OTTAWA: Assadourian to advise PM on foreign policy

Assadourian to advise PM on foreign policy
By Lynne Cohen

Jewish Tribune
May 20, 2004 – 29 Iyar, 5764

Leaders in the Jewish community reacted cautiously to the announcement
that Sarkis Assadourian is stepping aside after almost 11 years
representing the Liberals in the Ontario riding of Brampton Springdale,
in order to join the Prime Minister’s office as a special advisor
on foreign affairs. The Syrian-born, Armenian MP will be responsible
for Near Eastern and South Caucasus affairs.

“I am delighted to be able to turn to Sarkis Assadourian for expertise
when it comes to matters of trade and foreign relations with the Near
East,” said the Prime Minister in a statement immediately following
the appointment.

Assadourian’s appointment is in exchange for giving up his riding so
that Manitoba-born Ruby Dhalla, a Toronto chiropractor, can run for
the Liberals in his place. Assadourian has been a frequent critic of
Israel in recent years. In 2002 he attempted to introduce a Motion in
the House of Commons calling on fellow MPs to express their support
for what he called “our government’s position at the UN” on Israel. At
the time he was referring to UN Security Council Resolution 1402
which called for the immediate “withdrawal of Israeli troops from
Palestinian cities, including Ramallah.” This resolution was adopted
after a series of Palestinian suicide bombings prompted Israel to
deploy Israeli troops around Yasser Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah.

A spokesman for Assadourian, Daniel Kennedy, said the countries
involved in Assadourian’s new portfolio are Eastern European as well
as Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. “He is not advising on the Middle
East,” said Kennedy.

“Just because the countries under Assadourian’s mandate do not include
those in the Middle East, it does not necessarily follow that his
appointment will have no wider impact,” said Amos Sochaczevski,
National Chair of B’nai Brith Canada’s Institute for International
Affairs. “What happens in the Middle East impacts many different
countries in many different regions, several of which are struggling
with the rising tide of Islamic extremism and terrorism in their
own territories.”

Assadourian hosted a reception recently to provide a representative of
the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem with a platform to explain why
his organization was suing the Israeli government over the construction
of its security fence.

“Our concerns are not limited to international issues,” said
Sochaczevski. “For instance, not only does Assadourian oppose the
construction of a Holocaust museum, he also opposes the construction
of any museum on intolerance that would place emphasis on the Holocaust
as a unique event in history.”

Instead, Assadourian has been promoting a private members bill that
would see the creation of an exhibit at the Museum of Civilization
located in Gatineau, across the river from Parliament Hill, that
would commemorate in a generic sense all “crimes against humanity
perpetrated during the 20th century.”

“My position has been from day one that we can’t have one museum for
every minority,” explained Assadourian at the time.

“A museum… is not a doughnut shop that you open on every street
corner. It has to be inclusive…”

Assadourian’s appointment comes at a time when Canadian Jews are
beginning to ask themselves where exactly the Government stands
on issues of concern to the Jewish community. The day before the
announcement, Canada supported a resolution at the United Nations
that for all intents and purposes denied Israel any a priori rights
in the disputed territories. This is a move that contradicts the
government’s own guidelines on Middle East policy, which emphasize the
importance of not pre-judging the outcome of final negotiations and
of reaching a negotiated agreement between the parties. Canada’s vote
also went against Resolution 242 which it has always endorsed. That
resolution recognizes that modifications to the so-called Green Line
are necessary.

“Our Government must make up its mind on the fundamental issue,”
added Sochaczevski… “Either Canada supports Israel as the only free
and democratic country in the region, or it doesn’t.”

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS