ASBAREZ Online [10-20-2004]


1) Armenian Political Parties Issue Joint Statement on Presidential Elections
2) Unprecedented European Armenian Convention Ends, Issues Declaration
3) European Greens Support Turkish EU Bid
4) Western Prelacy Board of Regents for Prelacy Armenian School Appointed
5) Armenian, Georgian Presidents to Meet in Georgia
6) Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian in Italy

1) Armenian Political Parties Issue Joint Statement on Presidential Elections

On October 19, The Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Armenian
Democratic-Liberal Party, and the Social-Democratic Hunchak Party issued the
following appeal to the Armenian community in the United States to cast their
vote for Presidential candidate John Kerry:

An Appeal to American-Armenians

The US presidential elections will take place on November 2. The two main
candidates, President George W. Bush and US Senator John Kerry, are waging a
vigorous campaign for the people’s votes. So far, according to observers, the
ratings of the two candidates are extremely close; each vote will, therefore,
carry significance.
On November 2, the American people will have their decisive say–including
American-Armenians, who will go to the polls conscious of their civic duty.
Accordingly, we appeal to our people to vote for Senator John Kerry, because
he has espoused pro-Armenian positions on issues that American-Armenians
consider vital.
As a Senator, John Kerry has been constant in adopting positions in favor of
the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, increases in US aid to Armenia,
and a
just resolution to the Mountainous Karabagh problem. Moreover, he has always
had an open-door policy toward American-Armenians and has been responsive to
our needs and requests. John Kerry’s efforts within the Senate are proof
positive of his pro-Armenian and pro-Armenia policies.
Under the current circumstances, American-Armenians will play a crucial role
in the upcoming presidential elections, because every vote counts. On November
2, let us go to the polls, en masse, to cast our votes in favor of Senator

Armenian Revolutionary Federation
Central Committees of the Western and Eastern United States

Armenian Democratic-Liberal Party
Regional Executives of the Western and Eastern United States

Social-Democratic Hunchak Party

2) Unprecedented European Armenian Convention Ends, Issues Declaration

BRUSSELS–The first Convention of European Armenians closed on Tuesday with
adoption of a final declaration affirming its support for fundamental European
values, the need for the increased promotion of Armenian identity within
Europe, further integration of Armenia into the European family of nations,
strong opposition to Turkey’s candidacy for membership in the European Union.
The more than two hundred and fifty delegates to the European Armenian
Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) Convention unanimously affirmed
these points. The declaration will be sent to the twenty-five member states of
the European Union.
Tuesday’s program opened with a panel on The challenges of the enlargement
process, moderated by Phillipe Kalfayan, the Deputy Secretary General of the
International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH). In a sweeping introduction to
this topic, Kalfayan touched on the security, religious, and cultural
dimensions to Turkey’s candidacy, as well as the impact of internal Turkish
policy on its relations with European institutions.
The first speaker, noted historian and the Rector of the Catholic University
of Louvain, Prof. Bernard Coulie, alluding to the reservoir of historical
understanding of Armenia’s longstanding relations with Europe, discussed the
prospects for Armenia and Armenian diaspora drawing closer to the European
He noted with certainty that Armenia–as a member or close neighbor, will
either be in or on the border with the European Union. The Armenian community
of Europe, he explained, will become a vital catalyst in bringing Armenia and
Europe closer together.
The second speaker, Chairman of the Armenian Liberal Democratic (Ramgavar)
Party Jean Varoujan Sirapian, point by point spelled out why Turkey’s
acceptance into the European Union would contradict the spirit of the Union’s
founding, and would ultimately undermine the interests and values of the vital
institution. He sharply criticized recent reports pointing out Turkey’s many
failures, nonetheless still recommending opening talks on membership. He
announced the publication of a report by the Chobanian Institute that makes
case against Turkey’s acceptance into the EU.
The next speaker, the Vice-President of the Socialist Group in the European
Parliament Harlem Desir, stressed the that though Turkey must be held
accountable for meeting EU criteria, once these have been met, Turkey could,
nevertheless, rightfully be considered for membership. He stressed his efforts
and the work of his Party in pressing Turkey to recognize the Armenian
and noted his regret that the EU did not formally set Armenian genocide
recognition as a precondition for membership.
Turkey must do what Germany and France have done, Desir stressed, and come to
terms with their history. The EU, he noted, should use Turkey’s interest in
membership as leverage to secure continued reforms.
In a spirited and compelling presentation, the next speaker, Frank Biancheri,
analyzed the practical prospects for Turkey’s acceptance into the EU.
Biancheri, the Chairman of the think tank TIESweb, argued that for a myriad of
domestic and international reasons, Turkey’s membership is highly unrealistic
during the next twenty years. “The fact is,” he said, “that the forces against
Turkey’s membership have set forth arguments that have resonance across
while pro-Turkey elements have been limited to parts of ruling European elite.
Given the likelihood of referendums on Turkey’s acceptance, the chances for
approval are very low.” He argued, instead, for a Privileged Partnership
relationship as a realistic alternative.
The final speaker on the panel, Charles Papazian, representing the Western
Europe branch of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, argued that acceptance
into the EU would run counter to European values and public opinion across the
He outlined the basis for this opposition, on issues ranging from genocide
denial, blockades, human rights, treatment of minorities, the continued
occupation of Cyprus, and the role of religion in Turkish society. He stressed
the growing gap on this issue between governing European elites and the broad
cross section of popular opinion. In closing, he discussed ARF’s advocacy and
grassroots efforts in Brussels and throughout Europe in opposing Turkey’s
membership to culminate in a demonstration outside of the European Commission
building on December 17.
The especially spirited question and answer period, which lasted nearly two
hours, raised issues on the lowering of EU standards for Turkey, the role of
public opinion on Turkey’s candidacy, and the sincerity of pronouncements by
elements of Turkey’s governing elite concerning the EU. Charles Tannock, MEP,
(Christian Democrat, UK), criticized the moral double standard being
applied to
Turkey, and warned of the large costs of taking Turkey into the Union and
stressed that serious attention should be devoted to the issues of fundamental
cultural differences, and the role of Islam in Turkey. He predicted that the
top-driven agenda of getting Turkey into the EU will come to a halt as
referendums are held on this issue.
Following the question and answer session, Hilda Tchoboian, the
Chairperson of
the EAFJD, read the Declaration of the Convention, which was approved
unanimously by acclamation.
In his closing remarks, ARF Bureau member and the Chairman of the Armenian
National Committee international coordinating body Garo Armenian, praised this
historic beginning and noted the progress made by Europe’s Armenian community
in emerging as a political force on the European stage. He stressed the
of the EAFJD in developing a Europe-wide consensus, and organizing focused and
effective advocacy in the key European capitals. He closed his comments by
noting for all in attendance that the real work for Europe’s increasingly
vibrant Armenian community lies ahead.
Following the formal program, Hilda Tchoboian and EAFJD Executive Director
Laurent Leylekian held a press conference for the several dozen print and
broadcast journalists at the Convention.

3) European Greens Support Turkish EU Bid

(AFP/DW)–During a three-day parliamentary group meeting in Istanbul, Europe’s
Greens have come out in support for Turkey’s EU bid and criticized proposed
national referendums on its membership.
Europe’s Greens, once Turkey’s most vocal critics and now the staunchest
supporters of its EU membership, began a three-day parliamentary group meeting
in Istanbul on Tuesday by airing strong criticism against any plans to hold
national referendums on whether Ankara should join the bloc.
“We are against holding referendums in one country about another country,”
Greens group president Daniel Cohn-Bendit said. “There are seven million Turks
living in Europe, so the real question in the referendum will be, ‘Do you like
Turks–do you like Muslims?'”
He singled out President Jacques Chirac, criticizing his proposal to amend
French constitution to allow referendums on future EU members as “foolish” and
“How can a democratic president, even Chirac, say what will happen ‘in 10
years’ time?” Cohn-Bendit asked at a press conference at the opening of the
meeting. “Are they going to have referendums on the memberships of Romania,
Bulgaria, Bosnia? The French will go crazy,” he said. “This is ridiculous.
Don’t waste our time with what will happen in 10 years.”
Cohn-Bendit was flanked at the press conference by co-chair Monica
Frassoni of
Italy, Dutchman Joost Logendijk, and Germany’s Cem Özdemir, both of the
EU-Turkey joint parliamentary committee.


Cohn-Bendit urged Turkey to accept the fact that it is different from other
candidate countries and that a special negotiating process is needed to allow
it into the EU. A generally favorable European Commission report on Oct. 6
advises EU leaders to agree at a Dec. 17 summit in Brussels to launch
membership talks with Turkey.
“When you say, ‘We want equal treatment,’ you do not mean it,” Cohn-Bendit
said. “Turkey is not Malta, it is not Romania, it is not Bulgaria. It is a big
country, it is a proud country, and its entry into the EU will be an important


He said the Greens had arrived in Turkey as “critical friends” in hopes that
many issues that remain to be ironed out–the situation of the Kurds and other
minorities, women’s rights, the Armenian massacres–could be “openly discussed
among friends.”
“We must have uncomfortable discussions on, for example, Cyprus and the role
of the army,” Frassoni said, adding: “The process of building a European
democracy is not finished.”
The Greens support Turkey’s EU membership, the Italian MEP said, but so does
Italy’s conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi–“his reasons are not
same as ours,” she added.
“What is the Greens’ message to Turkey?” asked Özdemir, who is of Turkish
origin. “The message is that we are here and not somewhere else. If Turkey is
today at another point than where it was several years ago, it is also because
of civil society, not only because of politicians,” he said.


Another message from the Greens to Turkey’s politicians is “don’t panic,”
Logendijk said. He added the Commission report contained elements Turkey and
the Greens both disagree with, such as the open-ended nature of the talks and
mention of permanent derogations concerning this country, such as barring its
citizens from free circulation in Europe.
“But,” he said, “don’t lose your focus; don’t lose sight of the main point:
[membership] negotiations should begin next year.”
The meeting of the joint Greens/European Free Alliance group next goes into a
series of panel conferences covering aspects of Turkey-EU ties. Panelists
include German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, his Turkish counterpart,
Abdullah Gül, Kurdish activist Leyla Zana, and Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk.

4) Western Prelacy Board of Regents for Prelacy Armenian School Appointed

His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and the Executive Council
announced on October 18, appointments to the Board of Regents of Western
Prelacy Armenian Schools.
The Prelate and the Executive Council met with newly appointed members Dr.
Roubina Peroomian, Dr. Armine Hacopian, Dr. Ida Karayan, Dr. Vartkes
Avo Keshishian, Mher Der Ohanessian, Vahe Hovaguimian and Chris Keossian, JD,
to discuss the affairs and plans for Prelacy schools. At the end of
discussions, the Board of Regents held its first working session and formed
executive body: Dr. Roubina Peroomian, Chairperson; Dr. Armine Hacopian,
Vice-chairperson; Vahe Hovaguimian, Secretary; Avo Keshishian, Treasurer.

5) Armenian, Georgian Presidents to Meet in Georgia

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–President Robert Kocharian will visit Georgia on October
22 for an official three-day visit. The welcoming ceremony will be held at
Bagratashen village on the Armenian-Georgian border, after which Kocharian
meet with his counterpart Mikhail Saakashvili in the capital city Tbilisi.
Kocharian’s visit also includes meetings with parliament chairwoman Nino
Burjanadze, prime minister Zurab Zhvania, as well as the head of the Georgian
Orthodox Church, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II. He will conclude his trip by
meeting with members of the local Armenian community.

6) Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian in Italy

ROME (Armenpress)–Foreign Minister Oskanian arrived in Italy on October
18, to
mark the third official visit of an Armenian Foreign Minister to Italy since
In a meeting with his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini, the ministers
discussed a wide range of bilateral and international issues, taking into
consideration the prospects of developing relations. They specifically
addressed Armenia’s economic development, and Italy’s knowledge of small and
medium enterprises, as well as the tourism industry.
They also spoke of expanding cultural relations as well as those concerning
health care, and education.
In the course of their political discussions, they addressed Armenia’s
integration into Europe within the framework of EU’s New Neighborhood Policy,
as well as Armenia’s and Italy’s cooperation within international
They also thoroughly covered urgent international policy issues, developments
in the South Caucasus, the Mountainous Karabagh conflict, and
Oskanian also visited The Vatican and met with Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo,
Vatican secretary for relations with states.
In 1998, the two countries signed documents to encourage mutual protection of
capital investments, and consultation between their foreign services. During
his second visit to Italy in June 2002, Oskanian signed an inter-governmental
treaty on taxation.

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From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress