ASBAREZ Online [10-18-2004]


1) European Armenian Federation Starts First Convention
2) Yeshiva Student Apologizes to Archbishop for Spitting
3) Georgia, Azerbaijan Link Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline
4) Armenian Team Solid at 36th Chess Olympiad

1) European Armenian Federation Starts First Convention

BRUSSELS (Combined Sources)–The two-day Convention of European Armenians
officially commenced on October 18 at the European Parliament, Brussels.
Located in the very heart of the European district, the Parliament is the main
institution of the Union.
Organized by the European Armenian Federation, the first ever convention is
designed as a forum for all organizations and political, economic, cultural,
and religious groups to share ideas and concerns on topics of importance to
Armenian communities across Europe including Armenian culture and identity in
Europe, EU-Armenia relations, and the stakes involved in European Union
European citizens of Armenian descent currently number more than two million,
stemming from three large waves of immigration that resulted from the genocide
perpetrated by Ottoman Turkey (1915), war in the middle-east (1975), and the
fall of the USSR (1991). Though well integrated in the economic, social, and
cultural life of their new countries, they have kept their identity and
interest in Armenian issues.
As the 21st century dawns, Armenia and the Armenians are confronted with new
expectations, new hopes, but also with new dangers. With this in mind, the
conference will address the challenges Armenia faces in a changing
international environment, its strategies for success, as well as the European
diaspora’s role in assisting Armenia in this regard.
Speakers include: Alexis Govciyan, President of “Europe de la Mémoire”
of Remembrance); Jules Mardirossian, Chairman of the Armenian Studies
Documentation, and Information Center in France; Marie Anne Isler-Béguin,
Chairwoman of the EU-South Caucasus Delegation; Vahan Zanoyan, International
expert on energetic issues, and CEO of Petroleum Finance Corporation; Mourad
Papazian, Chairman of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Western Europe,
among others.
“With this first European Convention, we are not aiming to establish any
superstructure that would replace the various organizations dealing with
Armenian issues in Europe. Rather, we aim to create a framework for free
expression that will enable the shared positions and opinions of the European
communities to emerge,” said Hilda Tchoboian, chairwoman of the European
Armenian Federation.
Within the prestigious setting of the European parliament, the European
Armenians will be able, for the first time, to share their hopes and concerns
with the Union’s political decision-makers.

2) Yeshiva Student Apologizes to Archbishop for Spitting

JERUSALEM (Haaretz)–A yeshiva student who spat at the Armenian archbishop in
Israel and at a 17th-century cross during last week’s procession marking the
Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem’s Old City has met with heads of the
Armenian community and apologized for his actions, police said Sunday.
The student, Natan Zvi Rosenthal, explained that he was raised to see
Christianity as idol worship, which is forbidden by the Torah. Rosenthal’s
rabbis from the Har Hamor Yeshiva in Jerusalem–who, along with his father,
were present at the meeting–said they regretted the incident, and that they
educate their students to be courteous to others. The rabbis said Rosenthal
the first of their students to be involved in such an incident.
Har Hamor is considered an elite yeshiva, one highly esteemed among the
nationalist ultra-Orthodox population.
The Armenian archbishop, Nourhan Manougian, said he and his coreligionists
accept the apology and that their religion commands them to forgive Rosenthal.
The police spokesman said the apology will not affect its decision on whether
Rosenthal should be indicted for spitting at the procession.
The meeting took place last Thursday at the police station in the Old City,
but police did not publicize it until Sunday, when the police commander in
charge of holy sites, Chief Superintendent Shlomo Ra’anan, reported it to the
Knesset Interior and Environment Committee.
The committee was holding an emergency meeting to discuss the harassment of
Christian clergymen in Jerusalem, which had been reported in Haaretz.
Participants in the meeting, including Christian clergymen and
from ministries and the Jerusalem Municipality, confirmed that the problem was
widespread and that incidents of harassment were not generally reported to the
Ra’anan said police have received only three complaints in the last few years
on the issue, saying “no one expects us to have a police officer protecting
every priest.”
But the harassment continues. A few days ago, Stars of David were
spray-painted on the entrance to the Monastery of the Cross, not far from the
Knesset. The Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral, located near the
Jerusalem police headquarters in the Russian Compound, has suffered similar
In addition, officials at a church located near several yeshivas complained
that yeshiva students were watching them through binoculars and making
offensive gestures when they passed by. Churches located near Jewish areas in
Mount Zion, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and in Mea She’arim complained
that neighbors had thrown garbage into their yards.
Interior and Environment Committee chairman MK Yuri Stern (National Union)
said these incidents are unacceptable and stem from ignorance and stupidity.
Stern, who heads the Knesset lobby for advancement of relations with Christian
communities, said the content and the tone of the way in which Christianity is
mentioned in schools must be changed.
The committee decided to turn to Education Minister Limor Livnat to establish
a forum for Jewish and Christian clergymen, and called on police to intensify
their watch on Christian sites.

3) Georgia, Azerbaijan Link Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline

BEUK KASIK, Azerbaijan (Reuters)–Azeri and Georgian presidents linked
parts of
a 1 million barrels per day Baku-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC) on Saturday despite a
new postponement in construction of its Georgian section.
The $3.6 billion BP-led pipeline will deliver oil from the BP-operated
Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields in the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean port
of Ceyhan.
The pipeline, which crosses Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, is almost ready
and due to be finished in March, with the first tanker expected to load in the
second half of 2005.
The current delay in the construction of the Georgian part will not affect
first loading date, BTC Chief Executive Michael Townshend said.
“The full completion of the section is postponed by several months, to maybe
March 2005, because of a number of delays in Georgia,” Townshend told
“Such moments are natural for the fulfillment of a project of an
scale, but it will in no way affect our plans to load the first tanker with
Azeri oil in the second half of 2005. On the whole, the construction of the
Baku-Ceyhan pipeline will be completed in the first half of 2005.”
In July, construction of the Georgian part of the pipeline was halted for two
weeks for environmental review by the Georgian government.
Once considered a stillborn project, the US-backed pipeline is designed to
producers of the oil-rich Caspian Sea reach international markets without
through Russia.
The BTC will pump around 200,000 bpd in 2005, 600,000 bpd in 2006 and hit
design capacity of 1 million bpd in 2008-9.
Besides BP, Baku-Ceyhan participants include Norway’s Statoil , Azeri state
oil company SOCAR, US Unocal and Japan’s Itochu .
BP-Azerbaijan President David Woodward told Reuters that the pipeline would
work for at least 20 years and would become profitable in 2013-2014.
Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli extractable reserves are estimated at 5.4 billion
barrels of oil. The bloc can be worked on until 2024.
SOCAR President Natik Iliyev told the ceremony that total Caspian Sea
amounted to 20 billion barrels of oil and 640 trillion cubic feet of gas,
making the region the world’s 10th biggest by energy reserves.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who became president of the
impoverished state last year after a ‘velvet’ revolution, said the pipeline
become another link in the Georgian-Azeri relations.
“This project will not solve all Georgia’s problems, of course, but it will
allow it to be successfully integrated into the world community,” Saakashvili
But a citizen of Georgia’s Khaletdin-mualim village, located on the border
with Azerbaijan, where the pipeline was linked, said his hopes for the project
had been dashed.
“We did not get any money from the pipeline crossing our village,” said the
man, who declined to be named.
“Like before, we have serious problems with electricity, gas and we lost all
hope that our life will become better.”
But an inhabitant of an Azeri village of Beuk Kasik, Elmetdin Memedov,
said he
was happy to get compensation for the pipeline crossing his plot of land.

4) Armenian Team Solid at 36th Chess Olympiad

CALVIA–After four rounds of competition at the 36th Chess Olympiad, Armenia’s
national chess team (ranked 4th) tied with Bosnia Herzegovina (2-2) in round
four, and beat its Estonian, Mongolian, and Uzbek rivals in the first three
rounds, to hold 6th place. Ukraine was leading after the third round of
competitions that will continue until October 31 in Majorca, Spain.
Unlike the men, the Armenian women have not been performing successfully;
one victory was garnered, by Elena Danelyan, after the third round, placing
Armenian women’s team at 28th.


Dear Editor:

Some Republican Armenians are trying to convince us that the economic
of the Bush administration were beneficial to Armenian Americans. I would like
to argue that the Bush administration was perfect for rich Americans,
rich Armenian Americans, and it was damaging for the rest of us.
During 2000, the Federal Government was experiencing a significant budget
surplus of $236 billion. After Bush entered the White house, in 2001, the
surplus went down to $127 billion. During 2002, the surplus was transformed
into a deficit of $158 billion. During 2003, the deficit almost doubled to
billion; finally in 2004, the deficit ballooned to $440 billion.
How can we explain this drastic, rapid, and unprecedented shift from
significant amount of surplus to a huge deficit?
First, President Bush emphasizes that the 2001 recession caused the deficit.
But President Bush himself says that the duration of the 2001 recession was
shortMarch to December of 2001and was mild; therefore, it could not have had a
major impact. It could have some effect during 2001 and 2002, but not during
the next two years.
Second, the war in Afghanistan and especially in Iraq caused the military
expenditure to increase. In 2004 it reached almost $470 billion. Our military
expenditure is almost equal to the military expenditure of the rest of the
world combined.
Third, and the most important cause of the increase of the deficit is the
sharp reduction of government tax revenuesmainly from corporations and the
wealthy, caused by two reductions in taxesfirst, during 2001, and then during
President Bush argues that 111 million Americans received a tax cut. That is
true; however, the vast majority of the benefit went to the people with an
annual income of more than $300,000or the richest 5%. Most families received a
tax reduction of less than $800, while the richest 1% with an income of more
than $1,000,000 received on average a tax cut of $80,000 each.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, which is supervised by the
Republican Congress, $270 billion of the $440 billion budget deficit of 2004
was caused by the reduction in tax revenues. President Bush does not mention
this aspect of the tax cut.
The reduction of income taxes during 2003 was significant, because for the
first time in our history, our government reduced taxes during a war. During
previous wars taxes were increased, with the logic that when soldiers die on
the battlefields, the rest of the population, at home, should at least bear a
part of the burden of the war and pay higher taxes. While our soldiers were
dying during 2003, at home the rich families were enjoying a significant
reduction of taxes.
The Bush administration justifies the tax cut, saying it would stimulate the
economy and create jobs. Until now, however, the tax reduction for the rich is
not creating the expected results; we are, instead, experiencing huge budget
President Bush emphasizes that the economy created 1.9 million jobs during
past year. This is true; he does not mention, however, that since he came to
the office in January 2001 until now, the economy lost more than 600,000 jobs.
There are fewer employed people today than in the beginning of 2001even though
there are more people living in the country. No other president has had a
similar record for the past 70 years.
It is true that during the past four years, the productivity of labor has
increased; this has not, however, generated higher wages; corporate profits
have increased as a result.
Historically, when labor productivity has increased, workers shared the
benefit of that increased productivity, and wages went up. But
of weak labor unions, employers do not feel pressure to share the benefits of
an increase in labor productivity with their employees.
It is true that since 2002 the economy and the average income, which includes
wages, profits, interest and rent, have grown. During this period, however,
wages and salaries adjusted for inflation hardly increased, which implies that
the rising average income is not the result of higher wages. It was rather the
result of rising profitsspecifically profits of large corporations, which went
up significantly.
Meanwhile, according to Census Bureau, the poverty rate increased during
2002, and 2003. In 2003, it reached 12.5% of population. Also during 2003,
number of people without health insurance increased from 43.6 million to 45
Thus, the benefits of the growing economy, rising income, and increasing
productivity were going mainly to the rich and primarily to major shareholders
of large corporations. One indication of this is that during the 2003
season, expensive stores did very well, while sales at low end retail chains
were weak.
Following a conservative ideology, President Bush is trying to reduce
government revenues in order to justify reduction in social programs such as
social security and Medicare. When the government is experiencing a budget
surplus, it is difficult to justify cuts in social programs, education, and
health care.
However, when there is a budget deficit, the government can rationalize cuts
in social programs, education, and social security, saying it could they could
not afford them.
While the Bush administration started with a significant budget surplus, they
quickly turned the surplus into a deficit, and then tried to argue that the
government could not afford to provide funding for education, health care,
Social Security, and Medicare. Public college tuitions were raised, and health
care benefits and social programs were cut; there is even suggestion of
privatizing Social Security.
Meanwhile, the huge budget deficits created by the Bush administration are
causing our national debt to increase rapidlyand while the rich enjoy tax cuts
today, causing the deficit to increase further, our children and we will
end up
paying this debt.
Clearly the richest 5 percent of the population are benefiting from Bush’s
economic policies while the rest of us are suffering. Most Armenians Americans
are part of that 95 percent of the population and not the richest 5 percent.
Therefore, most Armenian Americans are also suffering from President Bush’s
economic policies.

Ara Khanjian

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