
student, was ready to go, while the third son, a young and happy teenager, was
still playing football.
• She had been forced to sell her cow and its calf in the winter to pay for
outstanding obligations, so there were no animals to speak of.
So, the four strangers sat around a wooden table, a stove cooking some
home-made warmth, and ate the cake of sweet chocolate and bitter poverty, and
added a taste of cheese and bread, with berry preserves.
Shoghig didn’t ask for anything. The strangers didn’t offer anything. But,
the
strangers felt embarrassed, because Shoghig had instead given them a gift.
She had offered in her rugged hands, with her golden smile, the chance for
the
strangers to have a happy ending, a Hollywood ending, to go on their way
thinking that there was a purpose for it all. And so we did. The strangers
walked down a hill once more, got into a mini-van, quietly sobbing our
happiness–or was it our shame, or disappointment with our own failure that
Shoghig considered the happy ending. We went on to our lives, thinking that we
could help Shoghig by ordering farming equipment–desperately seeking our
happy
ending.
Yesterday, in a supermarket in Glendale, I overheard an Armenian mother and
son arguing first over the size of the cake they should buy, and then the
conversation carried into the color of the car the son had just received as a
gift–a white or black sports vehicle–and the son wasn’t sure if it was the
right color.
So, there was a reason for it all, I thought to myself, thinking of Shoghig,
her scraped knees, her chapped palms and finger tips, all accented by her big
beautiful golden smile.

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