ASBAREZ ONLINE [06-02-2004]


1) Council to Tackle Corruption in Armenia
2) Vermont Becomes 37th State to Recognize Armenian Genocide
3) Georgia, Russia at Odds over South Ossetia
4) ARS Marks Children’s Day in Javakhk
5) UCLA Conference on Armenians in Iran Marks another Milestone

1) Council to Tackle Corruption in Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The formation of a special commission to oversee the
implementation of a government program to tackle rampant corruption in
was announced by President Robert Kocharian on Wednesday.
The body, formally named the Council on Fighting Corruption, will be
headed by
Prime Minister Andranik Margarian and includes Justice Minister David
Harutiunian, Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian, and Central Bank Chairman
Tigran Sarkisian.
The commission will coordinate the implementation of the government’s
anti-corruption program drawn up by a team of government experts last
Funded by the World Bank, the three-year program contains legislative
that would complicate endemic bribery, nepotism, and other corrupt practices.
Kocharian’s special anti-corruption adviser, Bagrat Yesayan warned last year
that corruption in Armenia “has reached a point where it threatens our
Member of the ruling coalition government, the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation, of which Yesayan is a member, had for months been pushing for the
creation of a body to deal with the problem.

2) Vermont Becomes 37th State to Recognize Armenian Genocide

Governor James H. Douglas declares April 24, 2004, ‘Armenian Martyrs Day’ in

MONTPELIER (ANC VT)–Vermont Governor James H. Douglas issued a proclamation
last week on the 89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, specifically
marking April 24, 2004 “Armenian Martyrs Day,” bringing the total number of
states to have properly recognized this crime against humanity to 37.
“I’m sure I speak not only for the Vermont Armenian community, but all
Armenian in thanking Governor Douglas for honoring the memory of the
victims of
this terrible crime against humanity,” said ANC Vermont activist Kohar Der
Simonian. “We trust that this strong statement from the Governor will be
acknowledged by the US Congress in its deliberation of the pending resolution
on the Genocide Convention.”
In the months leading up to the proclamation, ANC Vermont members and
activists, including Massachusetts State Republican Committeeman Bob Semonian,
worked closely with the Governor’s office, which was highly responsive to the
community’s concerns. Semonian spoke extensively to the Republican Governor
during the National Governors Association conference held in Washington, DC in
March 2004. He has since worked with local ANC activists in the effort to
secure Armenian Genocide proclamations from a series of states across the
The proclamation notes, “since 1915, April 24th of each year has been
imprinted in the memory of the Armenian people worldwide, for it was then that
the mass genocide of the Armenian people began in the Ottoman Turkish Empire.”
It goes on to cite the importance of marking this tragedy, stating that
“recognition of the 89th anniversary of this genocide is crucial to guarding
against the repetition of future genocide and educating people about the
atrocities connected to these horrific events.”
On the federal level, Senators Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) and James M. Jeffords
(I-VT) are currently cosponsors of the Senate Genocide Resolution (S.Res.164),
which commemorates the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the UN
Genocide Convention. 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. The
corresponding House measure (H.Res.193), currently has 110 cosponsors and was
unanimously carried by the House Judiciary Committee in May, 2003.

3) Georgia, Russia at Odds over South Ossetia

(Civil.GE/Itar-Tass)–Tbilisi and Moscow exchanged strongly worded statements
after the Georgian central authorities staged a show of force in the Ossetian
conflict zone on May 31, marking rising tensions in Georgia’s breakaway South
Ossetian Republic.
Russia warned that Tbilisi’s “provocative steps” might lead “to extremely
negative consequences” in the conflict zone. In a statement issued on June 1,
the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Georgia’s central government would be
held responsible in the event of further deterioration of the situation and
“bloodshed” in the region.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow’s concerns were triggered by the
sending of Georgian troops into the conflict zone on May 31. The Georgian
authorities justified the action, saying police checkpoints were set up in the
area to help fight drug smuggling in the region.
Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania on Wednesday slammed Russia saying that
“the issue concerns the territory of Georgia and nobody can prevent the
Georgian authorities from establishing order throughout the country.”
The Russian State Duma, meanwhile, issued a warning to the Georgia’s
leadership on Wednesday, and expressed alarm over what they described as the
emergence of an explosive situation in the immediate proximity to the Russian
state border.
This situation, the State Duma said, “poses a threat to the security of many
Russian citizens resident in the area of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict.”
The Russian lawmakers said Russia has the right and is obliged to take every
action possible under the Constitution and the UN charter to protect their
lives, health, and property.
While expressing support for Georgia’s “struggle against cross-border crime,”
they emphasized that “the need for such struggle cannot serve as an excuse for
actions fraught with the risk of undermining the already strained situation
the full loss of confidence between the sides.”
“The introduction of commando units and troops of the Georgian Interior
Ministry to South Ossetian territory on May 31 can be regarded in no way other
than a show of force,” Russian legislators said.

4) ARS Marks Children’s Day in Javakhk

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–Students of the mostly Armenian populated region of Javakhk
in Georgia received prizes for their entries in the “I am Armenian” contest,
sponsored by the Javakhk branch of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS).
The grand prize went to secondary school student from Gandza Vahe
who was awarded the prize on International Children’s Day celebrated on
June 1.

Parents and children praised the ARS at the awards ceremony for the society’s
various activities in the region.
Marking Children’s Day in Armenia, the ARS Mgro chapter and the Haybusak
University Student Council, donated books, stationary, clothing and toys to
students of the boarding school for children with speech disabilities. “Such
acts of charity are crucial for children who feel a need for caring and
attention,” said school Principal Varduhi Kheboyan in thanking the donors.

5) UCLA Conference on Armenians in Iran Marks another Milestone

LOS ANGELES–The fourteenth in a series of international conferences
devoted to
historical Armenian cities and provinces, the conference on the Armenian
communities of Iran was held on May 14-16. Sponsored by the Armenian
Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Armenian history at the University of
California in Los Angeles, and organized by the holder of the chair, Professor
Richard Hovannisian, the successful conference had a turnout of more than
The previous conference in this series, held last November, focused entirely
on the community of New Julfa in Iran on the occasion of the 400th anniversary
of its founding.
The opening session on May 14 in the Glendale Presbyterian Church included
lectures in Armenian on Saint Stepanos and Dzordzor monasteries, the Armenians
of the Salmast region, and the life and works of Archbishop Melik-Tangian of
The Saturday sessions on May 15 at the UCLA campus, included presentations
that focused on the political, cultural, literary, economic, and social
of the Armenians of Iran or Persia.
Sunday afternoon, May 16, included sessions in both Armenian and English,
about the Gharadagh Armenian communities, the pioneering role of the Armenians
in Iranian theater and cinema, and integration of Armenian Iranians in
As in all previous conferences, an exhibit had been prepared by Richard and
Anne Elbrecht, with the assistance of Setareh Mahdavi. The participants also
enjoyed the hospitality of the Armenian Society of Los Angeles on Friday night
and of Mr. and Mrs. Hacop and Hilda Baghdasarian of the Armenian Educational
Foundation on Saturday night.
With the curtains closing on this conference,
Professor Richard Hovannisian, the tireless driving force behind the series,
announced the next chapter to be unveiled. The fifteenth conference,
devoted to
the Armenians in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, will be held on November 6-7,
2004. It is a most timely event that will surely attract a large gathering of
interested scholars and listeners.

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From: Baghdasarian