ASBAREZ Online [02-09-2005]


1) White House Proposes Maintaining Armenia-Azerbaijan Military Assistance
2) Patriarchate Chancellor Remarks on Melkonian Grant
3) Sargsian’s Iran Visit Continues; Meets with Khatami
4) Deputy Russian Parliament Chairman Proposes New Approach to Calm Tensions
over Karabagh
5) Hungarian Court Postpones Safarov Trial

1) White House Proposes Maintaining Armenia-Azerbaijan Military Assistance

ANCA welcomes recognition of the role that military aid parity plays in
regional stability

WASHINGTON, DC–In a move welcomed as a contribution to regional stability
the search for peace, the Bush Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 budget
proposal, released February 7, called for maintaining parity in military
assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National Committee
of America (ANCA). This decision represents a break from the last year’s
widely criticized FY 2005 budget request, which, although later reversed by
Congress, initially proposed providing four times more military aid to
Azerbaijan than to Armenia.
“We are gratified that the President’s Fiscal Year 2006 budget calls for
parity in military aid appropriations to Armenia and Azerbaijan,” said ANCA
Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We welcome this request as a contribution
toward regional peace, and want to extend our appreciation to Congressman
Knollenberg, Senator McConnell and the other key legislators who impressed
the Administration the wisdom of this course of action.”
The budget request includes $5 million in Foreign Military Finance (FMF)
assistance and $750,000 in International Military Education and Training
for both Armenia and Azerbaijan. The FY 2006 White House proposal also
includes a $55 million earmark for Armenia, $7 million less than the figure
proposed by the Administration last year, and $20 million less than the actual
assistance appropriated by Congress for 2005. Azerbaijan and Georgia have
budgeted $35 million and $67 million, respectively. The overall foreign aid
budget for the former Soviet Union is $482 million, a $74 million reduction
from last year.
For the first time, the budget document also makes specific reference to
‘Nagorno Karabagh,’ citing that a portion of a $48.5 million allocation for
Eurasia would include funding for humanitarian assistance to Mountainous
Karabagh Republic.
“We were pleased that the Administration’s request, for the first time,
specifically cited humanitarian aid to Nagorno Karabagh,” continued
“We were, however, troubled by the White House’s proposed reduction in aid to
Armenia. We will, in the coming weeks and months, work with Congressional
appropriators in support of an increased allocation for Armenia.”
The Foreign Operations Subcommittees of the Senate and House Appropriation
Committees will now review the budget and each draft their own versions of the
FY 2006 foreign assistance bill.
The agreement to maintain parity in US military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan
was struck between the White House and Congress in 2001, in the wake of
Congressional action granting the President the authority to waive the Section
907 restrictions on aid to Azerbaijan. The ANCA has vigorously defended this
principle, stressing in correspondence, at senior level meetings, and through
grassroots activism, that a tilt in military spending toward Azerbaijan would
destabilize the region, emboldening Azerbaijan’s leadership to continue their
threats to impose a military solution to the Nagorno Karabagh conflict. More
broadly, the ANCA has underscored that breaching the parity agreement would
reward the leadership of Azerbaijan for walking away from the OSCE’s Key West
peace talks, the most promising opportunity to resolve the Nagorno Karabagh
conflict in nearly a decade. Finally, failing to respect the parity agreement
would, the ANCA has stressed, undermine the role of the US as an impartial
mediator of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.

2) Patriarchate Chancellor Remarks on Melkonian Grant

Concerning the press release of the AGBU Central Board of Directors, on the
lawsuit filed by His Beatitude Mesrob II, Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul and
all Turkey, the Rev. Dr. Krikor Damadyan, the Chancellor of the Patriarchal
[of Turkey], released the following statement:
“It is difficult to comprehend how the closure of a prestigious school in the
Middle East, and one of the very few Armenian educational institutions in the
European Union could be in the best interests of the Armenian nation. We
believe that this decision, taken by a few executives, is a wrong one.
“The AGBU Central Board of Directors claims that it will continue to honour
the vision of its many generous benefactors including the late Garabed
Melkonian, for the benefit of all Armenians worldwide. This is a remarkable
statement since the AGBU is confessing publicly that the Armenians in Turkey
are not considered part of “all Armenians worldwide,” since, unlike the
Gulbenkian Foundation and the Apcarian Trust, the AGBU has not taken much
interest in how Armenians in Turkey have wrestled to maintain their community
organisations during the last seventy-five years. However, we do acknowledge
receipt of minor sums sent us by donors through AGBU means.
“The only way to honour the vision of the Melkonian Brothers is to keep the
Melkonian Educational Institute in Cyprus open. The AGBU should refrain from
closing down the MEI and selling the property, lest she should declare herself
untrustworthy before all Armenians worldwide. Why should people make grants to
a charity organisation such as the AGBU, if following their demise a few
executives will deal with the grant in a way that will not do justice to the
benefactor’s memory?
“The AGBU should also publish how she has executed the Melkonian Trust since
1926. As the present successor to Patriarch Zaven of blessed memory, His
Beatitude Patriarch Mesrob takes dutiful interest as to whether the terms of
the grant have been implemented responsibly. Every charity organisation should
be accountable to the public and should not take offense when asked for
accounts. AGBU executives who donate their own family wealth on charity are
appreciated dearly by all Armenians worldwide. Nevertheless, that should not
allow them any right to do as they please with the grants made by other
“His Beatitude Patriarch Mesrob has magnanimously made it known to those
Californian Armenians who would like to act as mediators that he would be
willing to receive a delegation in Istanbul in order to discuss a meaningful
settlement of this critically important issue to the Armenians of Europe.
justice will be done if the AGBU reverses her decision to close down the
Melkonian Educational Institute. This is our Patriarchate’s wish and
prayer, as
also expressed by numerous Melkonian alumni worldwide.”

3) Sargsian’s Iran Visit Continues; Meets with Khatami

TEHRAN (Combined Sources)According to Iran Daily, President Mohammad Khatami
during a meeting with Defense Minister Serge Sargsian stated that cooperation
between Iran and Armenia will help advance mutual interests and promote
regional security and stability.
Khatami told the visiting Armenian minister that the presidents of the two
countries have opened a new chapter in Yerevan-Baku economic cooperation and
should now exert efforts in implementing mutually beneficial accords. To
further such cooperation, the Iranian president spoke about the need for road
and railways that establish a north-south connection.
Echoing Khatami’s remarks, Sargsian noted that the promotion of cultural,
educational, and economic cooperation will bolster regional security.
Sargsian reiterated this sentiment during a Tuesday meeting with his Iranian
counterpart, Hojatoleslam Hassan Rowhani, who raised the Karabagh issue.
Rowhani said that the conflict’s resolution will stem from direct dialogue
between Yerevan and Baku, and assured Sargsian that Iran is ready to offer its
assistance in resolving the issues. Ruling out a military solution, the
minister also noted that the people of Karabagh must be involved in deciding
the fate of region.
Responding to Rowhani, Sargsian said that Armenia is ready to settle the
Karabagh crisis within the framework of a collective settlement, which
addresses all of the disputed issues. Sargsian also thanked the Iranian
government for supporting Armenia’s membership in the North-South transit
The same day, Sargsian also met with Expediency Council Chairman Akbar
Rafsanjani, who stated, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is willing to broaden
ties with neighboring countries,” and that it is interested to mediating a
peaceful solution to the Karabagh conflict.

4) Deputy Russian Parliament Chairman Proposes New Approach to Calm Tensions
over Karabagh

MOSCOW (Armenpress)–Russian parliament member Vladimir Zhirinovsky proposed,
on Tuesday, a new scheme for ending the more than a decade-long dispute
Armenia and Azerbaijan over Mountainous Karabagh.
Considered the most outspoken political leader of his time, Zhirinovsky
that Karabagh should join the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), in
order to calm tensions on both sides.
Zhirinovsky, the head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and a deputy
chairman of parliament, pointed to the futility of resolving both the
conflict and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Speaking to a news conference in Moscow, he stressed that neither Armenia nor
Azerbaijan would ever agree to concessions on Karabagh. “If Russia insists on
joining Karabagh with Armenia, that will offend Azerbaijan; if Karabagh is
joined with Azerbaijan that will hurt Armenia,” he said, adding that
Mountainous Karabagh is, in fact, a historical part of Armenia.

5) Hungarian Court Postpones Safarov Trial

BUDAPEST (Armenpress)–A Hungarian court has postponed the trail of an Azeri
officer accused of murdering his Armenian counterpart, until May 10.
Attorney Nazeli Vardanian, who is representing the interests of the slain
officer’s family, revealed that the court has postponed the trial because two
witnesses–one from Azerbaijan, the other from Lithuania–did not show up in
court for the scheduled February 8 trial. She also said that psychiatrists and
other experts have found the defendant Ramil Safarov, physically and mentally
fit to stand trail.
Safarov is accused of slaying of Gurgen Margarian, on February 19, 2004,
both officers were attending a NATO-sponsored English language training
courses in Hungary.
The Azeri officer is charged with first-degree and attempted murder–and could
face 10 years to life imprisonment, if found guilty.

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