ASBAREZ Online [02-23-2005]


1) Regional ANC Office to Be Established in Middle East
2) Wall Street Journal Article about Turkey Causes Waves of Shock
3) Georgia and Russia at Impasse Says New Premier
4) Senior Official Arrested on Corruption Charges

1) Regional ANC Office to Be Established in Middle East

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau has
decided to establish a regional Armenian National Committee office in the
Middle East to meet the challenges of ensuring continuity and success of
efforts commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
A fundraising banquet will be held on February 26 in Paris, chaired by
Catholicos Aram I, where upcoming projects will be presented. Public figures
and dignitaries from Armenia, Russia, Europe, and the Middle East have been
invited to attend.

2) Wall Street Journal Article about Turkey Causes Waves of Shock

ISTANBUL (Armenpress)–As the Turkish Daily “Zaman” reported recently, Robert
L. Pollock’s article titled “The Sick Man of Europe–Again,” which appeared in
the February 16 issue of the Wall Street Journal, has sent shock waves
throughout the Republic of Turkey. Given the Journal’s friendly stance towards
Turkey during the past five decades, and its senior editorial page writer’s
personal attitude about the country–Pollock described himself as a friend of
Turkey during an interview–the Turkish newspaper speculates that the article
can only indicate a major shift in American sentiment toward the republic.
In the article, Pollock states that during a recent visit to Turkey he
discovered “a poisonous atmosphere–one in which just about every politician
and media outlet (secular and religious) preaches an extreme combination of
America- and Jew-hatred that…voluntarily goes far further than anything
in most of the Arab world’s state-controlled press. If I hesitate to call it
Nazi-like, that’s only because Goebbels would probably have rejected much
of it
as too crude.”
Pollock fills his American audience in on the various rumors spread by
newspapers regarding US’s presence in Iraq. “Yeni Safak,” which Pollock states
is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s favorite, has unveiled a number of
“scoops,” including reports detailing the rape and murder of Iraqi women and
children by US forces, the deployment of 1000 Israeli troops in Iraq, and the
harvesting of the innards of dead Iraqis for the eventual sale on the US
Referring to US Ambassador Eric Edelman’s difficulties in light of such
attitudes, Pollock notes, “Never in an ostensibly friendly country have I had
the impression of embassy staff so besieged. Erdogan’s office recently forbade
Turkish officials from attending a reception at the ambassador’s residence in
honor of the ‘Ecumenical ‘ Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, who resides in
Istanbul. Why? Because ‘ecumenical’ means universal, which somehow makes it
part of a plot to carve up Turkey.”
After describing several other such examples, Pollock ends his article
with an
ominous warning: “Turkey could easily become just another second-rate country:
small-minded, paranoid, marginal and–how could it be
otherwise?–friendless in
America and unwelcome in Europe!”
According to “Zaman,” Armenian- and Greek-Americans have provided significant
support to Robert L. Pollock, in response to his views on Turkey. A
Greek-American organization, according to “Zaman,” has also distributed copies
of Pollock’s article to members of Congress.
Among the many postings on the Wall Street Journal’s website, was one by a
reader named David Govett, who wrote: “Turkey cannot be the sick man of Europe
because it has never been a part of Europe. Ataturk’s initiatives to modernize
Turkey were as successful as Crazy Peter’s Westernization attempts on Russia.”

3) Georgia and Russia at Impasse Says New Premier

By Arkady Ostrovsky

TBILISI–Relations between Russia and Georgia have reached a stalemate that
jeopardizes Georgia’s efforts to restore stability and its territorial
integrity, Zurab Nogaideli, the country’s new prime minister, has told the
Financial Times.
Georgia’s 15-month-old government, installed after a popular uprising ousted
president Eduard Schevardnadze, is struggling to regain control over the
break-away regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia–both backed by Russia.
US President Bush told European leaders this week that Georgia was one of the
countries that needed assistance in developing democracy.
But Russia, which still has military bases in Georgia, has strongly opposed
Tbilisi’s efforts to establish control over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Moscow
has also used combative language in relation to Georgia, accusing it of
harboring terrorists from neighboring Chechnya.
In his first interview since taking office, Nogaideli said a recent visit by
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, had failed to achieve a breakthrough
in the relationship between the two countries, which has turned increasingly
sour during the past year.
Nogaideli, former finance minister in the government of Zurab Zhvania, who
died of carbon monoxide poisoning this month, had said: “For us the most
important problem in the relationship with Russia is the resolution of
conflicts on our territory. We want to solve the issue of territorial
peacefully. But everyone understands that without Russia’s good will, it will
be impossible.”
Lavrov’s visit was overshadowed by a diplomatic spat after the Russian
minister declined an invitation to lay flowers at the memorial for Georgian
soldiers who died in a military conflict with Abkhazia in the early 1990s.
However, in an interview on Russian television last weekend, Lavrov indicated
that Russia no longer considered Georgia to be under his country’s hegemony.
Both Ukraine and Georgia, he said, were “absolutely sovereign, absolutely
states in the new geopolitical architecture.”
Georgian politicians said there was a risk that Russia would test its strength
against Georgia to compensate for its failings in Ukraine.
One senior official said: “There is a real danger that Georgia will become a
foreign-policy Yukos for Russia, designed to demonstrate its strength.”
Russia suffered a humiliating defeat when it failed to influence the outcome
of Ukrainian elections last year and its tough stance towards Georgia is seen
as part of the Kremlin’s efforts to prove its influence in the former Soviet
However, while the official relationship with Moscow has been difficult,
Georgia has managed to attract Russian investment. “We find talking to Russian
investors easier than talking to the Russian government,” Nogaideli said.

4) Senior Official Arrested on Corruption Charges

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A former high-ranking official at the Armenian Finance
Ministry who was in charge of overseeing the use of public funds by various
government agencies has been arrested on corruption charges, state prosecutors
announced on Wednesday.
The spokesman for the Prosecutor-General’s Office, Gurgen Ambarian, said that
Levon Shahinian, who headed the ministry’s financial oversight department, was
charged the previous night with large-scale fraud that allegedly allowed
him to
pocket about 40 million drams ($85,000). He said the money was meant to be
to two private auditing firms.
Under Armenia’s Criminal Code the accusations carry between four and eight
years’ imprisonment.
Ambarian alleged that Shahinian forged “financial agreements, reports and
other documents” to defraud the auditors, but refused to detail the
accusations. It was also unclear if the suspect has pleaded guilty to the
Shahinian, who headed the Finance Ministry department since 2001, was
of his duties a week ago “at his own request,” according to a ministry
The department inspects ministries and other government agencies that are
financed through the state budget. Some of them are audited by private firms
contracted by the government.

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