129 NGOs have been registered with the Ministry of Justice

129 NGOs have been registered with the Ministry of Justice

10-03-2007 13:13:02 – KarabakhOpen

129 NGOs have been registered with the Ministry of Justice, said the
minister of justice Robert Hairapetyan in an interview with the
Karabakh Open. The NGOs include sports federations, youth
organizations and unions of artistes. According to the minister, 9
political parties are registered in Karabakh. In 2006 the NKR
government first gave grants to NGOs for separate projects on a
competitive basis. Formerly the government used to subsidize separate
NGOs. The chair of the Public Council Mikhail Gasparyan said in an
interview with the Karabakh Open that in 2006 12 million 300 thousand
drams was provided to 14 non-governmental media and 37 million 700
thousand drams to NGOs. 31 NGOs took part in the competitions, and 24
won. In 2007 55 million drams will be allocated for non-governmental
media and organizations, including 14 million for the media and 40
million for grants to NGOs. `In late December we held 14
competitions. 37 NGOs submitted proposals for grants. 26 applicants
won,’ said Mikhail Gasparyan. There were no applications for two
grants, Reform of Local Governments and Promotion of Integration with
European Organizations. In answer to the question if there were
complaints on behalf of the NGOs, Mikhail Gasparyan said two
organizations Kachar and Compassion complain of incompetence of the
commission members. According to Mikhail Gasparyan, the question will
be discussed during the meeting of the Public Council.

EU starts bridge building

In Brussels the conference on building bridges in the Black Sea region
and the role of the EU kicked off yesterday. The conference is held in
the framework of the project Civil Society Participation in the
European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) – A Regional Approach to Conflict
Resolution. This meeting was organized by the Crisis Management
Initiative (chairman Martti Ahtisaari, ex-president of Finland). The
participants are the partners of the Institute from Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, national experts and representatives of
the civil societies of Transdnyestr, Nagorno Karabakh, Abkhazia and
South Ossetia. Nagorno Karabakh is represented by the chairman of
Stepanakert Press Club Gegham Baghdasaryan. Gegham Baghdasaryan told
KarabakhOpen from Brussels that the purpose of the meeting is to set
up an open dialogue with the EU politicians and to enlarge the civil
society network sharing the outlook and interests for peace and
stability in the Black Sea region. The expected outcome is the
creation of an EU-Black Sea expert council which is thought to be a
flexible association of local and European experts dealing with a
peace settlement of the frozen conflicts in terms of engagement of the
EU in the process of regional cooperation and dialogue. The
objectives of the meeting are: to outline a common vision of the
future region to mark the spheres in which regional cooperation and
the engagement of the EU is necessary; to provide a similar perception
of the EU policy, organizations and tools; as well as acquaintance
with the standpoint of the civil society. The participants will work
out and prepare the vision of the Black Sea region in 2020. Besides
discussions there will be meetings with officials of the EU, the
European commission, the Council of Europe, the European parliament,
as well as representatives of the transatlantic community. 08-03-2007

Lectures in different parts of the country

Stepanakert Resource Center NGO kicked off an education project in
Shushi. Janna Krikorova, Secretary General of the NKR Foreign
Ministry, member of the Caucasian Forum, delivered the first lecture
on the topic `The current state of the settlement of the Karabakh
conflict’. According to Irina Grigoryan, the administrator of the
Resource Center, about 10 lectures are foreseen this year in
Stepanakert, Shushi and Martuni. The lectures will be delivered by
outstanding politicians and experts. The project is funded by the
International Alert, a British organization. The Discussion Club of
Martuni funded by the International Alert held a round-table meeting
in the village of Kert for schoolchildren from the villages of Kert
and Sos. The participants talked about the outlook for the settlement
of the Karabakh issue, the image of the foe and the education of the
young generation. Discussions will continue in the villages of Kert
and Berdashen of Martuni region. During the round-table meetings both
internal and external political problems will be discussed, as well as
the opportunities for contact between young people of Karabakh and
Azerbaijan. A few days ago the International Alert brought 100
calendars with photographs of Armenian and Azerbaijani children. The
administrator of Stepanakert Resource Center Irina Grigoryan said the
calendars will be distributed in the regions of the republic.
08-03-2007

There is a growing gap between the publics

In the post-Soviet space, especially in the Caucasian region, a
cascade of ethnic conflicts have occurred, which resulted in hostility
between neighbor states. The civilized world tried to interfere and
use its diplomatic and financial resources to influence these
processes. However, so far there have been but diplomatic lofty talks,
and maybe sincere but fruitless efforts. There are a number of
reasons, from complicated conflicts to the clash of interests of the
great powers in the region. However, the topic of our talk is a
little different. A generation of people is rising and developing in
our region, who feel aversion towards the neighboring nations,
independent from the values they had at birth and adopted later. A few
international organizations finance joint projects for a narrow
non-governmental circle (meetings of young people, short-term
cooperation between the media), however, these have almost no effect
on the state of things. I think more serious organizations should deal
with this, which are coming up to us with democratic banners. They
ignore xenophobia which acquires different expressions, including
vandalism, and neglect the necessity to create conditions for bringing
people closer. As a result, the gap between the publics is growing
year by year, causing new clashes, and it does not seem likely to
stop. In the meantime, Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan, as well as
the other states of the region are not apartments to change because
the neighborhood is not good. Perhaps it is high time to resort to
broad popular diplomacy.

Vahram Poghosyan Leader of the youth organization of the Azat Hayrenik
Party 15-02-2007

Karabakh organization of refugees pursues compensation from Azerbaijan

The Organization of Refugees from Azerbaijan has appealed to a few
international organizations for compensation of the moral and material
damage inflicted on the refugees by the Azerbaijani side, the
correspondent of the REGNUM News Agency in Stepanakert reports. `We
wrote a letter to the CoE representative in connection with
compensation for the damage and got a reply, which is positive on the
whole, but there has been no progress yet. Hopefully, the EU is likely
to set up direct relations with Nagorno Karabakh. It may mark the
start of our cooperation with the CoE over compensation,’ said the
head of the organization Sanasar Saryan.

Independence and Security

The Open Society NGO and the Unity Youth Organization have conducted a
poll recently, and about 20 respondents said peace at any price is
important of all. The results of the same poll suggest that
independence is important for the majority. For Valery Balayan,
former chair of the Committee on Security and Defense, too
independence is important of all. `Of course, it is very difficult for
such a small country as Karabakh to be an independent state. If people
stopped believing in independence, our country would hardly last
long. We need to keep this in mind. Security through independence is a
justified goal,’ said Valery Balayan in an interview with the Karabakh
Open. The leader of the Azat Hayrenik Party, Member of Parliament
Arayik Harutiunyan thinks that independence and peace are
interrelated. `Peace without independence is impossible, and without
peace it is impossible to gain independence,’ Arayik Harutiunyan said.

People of Karabakh Want Honest President and Diplomat to Lead Them to
Independence

The analysis of the poll on the presidential election 2007

A presidential election will be held in June 2007. No person and no
political party has announced that they will run in the
election. Nevertheless, people are already discussing the possible
candidates and even mention names. The Open Society NGO and the Unity
Youth Culture and Sport Society conducted a poll from January 15 to 22
to find out which candidate people would vote for. The respondents
were offered the following questions: 1. In you opinion, is a free and
fair election possible in NKR? 2. What are the traits the president
should have? 3. What political orientation the president should have?
4. What should the standpoint of the president on the Karabakh issue
be? The respondents were also offered to mention a person they would
like to become NKR president.

300 people took part in the poll, including 150 from Stepanakert, 25
from the regions of Askeran, Martuni, Martakert, Hadrut, Shushi and
Kashatagh each. 179 are female, 121 are male. Age: 131 respondents
are up to 35, 94 are 35-50, 75 are 50 and up. Education: 101
respondents have secondary and vocational education, 20 have a
Bachelor’s degree, 179 have a Master’s degree. 159 respondents are
civil servants, 63 work in non-governmental offices, 33 are students,
26 are unemployed, 19 are retired.

The results

In answer to the question if they believe in a fair and free election
in NKR, 109 out of 300 respondents said yes. 139 said no. 52 found it
difficult to answer. It is notable that in Stepanakert only 42 out of
150 respondents answered yes, 86 answered no. Respondents from Askeran
were the most optimistic ` 19 out of 25 believe that a fair election
is possible. In Shushi 10 said no, 8 are not sure the election will be
fair.

The second question referred to the traits the next president should
possess. The respondents were offered to choose three out of fifteen
answers: patriotic, honest, intellectual, independent, having will
power, incorruptible, demanding, moral, having an Armenian mentality,
brave, unbiased, charitable, flexible in diplomacy, `other’, and `I
find it difficult to answer’. Patriotic got most votes `
169. Diplomatic flexibility comes next ` 122. Intellect and honesty
got 112 votes. Incorruptibility got 89 votes, morality 63. In Askeran
21 voted for patriotism, in Hadrut 5. Meanwhile, in Hadrut 15 want to
have an honest president, and in Martakert and Shushi only 3
underlined this trait. Incorruptability is an indicator in Askeran
(14) and Hadrut (10), but not in Shushi (3). 10 respondents from
Kashatagh ticked morality as a parameter, and in Martuni only 1 person
underlined this trait.

The third question concerned the orientation of the future
president. Along which path should the president lead the country `
pro-European, pro-Russian, pro-American or generally pro-West? Should
the president conduct a complementary, a neutral or other policy? The
answers reflected all the existing tendencies. For instance, 61 voted
for a pro-European orientation, including 40 from Stepanakert, Hadrut
and Shushi gave 1 vote each for the track for Europe. 109 people
voted for a pro-Russian way, including 37 from the capital, 19 from
Hadrut, 14 from Martakert. This path is preferred by most respondents,
especially outside the capital. Only 1 out of 300 respondents voted
for a pro-American way, and 4 voted for the pro-West path. Instead,
one fifth of the respondents voted for a complementary policy. Hadrut
is against it ` no one voted for this answer. Another 29 people voted
for a neutral path of development, 15 in Stepanakert, 4 in Martakert
and Kashatagh. 7 people voted for other, 29 found it difficult to
answer.

And what should the stance of the president on the Karabakh issue be?
Several answers were offered. The results are: 1. independence of NKR
109 Stepanakert 49, Martuni 5, Askeran 18, Martakert 12, Hadrut 16,
Shushi 7, Kashatagh 2 2. unification with Armenia 56 Stepanakert 24,
Martuni 12, Askeran 1, Martakert 2, Hadrut 1, Shushi 3, Kashatagh 13
3. independence as a stage of transition to unification 82 Stepanakert
45, Martuni 6, Askeran 4, Martakert 9, Hadrut 1, Shushi 10, Kashatagh
7 4. status under the protectorate of the European and international
organizations 6 Stepanakert 4, Martuni 0, Askeran 0, Martakert 1,
Hadrut 0, Shushi 1, Kashatagh 0 5. conciliation 3 Stepanakert 3,
Martuni 0, Askeran 0, Martakert 0, Hadrut 0, Shushi 0, Kashatagh 0
6. stability at any price 9 Stepanakert 3, Martuni 0, Askeran 0,
Martakert 0, Hadrut 2, Shushi 2, Kashatagh 2 7. compromise for the
sake of peace 5 Stepanakert 3, Martuni 0, Askeran 1, Martakert 1,
Hadrut 0, Shushi 0, Kashatagh 0 8. peace at any price 19 Stepanakert
13, Martuni 2, Askeran 1, Martakert 0, Hadrut 1, Shushi 1, Kashatagh 1
9. regional economic cooperation 3 Stepanakert 1, Martuni 0, Askeran
0, Martakert 0, Hadrut 2, Shushi 0, Kashatagh 0 10. other 0 11. I find
it difficult to answer 8 Stepanakert 5, Martuni 0, Askeran 0,
Martakert 0, Hadrut 2, Shushi 1, Kashatagh 0

And finally the question on who the president should be. Since in the
period when the poll was conducted nobody stated their likelihood to
run for presidency, the respondents were offered to note the person
they would like to be president. Over 100 people wrote they could not
mention a person because they think there is nobody who deserves to be
president. Some people wrote that the president should be a person who
possesses the abovementioned traits. 117 people declined to mention a
specific person.

1. Bako Sahakyan, head of the NKR Service of State Security 34 (mostly
men aged 35 and down) 2. Ashot Ghulyan, speaker of the NKR National
Assembly 31 (mostly women aged 35 and down) 3. Masis Mayilyan, deputy
minister of foreign affairs of NKR 26 (mostly men aged 35-50)
4. Arkady Ghukasyan, NKR President 18 (both female and male, aged
35-50) 5. Robert Kocharyan, President of Armenia 16 (mostly women aged
35 and down) Seyran Ohanyan, NKR minister of defense 10 Armen
Sargsyan, leader of the ARFD-Movement 88 faction 8 Samvel Babayan,
ex-minister of defense of NKR 5 Arthur Tovmasyan, leader of the
Hayrenik faction 4 (all from Martakert) Levon Hairapetyan,
businessman, benefactor 4 (all from Stepanakert) Serge Sargsyan,
defense minister of Armenia 4 (all from Kashatagh) Karen Grigoryan,
member of parliament from Kashatagh 3 Samvel Hakobyan, NKR parliament
member 2 Vitaly Balasanyan, NKR parliament member 2 Sergey Ohanyan,
NKR parliament member 2 Arpat Avanesyan, NKR parliament member, Arthur
Aghabekyan, deputy minister of defense of Armenia, Marat Hakobjanyan,
NKR minister of urban planning, Kamo Atayan, NKR minister of education
and culture, Gegham Baghdasaryan, NKR parliament member, Ararat
Danielyan, NKR vice premier, Armen Zalinyan, NKR prosecutor general,
Bagray Yessayan, mayor of Berdzor, Samvel Karapetyan, NKR deputy
minister of defense, Arthur Mosiyan, representative of the ARFD to
Artsakh, Georgy Petrosyan, NKR minister of foreign affairs, Murad
Petrosyan, editor of the Chto Delat Newspaper, Khosrov Ohanyan, Rudik
Hyusnunts, deputy speaker of NKR National Assembly got 1 vote each.

The Open Society NGO thanks everyone who participated in the poll and
informs that the poll was conducted for a social survey and was
anonymous. 26-01-2007

Project on Protection of Rights of Former Hostages and Prisoners to Be
Launched Next Year

Yesterday the director of the Center for Civil Initiative Albert
Voskanyan held a briefing to tell about the activities of the NGO in
2006. He dwelled on their projects connected with the
penitentiaries. According to Albert Voskanyan, the organization
delivered lectures at penitentiaries, organized psychological
rehabilitation, computer classes, provided the prison libraries with
books, defended the rights of inmates who are representatives of
religious minorities. The director of the organization said, in 2007
the Center will continue its activities in all these directions. It is
notable that next year the organization will start a project on
protection of the rights and interests of former hostages and POWs.
23-12-2006

Half Population of Karabakh Feel Progress in the Country Towards
Stability and Security

The Karabakh-based Open Society NGO and the Unity Youth Sport and
Culture Organization conducted a poll to find out how the year 2006
was in the life of the people of Karabakh. 150 citizens aged 18 and
up participated in the poll, including 20 from the regions of Martuni,
Martakert, Shushi and Hadrut each, and 70 from Stepanakert. The
respondents were offered one question: `Was there progress in your
life in terms of family, political life, social state, freedoms,
stability and security in 2006?’ 59 said there was progress in their
family life in 2006, 25 said there was little progress, 51 said
nothing changed, 15 said their state became worse. 33 out of 150
respondents said there was progress in their social state in 2006, 39
said `a little’, the social state of 62 did not change, 16 said their
social state became worse. 37 think there was progress in the
political life of the country in 2006, 37 said there was little
progress, 73 think nothing changed in the political life, and 3 said
the state became worse. In answer to the question if there was
progress in connection with freedoms, 28 out of 150 respondents said
`yes’, 37 said `little’, 79 said `nothing changed’, and 6 said `it
became worse’. 43 out of 150 respondents think in 2006 there was
progress towards stability and security, 32 think there was little
progress, 60 think there was no progress, and 5 think the situation
has become worse. The results of the poll suggest that in 2006 for
most people in Karabakh there was no progress in the main spheres of
life. In addition, although there are a number of positive replies to
questions regarding family life, there is more dissatisfaction with
freedoms and political stability. The situation is calm in Martuni. In
Martakert, which has not been reconstructed after the war yet, people
are dissatisfied with the level of security. In Shushi and Hadrut,
where the ruling regime is much more evident, people complain of few
freedoms, and even say the situation has become worse. In Stepanakert,
as usual, more people voiced their protest. 23-12-2006

A New Step Towards Future?

The EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Peter Semneby
made a number of important statements. It is not known whether he made
similar statements in Baku where he visited before Yerevan. At least
the Azerbaijani media preferred not to speak about it. Now about
news. First, Peter Semneby met with NKR President Arkady
Ghukasyan. Although they met in Yerevan, not in Stepanakert, he noted
that in late January he would visit Karabakh. The meeting itself is
not nonsense, it is interesting that the tone of statements on
Karabakh by European officials has changed. It is also notable that
the tone changed after a series of statements on the rejection of the
outcome of the referendum in Karabakh. By the way, Semneby advised not
to perceive these statements as rejection of the democratic track
taken by the people of Karabakh. In other words, these were
statements that were to be made. Not more. Second, Semneby stated
that the EU is likely to work directly with Nagorno Karabakh, although
he did not specify in which spheres. Most probably, these will be the
economic and civil spheres. This is news because so far the
international organizations have vigorously rejected direct contact
with Karabakh. Even in humanitarian aid no international
organization, including the UN supported Karabakh. Moreover, the
refugees from Azerbaijan who settled down in Karabakh did not get aid
from the international organizations set up for this purpose, which
have been supporting the Azerbaijani refugees for already 15 years.
Karabakh did not get economic support. Moreover, the stipulation of
lending and grants to Armenia from international organizations was to
spend these funds in the territory of Armenia. Karabakh was not
`taken into account’ even in supporting the establishment of civil
society. It is not a secret that Western foundations, which are often
financed by the governments of great powers, fund the `development of
democracy and civil society’ in countries they are interested
in. Besides their purpose, these funds are also good financial support
for these countries. These funds are spent to support the
intelligentsia, the independent media and pluralism. The best example
of the use of these funds in perhaps Georgia, where hundreds of
offices of foreign foundations and organizations were set up employing
hundreds of thousands of Georgian citizens for a rather big salary
and, what is more important, relations with the world. The window for
Karabakh was opened in 2002 when the European countries decided to set
up the Consortium to seek ways of settlement. The Consortium, financed
by the British government, included four organizations. Two of them,
the Conciliation Resources and the International Alert implemented a
series of important projects in Karabakh. The support of the
international community to Karabakh was confined to this. However, the
duration of the Consortium has expired (although we have heard that it
was prolonged for another year), and the Europeans are considering
taking more serious efforts. And Semneby’s statement shows that these
efforts are already being prepared. The standpoint of the Armenian
Diaspora on support to Karabakh is interesting; it gives considerable
humanitarian and economic support to Karabakh but does not interfere
with the internal policies, civil and other processes in Karabakh.
Therefore, the Diaspora has a great economic contribution but in terms
of democracy there is no support. The Diaspora does not finance
independent media, non-charity NGOs and institutions for survey of
public opinion in Karabakh. The statement of Peter Semneby on direct
contact with Karabakh becomes highly important against this
background, especially if it involves the energy sector and transport.
Ostensibly, the statement of the EU representative is closely related
to the statement of the Armenian president Robert Kocharyan that the
talks will be stopped in the period of the Armenian parliamentary
election. After the Armenian election the electoral campaign starts in
Karabakh, then the presidential election in Armenia. Then the election
will be coming up in Azerbaijan. In other words, the talks will stop
for two or three years. And the EU decided to make use of this
time. This perfectly suits pragmatic Europeans. 19-12-2006

Will Consortium Initiative’s Contribution to Karabakh Increase?

Catherine Barns, strategic adviser to the Consortium Initiative, has
recently met with the NKR government officials, who commended the work
of the Consortium.

The Consortium Initiative was set up three years ago to seek ways of
settlement of the Karabakh conflict. It is financed by the British
government. We have learned that the CI will work for another three
years. The CI includes four organizations, which attend to a separate
strand of work: LINKS works on the level of political dialogue,
Conciliation Resourses addresses the media, International Alert
focuses on civil society work and Catholic Relief Services addresses
issues of conflict sensitivity and grassroots engagement. We have
learned that the latter is no longer a member of the Consortium
Initiative.

The presence of the Consortium would not be that tangible if other
international organizations worked in Karabakh, as well as other
places in the region. Karabakh is closed for the international
organizations. And only the Consortium Initiative has a `permit’ to
work in Karabakh, though along with Azerbaijan. Thanks to the CI a
number of important projects were launched in Karabakh. Conciliation
Resources set up the Demo newspaper, which is one of the most popular
ones. A radio project is implemented, the purpose of which is to
record stories of ordinary people. Also a TV project has been
launched, documentary films are made, and a production studio was set
up.

International Alert set up Resource Centers for NGOs in Yerevan, Baku
and Stepanakert, which carried out considerable
`enlightenment’. Namely, it enabled the Stepanakert center to expand
its activities, go to the regions and restore the tradition of public
debates on common problems in Karabakh.

For LINKS, it cannot be considered effective in Karabakh. At least
because the NKR members of parliament were not invited to the meetings
of the parliamentarians of Armenia and Azerbaijan organized by LINKS.

We have learned that the CI is starting to deal with a new strand `
European. Apparently, the so-called international community has
decided that the best settlement of the Karabakh conflict can be
reached in the framework of integration of the South Caucasus with
Europe.

One way or another, projects are already considered which will enable
the civil society of Karabakh to become closer to the Western values.
06-11-2006

Young People In Karabakh Think Long-Term Business Loans and Mortgage
Loans Will Save Them

Recently a conference of young people from all over Karabakh has been
held in Stepanakert, which adopted a statement addressed to the
relevant organizations in the country and benefactors.

The statement highlights the steps, which can improve the state of the
young people.

First, the participants of the conference proposed setting up a youth
foundation with a special focus on rural young people. Most young
people leave villages because they do not have a possibility to buy a
house and to set up their business. Moreover, with the post-war gender
statistics 47 to 53 most young people prefer not to marry. Therefore,
it is of great importance to provide long-term loans to young people
to set up a business and mortgage loans to buy a house. The
participants of the conference think that the government should work
out a policy on providing young families with apartments. The approach
of the government towards the manpower policy is also important. The
participants of the conference think that young specialists should be
preferred. It is also necessary to have more young people engaged in
small and medium-sized enterprises. Special emphasis was laid on the
necessity to battle arbitrariness in the republic maternity
hospital. The participants of the conference think that this might
stimulate the birth rate in the country. 26-10-2006

ARS Launches New Project in Karabakh

`We are going to start a new project to aid students, children of the
killed freedom fighters. Our sponsors will pay for their studies at
universities,’ said Nelly Ghulyan, the head of the Karabakh branch of
the Armenian Relief Society.

The ARF was founded in 1910 by the ARF Dashnaktsutyun (the
headquarters is in the United States). It has been working in Karabakh
since 1989. The ARS is a women’s organization, and only women above 18
can become members of the ARS.

Currently, the Artsakh office of the ARS is implementing two big
projects. One of them is a project of nursery schools, the other is a
project of aid to orphan children. The children of the killed freedom
fighters above 18 get 120 dollars. In the framework of this project
508 thousand dollars was distributed in 2005. As to the project of the
nursery schools, Nelly Ghulyan says the first nursery school of the
ARS was opened in 1998, including for the children of the killed
soldiers. In total, 500 children go to the ARS nursery schools.
26-10-2006

Are the Media Real Power?

A round table meeting was held in Stepanakert on Friday by the Press
Club of Stepanakert in cooperation with Article 19.

Article 19 is one of the first international organizations which
started working with Karabakh directly. In the framework of a three
`year joint project civil campaigns for access to information and a
talk-show were organized, several books were published, performances
and other events were held. All these initiatives were meant to raise
awareness among people of their right to get information.

The representative of Article 19 Anush Bagheyan said her organization
would like to assess the advantages of the project for the people of
Karabakh and to find out what else the organization can do.

The president of the Press Club Gegham Baghdasaryan said there is
obvious progress in the sphere of freedom of speech over the past few
years, but there are obstacles against applying the legislation. In
particular, the institution of independent press is not established
yet, the mass media do not affect the policies of the
government. Besides, the government is pursuing a line of neglecting
the facts published in the media. As to access to information, in
Karabakh there is no tradition to sue someone who refuses to give
information.

Kim Gabrielyan, the chair of the Union of Journalists of Artsakh said
the readers are passive, and the people living in rural areas do not
have access to the media at all. Naira Hairumyan, the coordinator of
the Karabakh Open, pointed to the fact that after the adoption of the
law on television and radio and the law on telecommunication, no
agency was set up which would grant licenses and distribute frequency
channels. It was emphasized that over the past decade the parliament
has been designing a Web site and has not finished yet. The greatest
obstacle, however, is the psychological barrier, the participants
say. The authorities think they are not obliged to provide information
on their activities, and the citizens think that they do not have the
right to ` disturb’ the authorities with their curiosity. The
journalists accused first of all the journalists that the fourth power
is not active. They pointed to insufficient consistency in their work,
most of them are not interested in getting information, as well as low
professionalism. The lawyer of the National Assembly Kamo Kocharyan
said in Karabakh the sphere of information is regulated by the law on
television and radio, the law on telecommunication, the law on
advertisement, the law on copyright and allied rights and the law on
the freedom of information. Member of Parliament Garik Grigoryan said
although the laws were adopted, the mechanisms of their application
have not been worked out yet. He informed that a group of members of
parliament is likely to propose setting up a national committee for
distributing frequencies. Karabakh Open 14-10-2006

NKR Faces Necessity for Fundamental Reforms

Open Society NGO and Stepanakert Press Club conducted a survey among
experts September 21 to 28 on home and foreign political issues. The
questionnaires were sent out to 21 experts, who are well aware of the
internal political life in Artsakh and regularly express their opinion
in the media. Only 16 agreed to answer the questions.

We sent the questionnaires to Vahram Atanesyan, Davit Babayan, Vahan
Badasyan, Vahram Balayan, Valeri Balayan, Gegham Baghdasaryan, Gagik
Baghunts, Alexander Grigoryan, Arthur Tovmasyan, Davit Karabegyan,
Haykazn Ghahriyan, Arman Melikyan, Maxim Mirzoyan, Igor Muradyan,
Sergey Shakaryants, Murad Petrosyan, Gagik Petrosyan, Manvel Sargsyan,
Ashot Sargsyan, Sergey Kalantaryan and Karen Ohanjanyan.

Alexander Grigoryan, Davit Babayan, Arthur Tovmasyan, Maxim Mirzoyan
and Arman Melikyan refused to take part in the survey for different
reasons, including lack of time, health, standpoint, etc.

1. Presidential Election 2007

The experts were asked to name a presidential candidate. Four experts
named Bako Sahakyan and Masis Mayilyan each, deputy foreign
minister. Three experts named Arkady Ghukasyan. Armen Sargsyan got 2
votes, Samvel Babayan, Igor Muradyan and Nerses Ohanjanyan got 1 vote
each.

Moreover, one of the experts said the present president is
irreplaceable, which is not an advantage but a disadvantage, in his
opinion. He said unfortunately the political culture in NKR is not so
developed as to enable someone make a serious bid for presidency, and
according to him this is the fault of the present government.

Five experts did not name any candidate: one has not decided yet, two
do not know worthy candidates, the fourth said he cannot name anyone
unless this question is discussed at the meeting of his political
party, and the fifth said the question is related to the settlement of
the Karabakh issue because, according to him, a fair settlement
depends on the internal transformation in our country and the state of
our society. `Even if it is the present president, what difference
will it make? The sources may be different, but the water is the same,
and the problem is to quench thirst,’ he wrote. He thinks that a
reform of governance is necessary, and the one who will succeed in
bringing it into being will manage to bring people together. In case
of such developments, the expert thinks it is pointless to worry about
breaking the law because people have the right to change every old law
for the sake of such a purpose.

In this context, one of the experts, who did not name any candidate,
said it would be a `compromise’ to name one of the professional
military figures, and another expert, who says there is not a leader,
offers to hold real parliamentary elections (not a suspicious contest
of political and financial forces), elect people who are worthy and
able to settle the urgent problems of our society, and as a result a
parliamentary republic will be created.

Seven experts think Arkady Ghukasyan will not run a third term, and
five think this is absolutely possible. One expert thinks that the
president will not take unconstitutional steps, which means the third
term is possible if the draft Constitution provides for it. Another
respondent also did not exclude the possibility of the third term.

Most experts, including those who say Ghukasyan may run a third term,
have an absolutely negative opinion on such a step. Moreover, one
expert says the parliament and government formed by this president
should quit as well.

In total, 12 experts assessed the third term of Ghukasyan negatively,
4 positively.

2. Constitution

The next question we offered to the experts was if the draft
Constitution guarantees the development of the country and democratic
reforms. Five experts said no, two said yes, three experts said it
needs more elaboration, one said partly and one said it is a step
forward but it has no prospects.

As for the reason of expediting the adoption of the Constitution,
seven experts pointed to the presidential election and reproduction of
this government, two experts said external pressure, three said the
settlement of the Karabakh conflict, one pointed to personal and clan
interests, one said after the parliamentary election the political
sphere is going through a period of establishment. One expert found it
difficult to answer, and the second did not answer to the point.

3. Karabakh Settlement

We asked the experts to assess the role of NKR in the political
settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

One expert said NKR has an important role, one said negative, one said
Karabakh is temporizing, seven experts say Karabakh does not have a
role, one characterized it as unsatisfactory, one expert said Karabakh
is on the offensive, one described the role of NKR as weak.

One expert said the role of NKR in the settlement of the conflict and
in the regional politics totally depends on its internal state,
strength and organization. The second expert said, `At some time NKR
will by all means sit at the table of negotiations. It is more
important who will represent us to the talks. Will we manage to build
a society, which will be dignified and reliable in any situation, or
will we preserve what we have now ` a sick, corrupt, polarized
society? The answer to this question depends on us.’

The next question was what the role of the Karabakh factor in the
settlement and regional policies should be.

All the experts think that NKR can and must have a more serious and
underlying role.

At the same time, some experts think only the new government, elected
in a democratic way, will be able to solve this question. One of the
experts also said that `Armenia’s current role of a buffer should be
used with utmost effectiveness to prepare NKR for the talks over
settlement, because NKR is not ready, in fact.’

4. Armenia Foundation

We asked the experts if in their opinion Armenia Foundation fulfills
its mission, and if not, we asked them to offer ideas.

One expert said yes, one said it has a number of shortcomings, ten
experts said no, two said partly, one said it has become obsolete. One
expert found it difficult to answer.

With regard to the cause of controversies between the leadership of
the Foundation and the NKR government three experts said they did not
know, four said home political relations, four said personal
relations, two experts said differing perceptions of priorities, one
pointed to the attempt to avoid accountability for bad performance,
one said relations between Armenia, NKR and the leadership of the
foundation. One expert did not answer to the point. 09-10-2006

Democracy is Government Policy Influenced by Public Opinion

The core of democracy is public control over the activities of the
government and the influence of the public opinion on the government
policies. In addition, democracy works when these principles are not
just declared but concrete mechanisms are worked out to bring into
being these principles. A number of ways were invented in the world to
enable a common citizen to take part in governance. The most popular
way is elections. A person votes for a candidate for the latter to
defend their interests on a government level. This is the essence of
elections. Elections are not for providing a good man with a job for
five years.

So, how can a person control the activities of a member of parliament
and make sure that the member of parliament protects his interests?
With our present laws, no way. Therefore, there are tried-out methods
in the world, namely regular meetings with constituencies, survey of
public opinion and activities based on the public opinion. There is
also the institution of the recall of the member of parliament, which
is applied as a last resort.

Several years ago all these institutions were eliminated. At least,
the law on the National Assembly does not provide for the recall and
obligatory meetings with voters. The draft Constitution does not
contain such provisions either. In answer to our question what
determined such privileges for members of parliament, one of them said
since people elected the person, they must trust him and let him work
all the five years. We disagree and we think that without these
institutions a member of parliament cannot fulfill his mission, namely
defend the rights and interests of voters, and his activities fully
depend on his conscience. The Open Society organization proposed that
the Task Force on Constitution include these points in the draft.

There is also another mechanism, enabling the society to influence the
government policies ` freedom of _expression. Democracy means that
everyone is free to tell their opinion and information to the public
and the government. But this is meaningful only in case the government
is obliged to react to every opinion and information, which is
significant for the public, and build its policy on the basis of this
opinion. Currently, of course, we are free to speak, propose ideas and
even write about state crimes. However, this has no influence on the
policies of the government. The law does not oblige the government to
react to published facts on crime and breaking of laws, and they do
not even sue the authors for libel. It is set down in one of the laws
that information can be sufficient ground for legal action. This does
not mean, however, that it must become ground. Again everything
depends on subjectivity.

Neglect of the public opinion has become a form of behavior of a
number of statesmen thanks to certain politicians, who are especially
negligent of public opinion. Open Society proposed including the point
on obligatory reaction of the relevant government agencies to
published facts and ideas in the basic law of the country. Reaction is
not accepting everything but setting out to discuss and
understand. This is genuine democracy.

Karabakh Open 04-10-2006

Karabakh Human Rights Defender and Peace Week in Amsterdam

Karen Ohanjanyan, the coordination of the Karabakh committee of the
Helsinki Initiative 92 informed from Amsterdam that September 16 to 24
the annual Peace Week is held in the Netherlands. Almost the entire
society of the Netherlands becomes involved in the debates on the
problems of settlement of conflicts all over the world, as well as
conflicts inside the country. During the Peace Week the society seeks
approaches to the developments in the world and the Netherlands, and
the government mostly accepts the recommendations worked out during
this civil campaign.

This is the third time Karen Ohanjanyan takes part in the Peace
Week. This time is special, although. The Dutch Wild Gesen
organization confirmed the project of the Karabakh committee of the
Helsinki Initiative 92 to build a House of Peace in Stepanakert and
Gyandja. The project will be funded by donations of the Dutch during
the Peace Week.

This year’s Peace Week is also different because the Dutch are
increasingly worried about the growing sectarian tensions, which
became apparent after the murder of the famous Dutch filmmaker Van
Gogh.

Karen Ohanjanyan said the organizers of the campaign asked him to make
speeches in different towns of Holland to convey to the Dutch through
the model of the Karabakh conflict what intolerance in the society may
lead to.

The organizers of the Peace Week are the Dutch Pax Christi and IKV.
19-09-2006

AGBU Continues Work in Norashen

There are 135 people in the village of Norashen (35
households). According to the acting mayor of the village Armine
Avetisyan, some families do not have their own house yet and are
living in different buildings they have modified somehow. 22 families
already have their own houses, which were built on the funding of the
Armenian General Benevolent Union.

The resettlement of the village started in 2001, when the AGBU started
its activities in Artsakh. The French branch of this organization
funded the repair of 29 houses. 22 families already live there, the
nursery school and the medical station were also repaired. The people
of the village were provided with cattle, seeds, a tractor was bought
for the village.

The AGBU will continue implementing projects in Norashen, said the
honorary member of the AGBU Levon Kebabjyan, who visited the village
several days ago for the ceremony of opening of the school, built on
the funding of the AGBU.

The people of Norashen work the land and breed cattle. The results
would be amazing but water is a real problem. The acting mayor of the
village says the upper part of the village gets some water, the lower
part does not.

There is another problem. The school is eight years, and children do
not attend high school because the closest school is in the center of
the region.

To solve the problem of water, they decided to dig an artesian well,
however, no decision was made on how to solve the problem of high
school. 15-09-2006

In Defense of Baptist Who Does Not Believe in Military Service

The director of the Civic Action Center Albert Voskanyan wrote a
letter to NKR President Arkady Ghukasyan. The letter runs:

Mr. President,

After 9 years of military service, on September 5, 2005 Gagik David
Mirzoyan, the village of Chailu, Martakert region, NKR, 1986, was
sentenced to 1 year of imprisonment for refusing to take the military
oath under Article 364 Point 1 of the Criminal Code of NKR.

Gagik Mirzoyan, who is a follower of the Protestant religious
organization Evangelist Christians ` Baptists says the Bible forbids
taking an oath. He is ready to continue military service in the armed
forces of NKR without taking an oath.

A complicated situation occurs, almost a deadlock ` after having
served his sentence, the convict will be drafted again and will again
refuse to take the oath although he is ready to serve in the army, and
will again be convicted, this time as a recidivist.

Honoring the laws of the republic, we beg leniency for Gagik Mirzoyan,
and considering his willingness to serve in the army (the members of
our organization became convinced of this in a regular talk to the
convict during the monitoring of the prison of the Police of NKR),
release him from criminal liability in the future and give him a
chance to continue his military service. We also ask to take into
consideration the state of the family of Mirzoyan. His father left the
family long ago and went to Russia, his teenage sister does not hear
and speak, his mother also sustains his little brother.

We appeal to your wisdom and mercy. We think that such an attitude to
the convict will produce an educational effect and will allow him to
become a good citizen of our country.

Respectfully and full of hope for understanding,

Stepanakert Nagorno Karabakh Republic August 21, 2006

Even Mafia Has Its Rules

In order to know how to conduct policies, the leadership must know
what problems worry people. Monitoring, public debates, public
discussions are necessary. These are not attended to, and they can
abstain from doing politics, explaining that people have no problems.

In the framework of the project Involvement implemented by the
Resource Center of Stepanakert, funded by International Alert, Open
Society NGO implements the project Life in Person: stories of common
people are regularly published on the web site KarabakhOpen.com. And
like a picture is made of separate strokes of the brush, these stories
make up the general picture of life in Karabakh.

The organization decided to round up these people ` the heroes of
these stories ` at a round-table meeting. People were invited to the
Resource Center, who live their own lives and do not take part in
public processes. Their ideas, however, amaze by their civil reason.

Razmik from Sardarashen stated that everything would be good if they
first solved prime problems. For instance, there is no water in their
village, neither for drinking, nor for irrigation. How can people live
without water?

Ms. Sarah lives in the village of Jivani. She moved to Karabakh from
Javakheti. A group of Georgian Armenians settled in this village of
Karabakh. However, it is the sixth year they have been unable to
solve their problem of passports. They arrived from Georgia with
Soviet passports, for citizenship of Karabakh they demand that they
renounce Georgian citizenship, which they do not have. They do not
know what they can do.

Nuneh is from Stepanakert. She has sick children. She told that for
several years doctors could not diagnose the disease and did a wrong
treatment. She even applied to the president but in vain.

Astghik from the village of Hovtashen thinks that the government
conducts a wrong policy on immigrants to Karabakh. Her family arrived
from Gyumri, Armenia. They signed an agreement with the authorities
of Karabakh, but none of the points of this agreement are implemented,
they say. `A dictatorship would be better than this democracy. A
dictatorship, even mafia has definite laws, rules of the game. There
are no rules now, everyone lives the way they want,’ it was stated
during the round-table meeting. Although, not everyone agrees to this.

Vardan from Haterk told with an aching heart that not a single walnut
tree remains in the forest near his village. `Look, I understand that
trees are cut. But it is possible to plant new ones, isn’t it?’ he
said.

`No, at any rate we are not the masters of our lives. We do not
possess levers of power in the government. We fail to use the most
effective means ` elections. Starting from everyday interests, we
agree to elect people who fail to defend our interests,’ it was said
during the round-table meeting. We protest but we cannot influence the
activity of the government. This is the most dangerous phenomenon in
Karabakh today. The villagers turn to the head of the community asking
to conduct a general meeting, but he ignores.

Ashot from the village of Jivani thinks that it is even good when
there is not a ruling party, which directs the lives of people. `It is
difficult to make a conscious person to do something that he does not
want to do. The higher his consciousness is, the easier it will be for
us to rule our country,’ said Ashot. He thinks that presently
everyday chores dominate consciousness; maybe if the quality of life
improves, consciousness will improve too.

Dima goes to school in Stepanakert. His father studied in one of the
military academies in Saint Petersburg, and he knows how life in big
cities is like. The ten-year-old boy naturally wonders why there is
not a normal park in Stepanakert with entertainments. Besides, he does
not like that their teachers do not take them to museums. In
St. Petersburg they took us somewhere almost every week, here I have
not seen anything yet, says Dima.

Nuneh is also from Stepanakert. She thinks very little attention is
paid to education in Karabakh.

By the end of the round-table meeting Ashot asked sponsors through our
website: dear rich people, come to see the village of Jivani. And you
will see that the village school is at its last gasp. Whereas, a lot
of good people live in the village. 11-08-2006

Armenian Scouts from Iran and Karabakh to Gather in Shushi

We learned from Haik’s Generation NGO that 70 members of the Armenian
sport and culture union Raffi in Tehran arrived in Karabakh on August
8 to take part in the gathering of scouts in Shushi August 8 to 14.

This is the second gathering organized by Raffi and Haik’s Generation
in Karabakh.

There is an arrangement that the Iranian Armenian organization will
establish a Scout Association in Artsakh and build a youth camp in
Shushi.

In Shushi they live in tents. Over 60 young people from Yerevan,
Kapan, Stepanakert and Shushi take part in this event. 11-08-2006

Azerbaijani Experts in Stepanakert

On July 27-30, a conference of experts on the missing was held in
Stepanakert, which was organized by the Karabakh committee of Helsinki
Initiative 92 in the framework of the project of Yellow Tulips and
financed by the World Interchurch Council.

Experts from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, as well the
representatives of international organizations accredited to NKR
participated in the conference. During the conference reports were
made on the humanitarian aspect of the problem of the missing, the
attitude of government agencies towards the problem of the missing,
the law and the existing national mechanisms on human rights in
connection with the question of the missing, the international
humanitarian law and human right laws in connection with the missing
soldiers/civilians in the South Caucasus, the role of the media in the
settlement of the problem of the missing, the psychological aspect of
settlement of the problem for the relatives of the missing. The
coordinator of the Helsinki Civil Assembly Arzu Abdullayeva told the
history of collaboration of the HCA over the problem of the missing.

The Azerbaijani delegation met with President Arkady Ghukasyan. The
guests also visited Shushi and Gandzassar. 03-08-2006

Business, Youth and Peace Building

The public and cultural center Tradition was set up in 2002. The
purpose of this organization is integration of young people with the
public and political life of the country. In Karabakh Tradition
cooperates with almost all the active NGOs. The international partner
of the organization is International Alert. In the beginning Tradition
started working with teenagers (14-16 years). Summer camps were
organized all over the country, funded by local benefactors. Valery
Balayan, chair of the organization, says children passed a kind of
training aimed to acquaint teenagers with the world that is outside
Karabakh. ` We care for the future of our children. We want our
society to develop and prosper. The idea of work with teenagers
occurred because we felt constant isolation of young people from
public life in Karabakh and we tried to explain to them that the world
is bigger and it is possible to view it differently. And most
importantly, to see oneself in this world,’ said Valery Balayan in an
interview with the Karabakh Open.

The organization has opened an internet club in Hadrut. `The lifestyle
of the inhabitants of Hadrut has already changed. Now they spend more
time searching the web, in other words, they come in touch with the
world. Another internet club will be opened in the village of Togh in
the framework of Stepanakert Resource Center. Togh is a big community,
a link between the neighboring 7 villages. Therefore, we have decided
to open an internet club in Togh to help young people to break through
the isolation and start coming in touch with the world. The work in
Togh is in the final stage. Children from Togh and the neighboring
villages will learn to work on the computer free of charge. In the
evenings the club will work for customers to cover the costs,’ stated
the chair of Tradition.

Tradition also cooperates with the project Business and Conflict,
funded by International Alert.

`We are trying to promote business in Nagorno Karabakh and at the same
time influence the Karabakh society in terms of peace building. We
think that the conflict lasting for many years now must have a peace
settlement. So far we have mainly studied the state of small business,
but now we have entered a more practical sphere: we are likely to set
up a business center. We are facing two aims: favor development of
business in Nagorno Karabakh and foster peace building moods among the
public. We are already working out a project, which will enable
fulfilling both objectives.

Recently we have begun cooperating with the Armenian Zart NGO. In the
framework of the project Silk Road we took part in organizing a photo
exhibition and other events within the last week of June in
Stepanakert and Shushi,’ said Valery Balayan.

He emphasized that their organization has not encountered problems
with young people so far.

`Young people are active only if you are sincere with them. They will
respond only in this case. The problem of activity of the youth is
insincere aims of NGOs, which try to work with them,’ concluded Valery
Balayan. 18-07-2006

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