ASBAREZ ONLINE [10-25-2004]


1) Javakhk Armenians Deliver Strong Message to Council of Europe
2) Turkey Must Recognize Cyprus before Joining EU, Says British Minister
3) Presidents Discuss Economic and Political Cooperation; Weapons Scare at
Local Music Hall
4) Heads of Oriental Orthodox Churches Sign Common Declaration in Cairo
5) Zoo Cries Foul after Armenia Bound Elephant Dies

1) Javakhk Armenians Deliver Strong Message to Council of Europe

Just as the Council of Europe’s Monitoring Committee was to convene on October
24 to review Georgia’s fulfillment of obligations and commitments before the
European body, Javakhk’s Council of Armenian Non-Governmental Organizations
submitted a powerful memorandum to that committee outlining commitments that
Georgia, on becoming a Council of Europe member in April 1999, has failed to
fulfill–namely those dealing with national minorities, local self governance,
and autonomy.
Pointing to the resulting social and economic decay, they ask that Javakhk be
fully integrated into the social, political, socioeconomic, and cultural lives
of the country. The stress, however, that integration is not synonymous with
assimilation, and that autonomy is a must for the struggling region.

The following is the full text of that Memorandum titled, “The Situation in
The Samtskhe-Javakheti Region in Georgia And Georgia’s Obligations And
Commitments before The Council of Europe.”

As you prepare to hold your next meeting in Georgia, we, the leaders of the
Armenian nongovernmental organizations of the Samtskhe-Javakheti territory in
Georgia, attaching great importance to the sovereignty and territorial
integrity of our country, wish to bring to your attention the critical
situation in Samtskhe-Javakheti, which if left unresolved, could have dire
consequences for the population of the territory and for Georgia as a whole.
When joining the Council of Europe in 1999, the following were among the
obligations and commitments Georgia undertook:

a) to sign and ratify, within a year after its accession, the Framework
Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter
for Regional or Minority Languages; b) to sign and ratify, within three years
after its accession, the European Charter of Local Self-Government, […] and
in the meantime to apply the fundamental principles of [this] instrument;
c) to
enact, within two years after its accession, a legal framework determining the
status of the autonomous territories and guaranteeing them broad autonomy, the
exact terms of which are to be negotiated with the representatives of the
territories concerned; d) to amend, within three years after its accession,
law on autonomy and local government to enable all the heads of councils to be
elected instead of being appointed; e) to adopt, within two years after its
accession, a law on minorities based on the principles of Assembly
Recommendation 1201 (1993).

Five years after accession, Georgia has yet to take steps towards fulfilling
the above mentioned commitments and obligations. In fact, the process of
fulfilling these commitments before the Council of Europe has failed, and,
inter alia, has made the situation in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region critical.
The 1995 Georgian constitution does not define the administrative
structure of
the country and in practice the district-level self-government does not match
democratic standards. In the Samtskhe-Javakheti region, discriminatory laws
practices have left the Armenian population far less represented in the
district administration. There are no elective bodies on the regional level
there is no legislative base for the institution of state commissioners
appointed by presidential decrees. The present administrative structure and
method of governance do not take into account the specifics of the region and
do not correspond to the needs of the population.
The system has long demonstrated that it is bankrupt and unfruitful. The
Samtskhe-Javakheti region has actually been pushed out of the governing
processes of the country.
The administrative governance of the region has been frustrated. At the local
level, flagrant discrimination is practiced against the local Armenian
population; in contrast to the rest of the country, in the Armenian populated
areas of Samtskhe-Javakheti most sakrebulos (locally elected bodies)
incorporate several villages, whereas each Georgian populated village has a
separate sakrebulo, thus artificially increasing the Georgian presence on the
district level.
These measures, policies and practices are in direct contradiction to the
European Charter of Local Self-Government, which Georgia had undertaken to
and ratify within three years after its accession and in the meantime to apply
the fundamental principles of this instrument.
No short or long-term socio-economic programs to serve the interests of the
population are implemented. The poverty and desperation have reached
threatening levels. Educational and cultural conditions are unsatisfactory.
In the last ten months, we have conveyed our concerns and recommendations to
the highest authorities in Georgia and to the (now former) Secretary
General of
the Council of Europe, but to no avail. All of them have failed to even
acknowledge receipt of our written communications.
It is crucial to have the Samtskhe-Javakheti region fully integrated in the
state, political, socioeconomic and cultural lives of the country. But
integration is not synonymous to assimilation, neither is autonomy to
secession. In a democratic society, integration can only be achieved through
participation. Policies and practices pursuing assimilation or artificial and
forceful change of demographic realities can only result in the opposite.
Integration requires that both the majority and the minority have the desire
for it and the willingness to take mutual steps towards each other.
Under the guise of integration, the Georgian authorities have enacted laws
which are contrary to the spirit and letter of the Framework Convention for
Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or
Minority Languages, which Georgia had undertaken to sign and ratify within a
year after its accession, but has failed to do so after over five years
following its accession. Furthermore, and in direct contradiction of the
above-mentioned Framework Convention and European Charter, the Georgian
authorities have recently introduced a draft law on education, which, if
enacted, would effectively prevent Georgia’s national minorities, including
Armenians, from education at all levels in their relevant regional or minority
There is no broad social-political consensus in the country on political
issues connected with ethnic diversity of Georgia and its internal political
and administrative systems. The reported Armenian ancestry of politicians and
public figures is often regarded to be derogatory. Whereas the existence of a
large number of Armenian cultural and religious monuments, as well as
historical records speak of the fact that in Southern Georgia, including in
Samtskhe-Javakheti region, the Armenians are natives, Georgian society regards
the Armenians in those regions as newcomers. There is recorded evidence of
attempts to “Georgianize” these monuments. The Georgian authorities are
contradictory messages on how national minorities can protect and promote
linguistic and cultural rights: whereas, on the one hand, the Georgian
authorities are undermining the linguistic and cultural rights of the
law-abiding national minorities, on the other hand, in order to appease those
who have declared their independence from Georgia, the same authorities
them to protect and promote their language and culture in return for restoring
Georgian sovereignty on those territories.
We are convinced that if Georgia completely and sincerely honors its
obligations and
commitments, especially those mentioned at the beginning of this
Memorandum, it
would greatly help alleviate the serious situation in Samtskhe-Javakheti.
Hence we appeal to you, the Committee on the Honoring of Obligations and
Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe, to ensure that Georgia
honors its commitments entered into on its accession to the Council of Europe.
We are at the disposal of your Committee for further elaboration and

Council of Armenian Non-Governmental Organizations of the Samtskhe-Javakheti
Region in Georgia

October 21, 2004

The Council attaches its December 30, 2003 appeal to then acting President of
Nino Burjanadze; appeal to President Saakashvili to grant autonomy to Javakhk;
and letter to Secretary General of the Council of Europe Walter Schwimmer

2) Turkey Must Recognize Cyprus before Joining EU, Says British Minister

NICOSIA (Combined Sources)–The United Kingdom’s minister to Europe Denis
MacShane appeared to raise the bar for Turkish membership to the European
Union, saying, “It is not possible for Turkey to become a member of the
European Union while it does not recognize a member of the Union. This is
legally impossible.”
MacShane was in Northern Cyprus for a fact-finding visit that included
meetings with a number of Turkish Cypriot politicians.
MacShane also stressed there is no justification for Turkey to retain
thousands of troops on the soil of an EU member state.
In a strongly-worded message to Ankara, MacShane also called on the Turkish
government to withdraw its troops from the divided island of Cyprus.
“This money could be spent on social projects that would benefit both
communities,” he said.
He added his belief that once normal relations between Nicosia and Ankara had
begun, negotiations over the demilitarization of the island would begin under
the auspices of the UN.
MacShane called on the Cypriots of both sides of the Green Line to put the
“problems of the last century” behind them and work together to face new
But while pushing for Turkey’s recognition of Cyprus, the minister asked that
a date to begin the Turkish accession talks be set. He added that it would be
wrong to insist that Turkey removes all its troops from the island as a
precondition for a starting date.

3) Presidents Discuss Economic and Political Cooperation; Weapons Scare at
Local Music Hall

TBILISI (Combined Sources)On Sunday, President Robert Kocharian ended a
three-day official visit to Georgia, which he and his Georgian counterpart
Mikhail Saakashvili said will help the two neighboring nations strengthen
The two leaders held a series of talks that focused on bilateral trade,
transport, and other economic issues.
The economic focus of the visit was underscored by an Armenian-Georgian
economic forum that began its work in Tbilisi during the weekend. Saakashvili
and Kocharian presided over its opening session. Twenty-nine businessmen
accompanied Kocharian to the forum, and discussed the privatization of the
Port and the energy sector.
The situation in the Armenian-populated Javakhk region in southern Georgia
also on the agenda of the talks. The Armenian and Georgian leaders discussed
economic development programs for the impoverished region, with Kocharian
indicating that Armenia is ready to assist in rebuilding local roads
leading to
the Armenian border. Kocharian also held a separate meeting with leaders of
Armenian community in Tbilisi.
At a joint briefing to journalists, Kocharian stressed the need to
the railway through Abkhazia that would link Armenia with Russia. The Armenian
president went on to say, however, that this issue could be resolved only by
“More frequent railway movement is better for all of us. The absence of
railway communications is neither favorable to Armenians or Georgians. I think
that a pragmatic approach to this issue would be very useful, although I
understand that it is a very difficult issue, and Georgia has to decide
what to
do,” the Armenian president said.
Saakashvili chose not to comment on the issue, speaking instead of regional
“The Baltic countries could push for this idea to take shape as part of the
[EU] new neighbors policy. We are ready to cooperate with them,” said
On Saturday, Kocharian met with Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania, who praised the
Armenian president, saying, “I want to say that Kocharian always pays great
attention to eliminate even small defects in relations with Georgia,” Zhvania
told reporters, and said the talks addressed Georgia’s import of electricity
from Armenia.
Kocharian also met with Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze, and said
afterwards that close cooperation between the parliaments is one of the main
components of bilateral relations.
“We agreed to strengthen the relations between our parliaments, and, I will
also invite the Speaker of the Armenian parliament to Georgia. We have
cooperated in the past, and now we only need to refresh it,” he told
journalists in the parliament after the meeting.
Burjanadze welcomed the idea of bilateral cooperation between the two
parliaments, saying that “this is in the interests of both countries and the
region as a whole.”
Kocharian also met with Georgian Patriarch Ilia II, and visited the Heroes
Square where he laid a wreath on the memorial to soldiers who died fighting to
preserve Georgia’s territorial integrity.
Later, Saakashvili and Kocharian expressed their condolence to former
president Eduard Shevardnadze in connection with his wife’s death. They paid
their respects by going to the presidential Krtsanisi residence late at
Afterwards, Kocharian and Saakashvili visited the Adjaria Music Hall, where a
show in honor of the Armenian president was being held. The joyous atmosphere
of the evening was marred when weapons were discovered in the building.
Investigators have not yet determined if the weapons were linked to a possible
dual assassination attempt.
The two presidents spent that night at the presidential residence in Likani,
near Borjomi.
On the third and last day of the official visit, Kocharian met with the
Armenian diaspora of Georgia, during which complaints about unemployment were
the focus of talks.
Also on Sunday, Minister of Internal Affairs of Armenia Haik Harutunian, and
Georgia’s Minister of Internal Affairs Irakli Okruashvili signed an agreement
to create a joint board that will work to eradicate the trafficking of drugs
and stolen cars. Their first session will be held on December 20.
“This board will have to meet once every two-three months in order to develop
this idea,” stated Okruashvili at the briefing, after the signing of the

4) Heads of Oriental Orthodox Churches Sign Common Declaration in Cairo

ANTELIAS–The seventh meeting of the heads of the Oriental Orthodox
Churches of
the Middle EastCoptic, Syrian, and Armeniantook place in Cairo, Egypt on
October 21, following the meeting between the standing committees of the three
In their Common Declaration, which thanked God for the centuries’ long unity
that has existed between the churches, His Holiness Pope Shnouda III, His
Holiness Mar Ignatius Zakka I, and His Holiness Aram I emphasized the
importance of bilateral theological dialogue, and the need to resume such
dialogue between the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches.
Within the declaration, the three church heads expressed their deep concern
for the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate’s use of the word “Catholicosate” in
describing itself, and noted that if Roman Catholic Church fails to solve the
matter, “our churches will not participate in the official theological
with the Catholic church.”
Referring to dialogue with the Anglican World communion that was suspended by
these churches after the ordination of an Anglican gay bishop in the United
States, the heads of the churches reiterated their concern and the position of
their churches that “all practice and behavior related to marriage and sexual
orientation must be in accord with the biblical and moral teachings of our
Churches. We hope that in the near future the Anglican Communion will solve
this matter which will enable us to resume our theological dialogue with the
Anglican Communion.”
The Church heads renewed “the commitment of their churches to peace with
justice,” and condemned “all forms and expression of violence and urged all to
engage in processes and actions aimed at conflict resolution through mutual
love, respect and trust.” In referring to the current situation in the Middle
East, the declaration stated: “The escalation of violence and confusion in
worries us. Due to this situation, the country is losing its people either
through deaths or immigration. We urge all Iraqi citizens, regardless of their
religious and cultural backgrounds, to work for the wellbeing of their country
and their fellow citizens. We call on all nations to assist the people of Iraq
in helping to restore independence and sovereignty with the full participation
of all Muslim and Christian communities in Iraq. We renew our call for a
renewed peace process that will focus on the establishment of a Palestinian
state and the right to return for the Palestinians. True and lasting peace
only be realized when justice and dignity is upheld and maintained, and when
Israel, according to UN Security Council Resolutions, withdraws from Arab and
Palestinian territories.”

5) Zoo Cries Foul after Armenia Bound Elephant Dies

(BBC)–The seven-year-old elephant calf Komala, due to have flown to
Armenia as
a gift from Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam, died in agony after what
officials at the Msyore zoo in southern India are calling a conspiracy by
Komala–the darling of one of India’s oldest zoos, was described as
and playful, and had been hand-picked for Armenia because of her pleasing
features, officials say.
Doctors battled for hours to save her on Friday, but in vain.
“It is really unfortunate. The elephant was to fly out on October 14, but we
could not get a confirmed cargo booking,” said the zoo’s director Manoj
The next date fixed was October 30, but destiny had other plans.”
Officials suspect she could be the latest victim of poisoning by disgruntled
employees, and, perhaps, a persistent campaign to discredit the zoo for
Two elephants and an endangered lion-tailed macaque died in similar
circumstances in August. An official inquiry began on Monday.
It is suspected that all the deaths could be due to poisoning.
Komala had died despite tight security arrangements following the deaths of
the two other elephants, Ganesha and Roopa, and the lion-tailed macaque in
Ganesha and Roopa had acute hemorrhage enteritis and respiratory distress
caused by zinc phosphide, normally used as poison for rodents.
This is not the first time animals have died mysteriously in captivity in
Measure, leading some to believe there is a plot to damage the state-run zoo’s
reputation–although it is not clear why anyone would want to do so.
Last year, a chimp, and two EMU’s from Australia also died under suspicious

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