ASBAREZ Online [08-30-2005]

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08/30/2005
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1) France Pushes Ahead with Cyprus Question pre Turkey-EU Talks
2) ANCA Sets Record Straight in Face of Continued Azeri Misinformation on
Mountainous Karabagh
3) No Breakthrough in Kazan, Says FM Okanian
4) Cascade Credit Issued Armenian Bonds Gain USAID Guarantee
5) Heated Debates on Proposed Constitutional Reforms Continue in Armenia’s
Parliament
6) Parliament Chairman to Participate in State Department Program for Emerging
Leaders

1) France Pushes Ahead with Cyprus Question pre Turkey-EU Talks

(AFP/RTE News)–French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy has raised the
pressure on Turkey over Cyprus, saying it is inconceivable that a country
seeking to enter the EU could fail to recognize all its members.
Turkey is due to start EU entry talks on October 3, but has angered the union
by saying that its signing of a key EU protocol does not signify
recognition of
the Greek Cypriot government.
The EU recognizes the Greek Cypriot government of the divided island of
Cyprus, while Turkey has long supported the breakaway Turkish Cypriot northern
region.
“It is hardly conceivable that a country that is asking to enter a community
refuses to recognize one of its members,” Douste-Blazy told a conference of
French ambassadors.
France “does not want to start a new crisis in Europe” but as an EU member it
“is within its rights in asking Turkey to clarify its position” on Cyprus,
Douste-Blazy said.
Turkey was high on the agenda of the ambassadors’ meeting, whose theme this
year was the implications of the May 29 referendum in which French voters
rejected the proposed EU constitution treaty.
Opposition by some French parties to Turkey joining the EU was used as an
argument during the campaign for the constitution referendum, although the
issue was unconnected with the treaty itself.
French President Jacques Chirac said on Monday Turkey had to clarify its
stance on Cyprus and added it must offer assurances that it will carry out all
its commitments to the European Union. Chirac has promised to put the issue of
Turkish membership to a referendum; the European Commission repeated on Monday
its position that Turkey did not have to recognize Cyprus in order for
accession talks to begin.
EU President Jose Manuel Barroso said in an interview published on Tuesday
that no European Union members have suggested delaying the start of EU
membership talks with Turkey.
“So far, no country has signaled to me that it wants to delay the start of
talks [from the Oct. 3 target date],” Barroso was quoted as saying by Polish
daily Gazeta Wyborcza.
“The European Commission prepared a project of negotiations with Turkey.
It is
up to the countries in the EU to decide [to back it or not],” he said.
Douste-Blazy said France wanted to “respect its commitments but expects
Turkey
and other candidate countries to respect theirs and satisfy the conditions for
joining the Union

2) ANCA Sets Record Straight in Face of Continued Azeri Misinformation on
Mountainous Karabagh

“At the heart of this issue is Nagorno Karabagh–a democracy defending itself
against a corrupt monarchy that blockades its neighbors and abuses its own
citizens.”

–ANCA Memo to Congress, August 26, 2005

WASHINGTON, DC–In letters sent last week to every Member of Congress, the
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) responded to the recent
escalation of Azeri Embassy’s misinformation campaign by outlining the
long-standing United States record in support of Mountainous Karabagh.
In an August 26th memo to Congressional offices, ANCA Executive Director Aram
Hamparian explained that, “the Azerbaijan government–on the defensive about
its own record on democracy and freedom–is again resorting to misstatements
and outright falsehood to advance its agenda.” The ANCA letter came in
response to an August 17th letter by Azeri Ambassador Hafez Pashayev, which
misrepresented the progress of democracy and free elections in Mountainous
Karabagh. Erroneous statements in the letter included false assertions that
“Nagorno Karabagh was never independent nor a part of Armenia,” as well as
untrue charges about Armenian aggression.
The ANCA memo highlighted several key points concerning United States support
for Mountainous Karabagh:

– Declassified CIA reports from the seventies, eighties, and nineties
reveal a
pattern of official –although confidential-acknowledgment that Mountainous
Karabagh is a historic part of Armenia. ()

– In the late 1980’s, the United States welcomed Mountainous Karabagh’s
historic challenge to the Soviet system and its leadership in sparking
democratic movements in the Baltics and throughout the Soviet empire.

– The US Senate, in November of 1989, adopted SJ Res 178, recognizing that
“Nagorno-Karabagh has continually expressed its desire for self-determination
and freedom.”

– The US State Department’s representative to the OSCE “Minsk Group”
regularly
visits Mountainous Karabagh, which is an official party to the peace process,
and consults with its democratically elected leaders.

– The US Government, since 1992, has been on record officially condemning
Azerbaijan’s blockades and other uses of force against both Armenia and
Mountainous Karabagh (Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act).

– The US Government, over Azerbaijan’s protests, has provided direct
humanitarian assistance to Mountainous Karabagh since 1998.

– On August 3rd, Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) initiated a Congressional letter to President Bush,
drawing attention to “the important progress being made by the people of the
Nagorno Karabakh Republic, Artsakh, towards freedom, peace and prosperity.”
This letter, which is currently gaining signatures during the Congressional
recess, notes that, just as, the US champions “freedom for all peoples around
the world, we should also continue supporting the aspirations of the people of
Artsakh to live in freedom, particularly in the strategically important South
Caucasus.”
ANCA chapters and activists have been contacting their legislators over the
past month in support of the Congressional letter to President Bush, set to
delivered to the White House on September 30th.

3) No Breakthrough in Kazan, Says FM Okanian

YEREVAN (RFE/RL/Yerkir)–Armenia’s foreign minister Vartan Oskanian indicated
that though talks between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan were
positive, there were no breakthroughs resulting from their weekend meeting in
Kazan.
“True, no breakthrough was achieved during that meeting, but we do
consider it
positive and believe that the negotiations are following a positive
course,” he
told a news conference on Tuesday.
“The most important thing is that the presidents’ meeting in Kazan enables
the
[foreign] ministers to continue their work. I think that there will be a
meeting of the ministers in the near future.”
He pointed out that the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group may also be
visiting
the region.
“I think that we have some work to do regarding the results of the
presidents’
meeting and that there is now new room for continuing the process,” Oskanian
said.
Oskanian’s Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov seems to agree. He told
reporters on Monday that though each presidential meeting is a step
forward, it
is too early to talk about progress. “We have not yet reached a point where we
need to inform our public about details,” he explained. “We are still not
there. That is why it is not worth thinking about that,” he told reporters on
Monday.
Talks between Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Azeri President Ilham
Aliyev were held on the sidelines of the August 27 summit of the Commonwealth
of Independent States in Kazan, the capital of Russia’s Tatarstan.
Oskanian provided to reporters an overview of that summit as well as
Armenia’s
integration process into Europe, emphasizing joint projects carried out by
Armenia, the European Union, and NATO.

4) Cascade Credit Issued Armenian Bonds Gain USAID Guarantee

YEREVAN (ArmenPress)–Cascade Credit CJSC and the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID) signed a loan guarantee agreement on
Tuesday,
whereby USAID has agreed to guarantee Cascade Credit CJSC issued bonds.

US Ambassador John Evans, USAID Country Mission Director Robin Phillips, and
Cascade Credit Executive Director Garegin Gevorgyan signed the agreement at
Cascade Capital Holding headquarters in Yerevan, Armenia.
This agreement will provide a partial guarantee of Cascade Credit bonds to be
issued and traded on the Armenian Stock Exchange (ARMEX).
If necessary, the guarantee will cover up to 50 percent of the principal
amount of Cascade Credit’s public debt. The proceeds from the bond issuance
will be primarily used for financing Armenian exports.
A subsidiary of Cascade Capital Holdings, Cascade Credit CJSC is a
non-banking
credit organization actively engaged in developing the Armenian Public
Corporate Debt market, by introducing a range of financial products and
concepts specifically tailored for Armenia. It aims to become a major
mediating
financial player in Armenia, focusing on identifying market inefficiencies and
eliminating them through profitable strategies. Cascade Capital Holdings is
100% owned by the Cafesjian Family Foundation (CFF), a United States 501(C) 3
organization.
According to Garegin Gevorgyan, Executive Director of Cascade Credit, “the
USAID partial guarantee for bonds to be issued by Cascade Credit will pave the
way for development of capital markets in Armenia by illustrating the
viability
of public corporate debt market.”
“It is also a major step towards Cascade Capital’s goal to become a financial
market leader in Armenia and the Caucasus,” elaborated Jonathan Stark, Deputy
Director of Cascade Capital Holdings.

5) Heated Debates on Proposed Constitutional Reforms Continue in Armenia’s
Parliament

YEREVAN (ArmenPress/Yerkir)–Armenian lawmakers continued to debate
constitutional reforms proposed by the President and the coalition government,
but failed to meet the vote deadline, after their second and final reading.
The draft was harshly criticized by members of the opposition “National
Unity”
and “Justice” factions, who called on Armenians to reject the proposed
amendments during a national referendum in October.
But Levon Mkrtchian, the leader of Armenian Revolutionary Federation faction
in parliament rejected the oppositions arguments that the proposed draft would
be “tantamount to losing an opportune chance to advance reforms.”
“These draft amendments will enable us to become the most democratic country
of the region,” Mkrtchian told the parliament’s extraordinary session on
constitutional amendments.
He also noted that when presenting the amendments to the public, politicians
should be truthful in mentioning both the positive and the negative aspects of
the charter.
“Today, we are determining the country’s future and not the issue of
tomorrow’s rulers,” Mkrtchian told the opposition.
The proposed reforms enjoy the backing of the Council of Europe, particularly
its advisory body on constitutional law, the Venice Commission.
But the opposition Justice alliance’s Shavarsh Kocharian insisted that the
draft does not include 16 of the key proposals by the Venice commission,
including the issue of electing the capital’s mayor via direct polls.
The head of the Council of Europe office in Armenia, Bojana Urumova told
parliament on Monday, however, that the Venice Commission “believes in [the]
text and supports it fully.” She was speaking on behalf of the Commission’s
secretary Gianni Buquicchio.
The European Union and the United States also back the reforms. “The United
States supports the efforts of all those who have been involved in the process
of attempting to amend the current Armenian Constitution, and encourages all
parties to engage in responsible and constructive debate on this issue,” US
Ambassador to Armenia John Evans said in a statement published by Yerevan
newspapers on Saturday.

6) Parliament Chairman to Participate in State Department Program for Emerging
Leaders

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The US Embassy in Armenia said the US Department of
State
will host a series of meetings for Armenian Parliament Chairman Arthur
Baghdasarian during the Washington, DC portion of his trip to the United
States.
Baghdasarian will be in the US August 31 to September 7, as a part of the
State Department’s International Visitor Program, and will meet with
government
officials, NGO representatives, and the press.
Baghdasarian is scheduled to hold meetings with Speaker of the House of
Representatives J. Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois), Democratic National Committee
Chairman Howard Dean, and Congressmen Knollenberg (R-MI) and Pallone (D-NJ) of
the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, as well as with various
high-level
Department of State, National Security Council, US Agency for International
Development and Millennium Challenge Corporation officials.
Baghdasarian is also expected to give a presentation at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Launched in 1940, the US Department of State International Visitor Program
seeks to build mutual understanding between the United States and other
nations
through professional visits to the US for current and emerging foreign
leaders.
Over 180 current and former heads of government and state and other world
leaders in public and private sectors have participated in Program.

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