Armenian Reporter – 6/30/2007 – front section

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June 30, 2007 — From the front section

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1. A majority in the House backs Armenian Genocide resolution (by Emil Sanamyan)
* An unprecedented level of support

2. L.A. Times managing editor is out following genocide denial scandal
(by Jenny Kiljian)
* Douglas Frantz is heading to Istanbul

3. News analysis: Independent Karabakh hosts first-ever visit by
Azerbaijani official (by Emil Sanamyan)
* Does the trip herald a departure from existing Armenian-Azerbaijani tensions?

4. An experienced diplomat is to take temporary charge of the U.S.
Embassy in Yerevan (by Emil Sanamyan)

5. From Washington, in brief (by Emil Sanamyan)
* U.S.-Armenia military consultations held in Washington
* Canadian government, Swiss court stand ground on affirmation
* PBS program previews Karabakh war film

6. USAPAC’s Ross Vartian says a confident community is ready for a
broad advocacy agenda in Washington

7. International reaction to Djulfa cemetary destruction has been only
words and no action (by Simon Maghakyan)

8. National Assembly approves Armenian government’s five-year plan (by
Armen Hakobyan)
* Emphasizes business competitiveness

9. Business-university partnership helps train information technology
professionals in Armenia (by Armen Hakobyan)
* A new lab for future specialists

10. Concert at the Cascade raises AIDS awareness (by Betty Panossian-
Ter Sargssian)

11. "Not all victors are aggressors," Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian
tells Black Sea leaders
* BSEC holds 15th anniversary summit

12. Commentary: Yev Yeghev Luys ("And there was light") (by Bedross
Der Matossian)
* Reform in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem

13. Letter: Twin thrones working together?

14. Editorial: Toward regional cooperation

************************************* **************************************

1. A majority in the House backs Armenian Genocide resolution

* An unprecedented level of support

by Emil Sanamyan

WASHINGTON — As of June 29, 219 of 435 members of the House of
Representatives support House Resolution 106, which affirms the U.S.
record on the Armenian Genocide, according to the official record
maintained by the Library of Congress. A simple majority of the
members of the House is 218.

More than 20 co-sponsors signed on to the resolution in the last two
weeks, bringing the resolution this unprecedented level of support.

The resolution was introduced in late January by Representatives
Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), George Radanovich (R.-Calif.), Frank Pallone
(D.-N.J.), and Joe Knollenberg (R.-Mich.).

It was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but the
committee’s chair, Rep. Tom Lantos (D.-Calif.) has yet to bring it up
for committee consideration.

Congressional supporters and Armenian-American organizations,
including the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the
Armenian Assembly, and the U.S.-Armenia Public Affairs Committee, have
been working to gain supporters for the resolution. If a majority of
members sign onto the bill, supporters believe, Speaker Nancy Pelosi
and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer may bring the resolution directly to
the House floor, where it seems assured of passage.

Some of the Armenian community’s ardent supporters in the House have
been stepping up efforts in recent weeks. Among the many examples,
Reps. Schiff, Radanovich, Pallone, and Knollenberg have been enlisting
additional co-sponsors among their colleagues. Reps. Donald M. Payne
(D.-N.J.) and Frank R. Wolf (R.-Va.) sent around a "Dear Colleague"
letter urging members to sign on.

USAPAC has been working closely with Rep. Tim Walz (D.-Minn.),
vice-president of the Freshman Class in the House, who has been
recruiting fellow freshmen as co-sponsors.

"I am thrilled that the resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide
reached a critical mass of 218 co-sponsors today," Mr. Walz said. "As
someone who taught genocide studies, I know that we must acknowledge
genocide whenever and wherever it happens, regardless of international
politics. We must work to curtail future genocides by not only
addressing the cultural, economic, and religious factors that often
contribute to these atrocities, but also by learning from past
genocides. To learn from our past requires at a bare minimum that we
acknowledge the past, which is what this long overdue resolution will
do in the case of the Armenian genocide."

The ANCA reported on June 28 that thousands of people participated
in a call-in campaign it organized in a push this week to reach the

When the number of co-sponsors tipped into a majority, Rep. Schiff
said: "In gaining 218 cosponsors, we have demonstrated that a majority
of the House strongly supports recognizing the facts of the Armenian
Genocide. While there are still survivors left, we feel a great sense
of urgency in calling attention to the attempted murder of an entire
people. Our failure to acknowledge these dark chapters of history
prevents us from taking more effective action against ongoing
genocides, like Darfur."

Earlier, at the 200 co-sponsors mark, Rep. Schiff had also called
recognition of the Genocide "a moral imperative."

******************************* ********************************************

2. L.A. Times managing editor is out following genocide denial scandal

* Douglas Frantz is heading to Istanbul

by Jenny Kiljian

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Times on Thursday announced that
Managing Editor Douglas Frantz had resigned his post effective July 6.
Mr. Frantz’ resignation comes amidst intense scrutiny of his decision
in April to block a news story about the Armenian Genocide resolutions
in Congress by star reporter Mark Arax and replace it with a
different, controversial story.

"I felt like I had done as much as I could in this job," Mr. Frantz
told the Los Angeles Times. His next job will take him to Istanbul as
the Wall Street Journal’s Middle East Bureau chief. He was Istanbul
Bureau chief for the New York Times and later an Istanbul-based
investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times before taking on his
senior post in Los Angeles. "This is a great newspaper filled with
great people. I’m sure it will continue to pursue excellence in
journalism. I’m sorry I won’t be around."

The publisher and editor of the Los Angeles Times did not
immediately return calls asking for comment.

* Mark Arax receives settlement

The Fresno Bee on June 19 reported that Mark Arax had left the Los
Angeles Times on June 16. Mr. Arax’s attorney Warren Paboojian told
the Bee that Mr. Arax and the Times "reached a settlement to forestall
a lawsuit alleging defamation and discrimination." Mr. Arax has not
commented on the terms because of a confidentiality agreement.

The controversy started with a story Mr. Arax wrote in April about
the Armenian Genocide resolutions in Congress.

In memos leaked to the online political journal, Mr.
Frantz said Mr. Arax, an Armenian-American, could no longer write
about the Armenian Genocide because he had taken a position on the

Mr. Arax and five other Los Angeles Times reporters — Greg
Krikorian, Robin Abcarian, Ralph Vartabedian, Henry Weinstein, and
Chuck Philips — had signed an internal memo reminding editors that
Times policy was to refer to the Armenian massacres in Turkey as
genocide, without qualifying it as "alleged."

Mr. Frantz claimed that he put a hold on the story "because of
concerns that the reporter had expressed personal views about the
topic in a public manner and therefore was not a disinterested party,
which is required by our ethics guidelines, and because the reporter
and an editor had gone outside the normal procedures for compiling and
editing articles. My actions were based solely on the journalistic
ethics and standards that we follow to ensure that readers of Times
news coverage are not affected by the personal views of our reporters
and editors," according to an email he sent to

In response, Mr. Arax sent an email to his colleagues at the Los
Angeles Times, which was also published on, in which he
maintained, "What the six of us did wasn’t a public display. We didn’t
grab a bullhorn in one hand and a petition in the other and take to
the corner of First and Spring. What we did we did inside the paper as
loyal employees who care deeply about the Times. In no way should the
carrying out of this duty preclude us from writing about the Armenian
genocide now or in the future."

Mr. Arax further demanded a public apology from Mr. Frantz. No
apology was forthcoming.

Instead of Mr. Arax’s article, the Times on April 21 published a
story by Rich Simon under the headline, "Armenian Genocide Resolution
Far from Certain." According to an editorial in the April 28 edition
of this newspaper, "the article simply provides a forum for opponents
of the resolution to explain why they believe it should not be

Mr. Frantz’s actions came as a surprise to the Armenian-American
community, since the Times has been a strong supporter and advocate of
the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Harut Sassounian, publisher of the Los Angeles-based California
Courier, broke the story in his syndicated column and called for the
managing editor’s dismissal. Mr. Sassounian and Armenian community
leaders met with Los Angeles Times executives to work toward a

Mr. Sassounian told the Armenian Reporter he was "very pleased" that
Mr. Frantz had left the Times, "because he had made a serious error
and all the excuses he used for justifying his reasons for blocking
Mark Arax’s article were proven to be baseless by an internal

"The only excuse was that Douglas Frantz was a Turcophile and a
genocide denialist, and people like that should not be working in the
field of journalism — let alone at the highest echelons of the Los
Angeles Times," Mr. Sassounian continued.

"I’m pleased that the story, which started with my column in the
California Courier, ended up with the broad support of the community
and various organizations, including the Armenian National Committee
of America and the Western Diocese of the United States, as well as
the thousands of people in the United States and abroad who sent
letters to the Los Angeles Times executives. This all came to the
positive result that we had demanded — the dismissal of Douglas

"The Wall Street Journal announced today that Douglas Frantz would
be its bureau chief in Istanbul. This is the proper place for Douglas
Frantz — both at the Wall Street Journal and Istanbul. First, because
the Wall Street Journal is, as I have said, more pro-Turkish than the
Turkish Daily News and, second, because Douglas Frantz is probably
more comfortable in Istanbul, where his heart and mind have always
been. I’m sure he feels more comfortable working in Istanbul than he
did in Los Angeles," Mr. Sassounian concluded.

************************************** *************************************

3. News analysis: Independent Karabakh hosts first-ever visit by
Azerbaijani official

* Does the trip herald a departure from existing Armenian-Azerbaijani tensions?

by Emil Sanamyan

WASHINGTON — In a striking departure from longstanding policy,
Azerbaijan sent a delegation to Nagorno-Karabakh on June 28. The
delegation was received by President Arkady Ghoukassian. The visit
became a sensation in Azerbaijan, where the public has long been
banned from visits to Karabakh and discouraged from any contacts with
ethnic Armenians in general.

The group, comprising Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Russia Polad
Bul-Bul-ogly and heads of major state institutions, then proceeded to
Yerevan for a meeting with the president of Armenia. Later on the same
day, a similarly composed Armenian delegation went to Baku to meet the
president of Azerbaijan.

At a press conference on June 29, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian
of Armenia said that the visit was agreed upon during the most recent
meeting between Presidents Robert Kocharian and Ilham Aliyev in Saint
Petersburg on June 10.

But both the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments kept the plan
secret until after the Azerbaijani delegation left Stepanakert.

ArmInfo reports that in welcoming the visitors, NKR President
Ghoukassian said, "How can we settle a conflict without speaking [with
each other]? When we are told [by Azerbaijan] ‘You must do this, or we
will go to war with you,’ this does contribute to mutual trust, but in
fact has the opposite effect. We should proceed from international
standards of settling problems."

Mr. Bul-Bul-ogly told journalists that the visit aimed at building
that missing trust. "Our generation lived together, at least in the
Soviet Union, and not everything was so bad, as is presented today,"
the Regnum news agency quoted him as saying. "Our generation knows one
another, and while we are still around, we need to develop a dialogue,
contacts, openly express our opinions, find ways out, compromises."

Mr. Bul-bul-ogly added that there is a need for more contacts
between journalists, parliament members, and other representatives.
"We need to pick people who can communicate with each other in a
tolerant way, express their views, and look for mutual interests,
those opportunities that serve to resolve the crisis."

Before this visit, no Azerbaijani official had ever made a public
visit to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan had refused to
engage in confidence-building measures with either Armenia or

As a matter of policy, ethnic Armenians, no matter their citizenship
or political views, are still barred from entering Azerbaijan. One
Azerbaijani official recently suggested legally banning all
Azerbaijani citizens from visiting Armenia or Karabakh.

Even individual Azerbaijanis who have gone to Karabakh have been
harassed as "traitors." An Azerbaijani journalist, Eynullah
Fatullayev, who visited Karabakh in early 2005 was imprisoned earlier
this year on charges related to an article he wrote after his visit.

Dispatching an official delegation to "build bridges" in Karabakh is
a significant departure from this policy, although it is yet unclear
if it will lead to a more positive tone in the Armenian-Azerbaijani

In addition to being his country’s ambassador to Russia, Mr.
Bul-bul-ogly is widely recognized in Azerbaijan. He is a son of a
locally reknowned Azerbaijani folkloric singer (whose grave in Shushi
Mr. Bul-bul-ogly reportedly visited during the trip), and himself
achieved celebrity status as a singer and actor in the 1970s and 80s.
>From 1988 to 2006 he was minister of culture.

The visit was met with incredulity in the Azerbaijani media, with
Zerkalo, one of the better known local newspapers, leading with a
headline "Shock!" the next day.

Vafa Gulizade, a top advisor to the late President Heydar Aliyev,
condemned the visit as "an unacceptable step."

Other commentators see President Aliyev following the example of
Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili, who has adopted more
conciliatory rhetoric toward breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and
Abkhazia. They see the visit as an effort to placate international
mediators long annoyed with Mr. Aliyev’s war mongering, while making
Armenians more willing to discuss unilateral compromises.

Yet other Azerbaijani commentators suggested that President Aliyev’s
war threats have always been hollow. With official talks essentially
stalled, these commentators believe that Mr. Aliyev is looking for a
new policy that would provide an excuse both not to deliver on the
threats and not commit to unpopular compromises.

Whatever the original intention, this visit can have a positive
impact on the mutual climate and lead to more dialogue and possibly
even some mutual confidence-building.

**************************** ***********************************************

4 . An experienced diplomat is to take temporary charge of the U.S.
Embassy in Yerevan

by Emil Sanamyan

WASHINGTON — The State Department has dispatched a veteran U.S.
diplomat to lead the Embassy in Yerevan for the next few months as the
acting chief of mission is preparing to depart. Ambassador Rudolf
Perina will be in Armenia not as ambassador but as chargé d’affaires
ad interim.

Amb. Perina’s arrival, which is expected on July 10, was welcomed by
former ambassador to Armenia John Evans, who told the Armenian
Reporter that Mr. Perina was "a good friend" for whom he had "highest

"The U.S. Embassy will be in good hands," added Mr. Evans, who was
forced to leave Yerevan on September 10, 2006, and retire from the
Foreign Service because of remarks he made in 2005 affirming the
Armenian Genocide.

Ambassador Richard Hoagland remains the formal ambassador-designate
for Armenia, even though his candidacy has been blocked in the Senate
since last September. A chargé d’affaires leads a diplomatic mission
in the absence of a confirmed ambassador.

Sources familiar with details of the appointment suggested that Mr.
Perina will remain in Yerevan for six and 10 weeks. For Mr. Perina,
this would become a second such assignment. From May to September
2006, he led the U.S. Embassy in Moldova until the arrival of a
permanent ambassador.

Mr. Perina’s appointment is intended to ensure the smooth handover
of responsibilities from outgoing chargé d’affaires Anthony Godfrey to
Joseph Pennington, a State Department official who will be arriving in
Armenia later this summer. Mr. Pennington, like Mr. Godfrey, would be
deputy chief of mission if an ambassador were present.

Mr. Perina has been called back from retirement after a 32-year
career with the Foreign Service. Mr. Perina served as the State
Department’s deputy director for policy planning (2004-2006), U.S.
special negotiator for Karabakh (2001-2004), and ambassador to Moldova

"By appointing Ambassador Perina as chargé d’affaires, the State
Department took into account his rich experience and knowledge of
Armenia as well as his personal and business ties with top Armenian
leaders, which will contribute to continuity in our bilateral
relations with Armenia," a U.S. Embassy spokesperson told RFE/RL.

***************************************** **********************************

5. From Washington, in brief

by Emil Sanamyan

* U.S.-Armenia military consultations held in Washington

On June 27-28, an Armenian Defense Ministry delegation visited with
counterparts in the Pentagon for annual talks on security issues.
Delegation head Gen. Mikael Melkonian, who directs the ministry’s
international cooperation division, told the Armenian Reporter, "the
bilateral defense consultations are intended to review the cooperation
of the last two years and discuss projects for following years."

The delegation held talks with the deputy assistant secretary of
defense for Europe and NATO, Dan Fata, and other U.S. officials. They
also went to the Walter Reed hospital to talk with Capt. Georgi
Nalbandian, who is completing his rehabilitation treatment there after
being seriously wounded in Iraq.

After that visit, Gen. Melkonian thanked the hospital staff for the
care provided to Capt. Nalbandian and expressed certainty that the
officer will soon return to active duty in the Armenian army.

Before arriving in Washington, the delegation visited the U.S.
Defense Language Institute in San Antonio, Tex., where sixteen
Armenian officers now study.

* Canadian government, Swiss court stand ground on affirmation

Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada reaffirmed his country’s
policy on the Armenian Genocide. In comments delivered at the National
Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC) on June 15, Mr.
Harper said, "Canada’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide . . . is
the position of the Government of Canada," the Armenian National
Committee of Canada reported on June 19.

Mr. Harper also called "unacceptable" any foreign government’s
efforts to pressure the Canadian government and media not to affirm
the Genocide.

A Swiss appeals court upheld on June 20 the conviction against the
leader of the Turkish Workers’ Party Dogu Perincek, The Associated
Press reported the same day.

On March 9 a Lausanne court sentenced the veteran Turkish politician
to a fine under Swiss anti-racism laws for denying the Armenian
Genocide, a ruling protested by the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Mr.
Perincek’s lawyer said he would continue the appeals process.

* PBS program previews Karabakh war film

A Story of People in War and Peace, a documentary by Yerevan film
director and war correspondent Vardan Hovannisian, was previewed on a
public television (PBS) program on June 17. "Foreign Exchange with
Fareed Zakaria" () aired a five-minute cut of
the hour-long film about the conflict it described as "an unsolved
remnant of Soviet Union’s demise."

To accompany the film excerpt, Zakaria’s show editors misquoted a
factually flawed CIA fact book, describing the war as stemming from
Armenia’s "territorial claims" and resulting in a "land grab." Zakaria
is an editor of Newsweek International and a prominent Washington

Hovannisian’s documentary has won awards at European and U.S. film
festivals and is due to be shown in full by Documentary Television,
available via U.S. Dish Network, Channel 197.

******************************************** *******************************

6. USAPAC’s Ross Vartian says a confident community is ready for a
broad advocacy agenda in Washington

Ross Vartian is the executive director of USAPAC, the U.S.-Armenia
Public Affairs Committee, formed in December in Washington. We spoke
to Mr. Vartian on June 28 to find out where the advocacy organization
stands six months after it was launched. (USAPAC received its initial
funding through a grant from Gerard L. Cafesjian and the Cafesjian
Family Foundation, which owns this newspaper.)

Q: USAPAC has been around for six months now. What did you hope to
have achieved in the first few months and what have you achieved?

Vartian: Our initial objectives were to create a credible Washington
presence; establish working relations with our community’s
congressional friends, the other members of the Armenian lobby, the
Armenian Embassy, the NKR Office, and select Bush Administration
officials; encourage greater intra-Armenian cooperation and
collaboration in pursuit of our community’s advocacy agenda; and add
our unique voice to the overall advocacy effort in support of Armenia
and Artsakh.

I believe that USAPAC has made good progress on all of these
objectives since our launch.

With the generous founding support of philanthropist and political
activist Gerard L. Cafesjian, we occupied a suite of offices on K
Street near the White House and hired a core staff in Washington. I
have the privilege of serving as executive director and Rob Mosher, an
experienced Capitol Hill staffer and professional Armenian-American
advocate, joined the organization as director of government affairs.
John Waters, vice president of the Cafesjian Family Foundation, serves
as a founding, volunteer member of the Board.

Once our headquarters presence was set up, Rob and I conducted
scores of meetings in Washington to outline the rationale for and
overall objectives of USAPAC, and most importantly, to listen to the
ideas and concerns of public-policy makers representing the U.S.,
Armenia, and Karabakh. This initial round of consultations was vital
to our organization formulating an advocacy agenda beyond the
traditional priorities of aid to Armenia and Artsakh, and of course
resolutions on the Armenian Genocide.

* The Armenian lobby team

We also sought from the outset to promote greater intra-Armenian
cooperation and collaboration.

USAPAC was pleased to be welcomed as part of the Armenian lobby team
in our nation’s capital. We were among the institutional planners and
supporters of the 92nd-anniversary commemoration of the Armenian
Genocide on Capitol Hill under the auspices of the Armenia Caucus
co-chairs and the Armenian Embassy. Pan-Armenian solidarity is
essential for remembrances of the Armenian Genocide and Independence
Days for Armenia and NKR.

Similarly, USAPAC is pleased to be part of a House working group on
the Genocide resolution composed of the Armenian Assembly, the
Armenian National Committee, ARMENPAC, the offices of Caucus co-chairs
Pallone and Knollenberg, and resolution lead sponsors Schiff and
Radanovich. Our organization will continue to offer our unique blend
of supporters, ideas, tactics, and resources to the collective effort
of the community to espouse and defend Armenian interests.

Q: You say you wanted to have an "advocacy agenda beyond the
traditional priorities of aid to Armenia and Artsakh, and of course
resolutions on the Armenian Genocide." Those have been the priorities
of the Armenian lobby. Of course, security concerns are also on the
agenda: there was Section 907, which prohibited U.S. military aid to
Azerbaijan; now there’s the matter of aid parity between Armenia and
Azerbaijan. So what else is on your advocacy agenda?

Vartian: It bears repeating that the community’s traditional agenda
of U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide and the annual
appropriations process consumes a great deal of the Armenian lobby’s
human and political capital. Making these advocacy objectives ongoing
priorities has resulted in continuing assistance to Armenia’s
humanitarian, technical, reform, and economic development, as well as
to Karabakh’s humanitarian needs. Without the focused attention of the
Armenian Lobby working together, there would not be 212 House
co-sponsors and 31 Senate co-sponsors to pending Armenian Genocide

* An expanded agenda

Of course, there have been and will be other issues of concern to our
community that require advocacy in Washington. You mentioned Section
907 and maintaining parity in U.S. assistance to Armenia and
Azerbaijan. USAPAC has joined the Assembly and the ANCA in urging —
thus far successfully — no further changes to Section 907 and
security aid parity. Maintaining these provisions helps keep the
delicate peace that Azerbaijan routinely threatens to violate.

In addition, we have joined with the same organizations in seeking
to expand U.S/Karabakh relations and in ending genocide in Darfur.
Over time and with the ongoing encouragement of Armenia’s and
Karabakh’s representation in Washington, USAPAC hopes to expand the
range of issues that the Assembly, ANCA, and our organization work on
together. To the extent that we do effectively collaborate, the
peoples of Armenia and Karabakh benefit.

USAPAC is working on a range of important issues that include:
improving Armenia’s energy diversification and independence,
increasing U.S.-Armenia trade relations, supporting greater
U.S.-Armenia security cooperation, encouraging more U.S. delegations
to visit Armenia and Artsakh, confronting Azerbaijan’s war mongering
and preparation, ending Armenia’s regional isolation, and, protection
for Armenians at risk throughout the diaspora.

Finally we have been working throughout the first six months to
recruit more donors and volunteers. During the next six months, USAPAC
will launch our membership and grass roots website and expand
recruiting nationally for donors and members. A competent Washington
office must be complemented by a national network of supporters.

* A confident community

Q: You’ve been working to shape policy in Washington on behalf of
Armenian-Americans for almost three decades. The community has changed
over this time, as have the concerns we take to Washington. And, of
course, Washington has changed, as has the Armenian reality with the
momentous fact of Armenia’s independence. Do you find that
Armenian-Americans have become any better at getting our voices heard
and getting things done?

Vartian: What a polite way to broach the subject of my near
retirement age! It has been almost 30 years since I began representing
Armenian-American interests, first with the Assembly, then the
Armenian Genocide Museum & Memorial, and now with USAPAC. Happily, our
community has grown and matured dramatically during this period. There
are exponentially more civic activists working effectively through
Armenian and non-Armenian advocacy/political organizations on a far
broader array of issues of national and international significance.

Armenian-Americans have overcome the initial intimidation of the
political process. We have gained confidence and become actively
involved at the local, state, and federal levels. Armenian-Americans
are seeking elective public office and civil service careers in
unprecedented numbers. On the advocacy front, we have gone from
relying on protest to relying on the legitimate place at the public
policy table we earned through years of focused political effort.
Today, there is no doubt that the Armenian lobby — thanks to the
broad community support earned and enjoyed by the Assembly and the
ANCA over the years — is respected and factored in by decision makers
in Washington.

Our relationship with Congress has changed dramatically as well. In
the beginning, our contacts were with members of Congress in districts
where we were numerous. Today, the Armenian lobby has effective and
mutually beneficial working relationships with congressmen and
congresswomen from both parties throughout our country — including
congressional districts where Armenians are very few. We are now a
national force to be reckoned with.

Obviously, the issues we champion today could not have been
anticipated in the early 70s when our community coalesced around the
notion that we needed formal and continuous representation in our
nation’s capital. At that time, none could have foreseen Armenia’s
earthquake in 1988, the Soviet Union’s collapse and Armenia’s
liberation in 1991, and the historic, ongoing, and successful campaign
for Karabakh’s self-determination. These three moments continue to
drive our advocacy agenda today.

While we are considerably better at advocacy after some three
decades of learning on the job, we have more to do in a much more
competitive, and in some cases, hostile Washington environment.

It is important to note that during this same period, the strength,
number, diversity and sophistication of our adversaries have grown as
well, at times dwarfing our advocacy effort. Turkey relies on
multimillion dollar hired lobbyists, on an increasingly active
Turkish-American community, on longstanding relationships with key,
senior American policy makers, and on its advantage of geography.
Azerbaijan is following the Turkish model step by step and its
temporary advantage of hydrocarbon assets. We can and must do better
in the decades ahead to further US/Armenia and US/Karabakh
interdependence and support.

Q: What does USAPAC add to the Armenian advocacy table? And you said
"USAPAC was pleased to be welcomed as part of the Armenian lobby team
in our nation’s capital." Can you elaborate?

Vartian: As I have already asserted, there is no question that the
Armenian lobby has been effective and that our advocacy challenges and
adversaries are such that much more needs to be done. Our motivation
in forming USAPAC in the way that we did was to offer something
different from, yet compatible with current Armenian-American advocacy
organizations with a Washington presence.

USAPAC is a matrix of four linked organizations that together enable
us to support or oppose legislation and policies, support or oppose
federal candidates, advocate without limitation on issues or interest,
and organize grassroots support nationally without limitation.

This combination of organizations — consisting of the Council on
U.S.-Armenia Relations; the U.S.-Armenia Public Affairs Committee; the
U.S.-Armenia Political Action Committee; and the Committee on
U.S.-Armenia Issues — is unique in our community. They constitute the
optimal institutional combination with the least restrictions on size
of contributions and the maximum freedom to participate in every
category of lobbying activity, including issues advocacy, political
fundraising, and voter education.

* The pro-Israel model

As we explored new ways to respond to the forces arrayed against
Armenian-American concerns and objectives, we looked to one of the
most effective groups in the U.S. that also faces comparable forces in
opposition to its agenda — the pro-Israel Lobby. This community’s
advocacy preeminence can be attributed in significant measure to its
diversity and sheer numbers of national, regional, and local advocacy
organizations that can be relied upon time after time to act with
remarkable coordination and effect. Our community has every reason to
emulate this successful model of strength in numbers and unity of

As to how USAPAC has been received in Washington, we are very
pleased with, and grateful for, the positive response. Both the
Armenian Embassy and the NKR Office welcomed our organization from day
one. Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues co-chairs Pallone and
Knollenberg set the tone and standard for USAPAC’s seamless
integration into the Armenian lobby family. Dozens of congressional
offices have similarly accepted USAPAC as a member of our community’s
advocacy effort. Finally, our organization appreciates the effective
pan-Armenian collaboration on select, priority issues made possible by
the Assembly and the ANCA. We look forward to eventual
Assembly/ANCA/USAPAC cooperation on the community’s full advocacy

Q: An area in which there’s an emphatic difference between the
Armenian Assembly and the Armenian National Committee is the
nomination of a U.S. ambassador to Armenia. USAPAC has spoken against
the confirmation of President Bush’s nominee, Richard Hoagland. Is the
U.S.-Armenia relationship suffering because of the absence of an
ambassador for the last 10 months?

Vartian: Inevitably, there are and will be differences of opinion
within the Armenian lobby. As you pointed out, the Hoagland nomination
is a striking example. USAPAC continues to vigorously oppose his
nomination, as does the ANCA. Nevertheless, all three organizations
continue to work either together or toward the same objectives on a
range of issues including the Armenian Genocide resolutions and
appropriations for Armenia and NKR.

It is preferable to have this important post filled at all times.
But this was a unique circumstance with the firing of Ambassador Evans
for telling the truth about the Armenian Genocide, followed by the
Bush Administration not allowing its nominee Ambassador Hoagland to
refer to the attempted annihilation of our people as genocide. The
pro-Israel lobby would never support a prospective ambassadorial
nominee to Israel that did not acknowledge the Holocaust. Neither
should we.

Of course the U.S.-Armenia relationship has been impacted, but not
as much as had Ambassador Hoagland been confirmed by the Senate and
posted to Yerevan. Moreover. However, Armenia’s ambassador to the
United States Markarian, America’s chargé Godfrey, and USAID’s
director Fickenscher have each stepped up to fill the gap. While the
position is vacant, all U.S./Armenia programs have continued without
interruption. Nevertheless, we look forward to having an American
ambassador serving in Armenia without controversy so that he or she
can do the job effectively.

Q: Over the last couple of weeks, the number of members of the House
who have signed onto the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.106 is up
to 212. That’s just six members short of a majority of members. What
can readers do to get six — or 60 — more members to sign on? And
once that happens, then what?

Vartian: Crossing the 200 House co-sponsor threshold is already an
unprecedented achievement for those in Congress leading this campaign
— Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), George Radanovich (R.-Calif.), Frank
Pallone (D.-N.J.), and Joe Knollenberg (R.-Mich.) — and of course for
our community. By the time this article is published, the magic number
of 218 — one over half of the House — may have been reached. In
three decades of trying, this has never been done.

* A call for action

USAPAC urges that our community remain active. Do not stop at 218.
Drive the number of co-sponsors as high as possible right up until the
day the Armenian Genocide resolution is scheduled for its
long-deferred vote and passage by the House of Representatives. Also,
make sure to once again thank each member of Congress that has already
co-sponsored. Know that political pressure is being brought to bear on
them to withdraw their sponsorship.

The next step on the House side is for Speaker Pelosi and Majority
Leader Hoyer to agree on a course of action. Both have strongly
supported all Armenian Genocide resolutions throughout their
distinguished congressional careers. Our many friends in Congress,
augmented by Armenian-American activists nationwide, have strengthened
their hand to proceed in the face of intense Bush Administration and
Turkish opposition.

Q: Thank you, Ross.


* * *

To find out whether your representative is a co-sponsor, visit
type "H. Res. 106" in the box for "Bill number"
and then click on "Bill Summary and Status."

*********************************** ****************************************

7. International reaction to Djulfa cemetary destruction has been only
words and no action

by Simon Maghakyan

DENVER, Colo. – After several failures to visit Djulfa (Jugha), where
the largest medieval Armenia’s cemetery was reduced to dust by
Azerbaijan’s military a year and a half ago, officials at
international organizations are talking again about sending experts to
the region.

While reports about plans to send a mission by the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to Armenia
and Azerbaijan have again appeared in the media, words are all that
have reached so far the remote shores of the Araxes where an
archeological monument with thousands of ancient Armenian burial
stones, khachkars, existed not too long ago.

Still a UNESCO spokesperson says their talks are serious and,
according to Armenpress, the organization is now working out the
details of a visit both to Nakhichevan – where Djulfa is located – and
Karabakh, where Azerbaijan alleges Armenians have destroyed Azeri

And this week, the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir
Karapetian said that UNESCO has already determined the make-up of its
monitoring group and that currently the issue is with the visits’

Armenians and others have long urged UNESCO to interfere in the
destruction of the Djulfa cemetery and other Armenian monuments.

In October 2006, an international group of parliamentarians from
Canada, France, Greece, the United Kingdom, Russia and Switzerland
traveled to UNESCO’s Paris headquarters in order to request that
Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura take up an investigation in Djulfa.

Canadian Parliamentarian Jim Karygiannis, a member of the delegation
to Paris, this week told this author that he still has not heard back
from UNESCO.

* * *

In addition to UNESCO, the Council of Europe Secretary General Terry
Davis has expressed interest in sending experts to monitor cultural
sites whenever a relevant agreement with Armenia and Azerbaijan is

But efforts by the European Parliament to send a delegation to
Djulfa, headed by British MP Edward O’Hara, first in 2006 and again in
April 2007 have been unsuccessful. This was despite the February 16,
2006 European Parliament resolution condemning the destruction of
Djulfa and calling on Azerbaijan to allow "a European parliament
delegation to visit the archaeological site of Djulfa."

O’Hara told this author that no party but himself is to blame for
this year’s postponement which was "entirely due to domestic
commitments." This explanation is different from last year’s
cancellation, which as The Art Newspaper (London) reported in June
2006, was due to Azerbaijan’s refusal to allow ten delegates to enter
its territory.

Meantime, there has been no reaction towards claims by Azeri
officials and nationalist historians that the cemetery did not exist
or was not Armenian. Foreign diplomats and organizations with presence
in Baku have also been quiet toward Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian
activities. Former Norwegian Ambassador Steinar Gil, who publicized a
case of vandalism at an Armenian church in central Azerbaijan, remains
the only exception.

Thomas de Waal, an expert on Armenian-Azerbaijani relations says
that "foreign investors and diplomats in Azerbaijan are very sensitive
towards anything that touches on the Armenian-Azerbaijani issue and
the peace process and are therefore very timid about raising the issue
of the destruction of cultural monuments."

* * *

Azerbaijan’s continuing military build-up and threats to launch a new
war to win control over Nagorno Karabakh add on to the concern for the
peace process. But Human Rights Watch has also blamed the West,
especially the United States, for trading human rights for oil in
Azerbaijan for inaction to condemn broad range of human rights

The U.S. State Department did not react on the Djulfa vandalism
until pressed for comment. Following a congressional hearing on
February 16, 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sent a written
response to Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) acknowledging U.S.
awareness of "allegations of desecration of cultural monuments" and
urged Azerbaijan to "take appropriate measures to prevent any
desecration of cultural monuments." She also said the U.S. has
"encouraged Armenia and Azerbaijan to work with UNESCO to investigate
the incident."

During a visit to Armenia in March 2006, Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State Matt Bryza called the destruction a "tragedy." He said: "it’s
awful what happened in Djulfa. But the United States cannot take steps
to stop it as it is happening on foreign soil. We continually raise
this issue at meetings with Azeri officials. We are hopeful that the
guilty will justly be punished."

Later that month, Bryza’s State Department manager, Assistant
Secretary Dan Fried, told the Armenian Assembly of America conference
in Washington that he "would be happy to raise issues of Armenian
historical sites" with Azerbaijani officials because respect and
protection for cultural sites is "a universal policy of the United

And in her May 12, 2006 response to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.),
U.S. Ambassador-designate to Azerbaijan Anne Derse noted that the U.S.
is "urging the relevant Azerbaijani authorities to investigate the
allegations of desecration of cultural monuments in Nakhichevan. If I
am confirmed, and if such issues arise during my tenure, I will
communicate our concerns to the Government of Azerbaijan and pursue
appropriate activities in support of U.S. interests."

* * *

The destruction of Djulfa, nonetheless, did not make it into the State
Department’s 2006 International Religious Freedom Report on Azerbaijan
released on September 15, 2006. The report only repeated the previous
years’ language that "all Armenian churches, many of which were
damaged in ethnic riots that took place more than a decade ago,
remained closed."

Likewise, the report failed to notice the words of the Norwegian
Ambassador that a church in the village of Nizh was in early 2006
"restored" with Armenian lettering eliminated from its walls and
nearby tombstones. That "restoration" was part of the Azerbaijan’s
effort to present the Armenian cultural heritage on its territory as
"Albanian" — that is belonging to a culture that became extinct
hundreds of years ago – and therefore not Armenian.

* * *

The most detailed outsider’s account of Nakhichevan’s Armenian
heritage remains that of Steven Sim, a Scottish architect who visited
the area in the summer of 2005. During his visit he found no trace of
a single medieval Armenian church he had travelled to research, with
local interlocutors denying there were any churches there in the first

Still, while traveling along the border with Iran, Sim did manage
to see the Djulfa khachkars from his train before the hand-crafted
stones were erased from the face of the Earth in less than half a

More than 350 years ago before Sim’s visit, a foreign traveller to
Djulfa had estimated 10,000 khachkars in the cemetery. By 1998, less
than seven decades after a Soviet agreement with Turkey placed
Nakhichevan under Azerbaijan, there were only 2,000 khachkars
remaining while the entire Armenian population had disappeared.

According to eyewitness reports cited by the International Council
on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), Azeri authorities made efforts to
destroy much of the Djulfa cemetery in 1998 and again in 2002.
Describing what he saw in Djulfa in August 2005, Sim reported "what I
saw was real savageness, but I cannot say that they did not leave
anything, since there are still lying khachkars."

Four months later, on December 15, 2005, Russia’s Regnum News Agency
was the first international outlet to quote reports of approximately
"100 Azerbaijani servicemen penetrate[ing] the Armenian cemetery near
Nakhichevan… using sledgehammers and other tools… to crush Armenian
graves and crosses."

This final stage of destruction, which also amounted to desecration
of Armenian remains underneath the burial monuments, had reportedly
started on December 14 and lasted for three days, leaving no trace of
a single khachkar.

An Armenian film crew in northern Iran, from where the cemetery was
visible, had videotaped dozens of men in uniform hacking away at the
khachkars with sledgehammers, using a crane to remove some of the
largest stones from the ground, breaking the stones into small pieces,
and dumping them into the River Araxes using a heavy truck.

Nevertheless, Azeri president Ilham Aliyev told the Associated Press
that the reports of the destruction are "an absolute lie, slanderous
information, a provocation."

By March 2006, photographs of the cemetery site showed that it had
been turned into an army shooting range. An Azerbaijani journalist who
visited the area on behalf of the London-based Institute for War and
Peace Reporting in April 2006 similarly found no traces of the
cemetery left.

* * *

Simon Maghakyan is a political science student at the University of
Colorado at Denver. He is a graduate of the International Institute
for Genocide and Human Rights Studies and a member of USA TODAY’s 2006
All-USA Academic First Team for Community Colleges. His film on the
destruction of Djulfa, "The New Tears of Araxes," is available at

********************************* ******************************************

8. National Assembly approves Armenian government’s five-year plan

* Emphasizes business competitiveness

by Armen Hakobyan

YEREVAN — Prime Minister Serge Sargsian’s newly formed government
presented its overall program to Armenia’s newly elected National
Assembly on June 26. The National Assembly approved the program with
94 votes in favor, seven opposed (the entire delegation of the
Heritage Party), and nine abstentions (the Country of Laws Party

"The government will make every effort to ensure an annual GDP
growth of 8-10 percent," the prime minister said in presenting the
government program. Armenia’s GDP grew 13.4 percent in 2006, the sixth
consecutive year of double-digit growth.

He promised "growth of no less than 10 percent in foreign direct
investment; an incremental increase in tax collections of 0.3-0.4
percent of GDP; poverty reduction, so that no more than 12 percent of
the population of the republic are below the poverty line" by 2012.
The current poverty rate is 30 percent. He promised an annual increase
in pensions above the rate of inflation, starting with a 60 percent
increase as of January 1, 2008.

The prime minister said he wanted Armenia to be recognized
internationally as the best country in the region for enterprise and
investments. He said Armenia has competitive advantages, which it must
develop, in mining, chemical engineering, the production of
construction supplies, agriculture, and science. Armenia must develop
competitive advantages in the fields of education, healthcare,
information technology, tourism, and financial services, the prime
minister added.

"In each of these fields, it is necessary for the largest concerns
to reshape themselves into socially responsible enterprises. Armenian
citizens and foreign investors alike should have the opportunity to
participate in capitalizing these enterprises," Mr. Sargsian said.

The government’s program of "second-generation reforms" focuses on
strengthening of business competition and fighting corruption. "Tax
evasion and corruption must been seen as a dishonorable phenomenon
condemned by the public. We must not tolerate a lenient approach
within our ranks and we must start from ourselves," he told the
members of parliament, many of whom own large businesses in Armenia.
"We must not take into account family ties and must not regard as
friends those individuals who will avoid paying taxes."

Mr. Sargsian called for more civility and less rancor in social
discourse. "The fundamental prerequisite for our country’s growth is
our people’s spiritual unity, the formation of an environment of
mutual respect, cooperation, and trust, which is necessary for the
government to work effectively," he said. Referring to a 12th-century
theologian and catholicos, he added, "Nerses Shnorhali best expressed
this approach when he wrote, ‘Unity in the first place, liberty in the
second, and love everywhere.’ This is, in essence, the spiritual basis
for building a democratic civil society."

Although the National Assembly approved the government’s five-year
program, the government will have to resign in eight months when a new
president is elected.

**************************************** ***********************************

9. Business-university partnership helps train information technology
professionals in Armenia

* A new lab for future specialists

by Armen Hakobyan

YEREVAN — Samvel Muradian of the high-tech firm AviaInfoTel says
Armenian companies that need specialists who are familiar with the
latest achievements in production and technology have to train their
own. "This is a hard and costly work," he adds.

The State Engineering University of Armenia in partnership with
AviaInfoTel this month opened an educational and research laboratory
for data protection and processing. The lab is part of the
university’s Computer Systems and Information Science Department.

At an opening ceremony, representatives of the department and
Aviainfotel described the lab and its goals.

The lab is equipped with ultramodern computer technology provided by

"The establishment of the lab is another attempt to provide
connection between business and universities," said Gevorg Margarov,
head of the computer systems department. "In the old model, businesses
selected some of our best students and trained them further. In this
model, the training will be applied to all students, and thus we will
be able to train professionals not only for Aviainfotel, but rather
for all Armenian enterprises that need such specialists."

The lab will train information technology specialists and
particularly experts in data protection. Mr. Margarov says the
specialty is in high demand in Armenia and is a weak point for many
Armenian companies.

As part of the partnership between private enterprise and the
university, Mr. Margarov said, students who help private companies
find solutions will be remunerated generously by those companies.

This approach will enable the competent students not only to acquire
knowledge, but also to earn money. "We pose a problem and then it’s
like a competition: who can take it on and solve it? If someone
undertakes a problem and cannot solve it, that’s a lesson learned. If
the student solves the problem, he or she receives the premium. If we
are able to develop this mechanism a little bit further, it will work
very efficiently."

Professor Robert Hakobyan, who teaches in the computer systems
department, notes that the department and AviaInfoTel have had a
longstanding relationship. "That’s why we decided to establish this
joint laboratory to make it possible to address also the challenge of
training highly qualified professionals. The point is that this lab is
going to work for students, so they will be involved in practical work
and get familiar with market demands while still in university. The
goal is to make sure that on completion of study they will be not
‘immature,’ but rather familiar with the market, with everything it
can offer, and know what programs and systems they are going to
develop. Thus, the most important task for us is the training of
qualified professionals."

Prof. Hakobyan provides an inventory of the equipment in the lab. It
includes, for example, 12- and 6-processor servers from Sun
Microsystems. "In addition, there are up-to-date PCs on various
platforms and operating systems. The point is to ensure the
compatibility of solutions across the board. In practical terms, this
means that we can develop platform-independent programs for clients."

On the job market in Armenia, Mr. Muradian said, "We are trying to
develop the market in information technology in Armenia. All we have
now is a marketplace of promises: whoever can make the most ambitious
promise for the least amount of money wins the contract. When
organizing tenders, it is often impossible to make quantifiable
demands. Our labs will help establish benchmarks and measures."

How does AviaInfoTel benefit from investing in students as a whole,
rather than training a select group? "We have already benefited from
the cooperation with the academic staff of the university in such
tasks as testing and development of our systems," Mr. Muradian says.
"I find testing to be especially important, because it cannot be
implemented by the developer, who cannot be impartial."

The company also benefits from joint tests with its clients, such as
Armenia’s National Security Service, the State Cadastre, and
"Zvartnots" Airport, Mr. Muradian added.

Speaking about the company’s work with the National Security
Service, Mr. Muradian noted that the service deals with an enormous
amount of information, especially from border crossings.

Present for the lab’s opening ceremony was lab William Douglass,
transnational crime affairs officer for the Bureau for International
Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the US Embassy. The embassy
has supported the lab.

The deputy head of the National Security Service declined to answer
any questions and, indeed, denied being the deputy head of the
service. But the head of the State Cadastre — the register of real
estate — Smbat Davtian said, "We have a huge amount of information in
circulation — both texts and graphics, such as real estate diagrams.
The protection of information is connected not only with protection of
the real estate, but also with national security. We are looking very
carefully at how to improve our systems."

The university and Aviainfotel signed the agreement to establish
this lab on April 6, 2006.

******************************************* ********************************

10. Concert at the Cascade raises AIDS awareness

by Betty Panossian- Ter Sargssian

YEREVAN — More than 300 young volunteers could not wait for World
AIDS Day next December 1 to raise awareness, promote tolerance, and
advance preventive measures for HIV/AIDS. Six months early, they went
out into Yerevan’s streets to reach out to people with booklets,
posters, and lots of red ribbons.

On June 20, the Armenian Red Cross Society joined hands with the
Cafesjian Museum Foundation to advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness through
an open-air, free concert at the Cascade.

The idea of uniting the efforts of the Armenian Red Cross and the
Cafesjian Museum Foundation had been on the agenda since last year,
and it finally became a reality.

For the past two years, the Armenian Red Cross has been fighting
against HIV/AIDS with public campaigns and social events. Benefit
concerts and talk show appearances have been abundant.

The Cascade concert was another perfect venue for the Red Cross to
take its campaign to a larger audience. The few thousand seated
audience members — and thousands more walking around the park — made
a fresh target for the campaign. People were able to enjoy the music,
the park, and rummage around tables and stands filled with HIV/AIDS
posters, banners, stickers, pictures, booklets, and more.

"Young people in particular love to come to the Cascade, and here we
have a great chance to meet them and reach out," said Katarina
Vardanyan, youth director of the Armenian Red Cross, in an interview
with the Armenian Reporter.

The past two years have also seen the Armenian Red Cross winning
grants for carrying out its projects, which aim to mobilize 3,000 Red
Cross volunteers, mostly youth, across Armenia. This efficient means
of cost reduction is also proving an effective way of raising
awareness in the minds of some portion of the target audience.

* Savoir faire, and other strategies

Around 300 Armenian Red Cross volunteers were present at the Cascade
on June 20. They handed out around 1,000 questionnaires to visitors,
to survey the public’s knowledge about AIDS. Katarina Vardanyan says
that these questionnaires — which will be developed into an
informational document — are an index of the extent to which youth
are informed about the condition.

Based on the results of the informal survey, the Armenian Red Cross
will develop an awareness-raising plan of action.

The campaign also looks to introduce and promote a healthy sexual
lifestyle. At the tables, visitors could learn the savoir faire of
condom use, and obtain free samples. "Freedom is the essential thing.
If we are free to have sex, we should be free to protect ourselves,"
stresses Vardanyan.

"Unfortunately, there is a general attitude among the youth that
they are far from being endangered by HIV/AIDS. But that attitude is
our real danger," Vardanyan says.

Besides targeting the lack of knowledge, the Armenian Red Cross
campaign also intends to attack the stigma and discrimination
associated with HIV/AIDS in Armenian society.

Collaborating with musicians and artists through organized social
and cultural events is a strategy in the overall struggle.

For 10 years now, the Red Cross Society is been campaigning to raise
awareness of HIV/AIDS in Armenia, by organizing school sex-education
classes, seminars, public meetings, and social and cultural events.

"But lectures and formal meetings did not have the desired effect,"
laments Vardanyan. "People, especially the youth, were not interested;
they didn’t listen." Events like the Cascade concert are a way to make
them listen, and find out more by themselves, in an interactive way.

* Fighting indifference

The volunteers involved in the campaign around the Cascade were young
people, mostly college students, who know what their peers want to
know and hear about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections. They
came up with the logos and banners that were used; they chose the
exact words to pique the interest of visitors and passersby; and they
generally reached out to their peers.

"We are doing everything for the youth and through the youth," says
Katarina Vardanyan. Many sitting in the audience at the concert and
many more wandering about the park wore the omnipresent red ribbon:
the universal symbol for the campaign against AIDS.

Still, a common attitude of indifference towards the issue prevails
in Armenia; many think their country is invulnerable to the epidemic.

But UNICEF reports that the number of people infected with HIV/AIDS
is registering a steady growth. In December 2006, the United Nations
warned that Armenia faces a "potential disaster" if measures are not
taken to halt the disease.

However, as of the December 2006 date, there were 304 officially
registered cases of the disease in Armenia.

* Fresh breezes and sharp edges

For most of the people attending the June 20 event, the concert by
Lilit Pipoyan, Rouben Hakhvertian, and Vahan Ardzrouni was the real
attraction. But as attendees made their way through the Cascade, they
had to pass the tables and information bulletins.

"This concert is unique, because it features Armenian musicians and
artists well loved by the youth and middle-aged alike, advocating for
a humanitarian cause," Madlene Miniassian, the PR and events director
at the Cafesjian Museum Foundation, told the Armenian Reporter.

She added that each of the three featured artists "shares the
benevolent spirit of the whole concert and event, and we are grateful
for their contributions."

During the concert each of the musicians called out for the
importance of raising awareness of HIV/AIDS.

The live concert had three harmonious parts. Each part set the mood
for the next, and the energy on stage gained momentum with each
artist. As the concert progressed, each successive performer showed a
"sharper edge" than the one before.

The first to appear on stage was Lilit Pipoyan: a fresh, cool breeze
to contrast with the warm afternoon sun. Her romantic, introspective
musical art flowed serenely through the space.

Then the staged gained a burst of energy when Rouben Hakhvertian,
the veteran of Armenian "auteur" music, made a brief but welcome
appearance with few of his classic hits, spiced up with his typical
rebellious sound and spirit.

The last artist was rocker Vahan Ardzrouni, who mostly connected
with the younger audience. In fact, most of the younger crowd had come
expressly to see Ardzrouni. "He’s our favorite," said a group of young
people lingering at the venue long after the concert.

For Arthur Ispirian, the deputy PR and events director at the
Cafesjian Museum Foundation, the necessary ingredients for every live
performance on the Cascade’s open-air stage are quality, artistic
values, and a high standard in pop culture. "I like it when good
bands play at the Cascade concerts, when they fill the air with the
tunes, rhythm, and melodies of our quality music, says Ispirian. "That
is our real culture — not the one promoted in pop culture."

********************************** *****************************************

11. "Not all victors are aggressors," Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian
tells Black Sea leaders

* BSEC holds 15th anniversary summit

YEREVAN — The Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization on June 25
held a summit in Istanbul, which was attended by the heads of state of
11 of the 12 member states, including President Putin of Russia. (See
editorial, page A10.)

Armenia was represented by Vartan Oskanian, minister of foreign
affairs. He explained that in the absence of diplomatic relations
between Armenia and Turkey and in the absence of a process to improve
relations, it would not be appropriate for the president or prime
minister to travel to Turkey for the summit.

On the sidelines of the summit, Mr. Oskanian met with Turkey’s
foreign minister, Abdullah Gül. They examined two themes, Mr. Oskanian
told journalists on June 29: "Our bilateral relations — or rather the
absence of bilateral relations — and I confirmed our position that we
have no preconditions for developing relations, opening the border as
a first step, after which we can look at other matters.

"Second, the question of Nagorno-Karabakh," Mr. Oskanian continued.
"True, today Turkey has more opportunities to hear from Azerbaijan
about the negotiations, which is clearly one-sided. So we presented
our position, our approaches, our conceptions and expectations, so
that the Turkish side can form a more objective opinion and reach fair

There was no change in the Turkish position, Mr. Oskanian added.

What follows is Mr. Oskanian’s address at the BSEC summit.

* Oskanian’s speech in Istanbul

Mr. Chairman, it’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for your hospitality.

Fifteen years ago, when BSEC was founded, it was a visionary effort
at a time when the world stood at a historical crossroads, when almost
all of our member states were themselves living their own historical
turning point, heading a new or a re-organized state. Just as our
organization was young, so were each of our states.

Fifteen years later, each of our countries and BSEC, too, have
changed. I can speak for Armenia: Our economic growth is gratifying,
the collapse of the time of independence is only a bad memory.
Institutions are stronger, as evidenced by our recent elections, I am
proud to say very positively assessed by the international community.
People are more confident. That confidence comes not just from within,
but is buttressed by the assessment of international indices. From
economic freedoms to failed states to capital hospitality, we are
significantly ahead of all our neighbors. That gives us a solid basis
on which to continue to grow.

So, just as our countries can’t, neither can our organization hide
behind the label of inexperience any more. If, in these 15 years, we
could have ascribed our occasional hesitation to certain of our own
quarrels and interests and alliances, today we see that by allowing
ourselves to be led by our differences, we limit this organization’s
capacity to make itself felt in world politics.

Mr. President,

Broadening interaction between BSEC and the EU is a measure of our
maturity and one of our significant outputs. As the EU considers the
benefits of a Black Sea Dimension for economic, social, environmental
and energy cooperation, and as BSEC works to enhance its interaction
with the EU, we around the Black Sea, have much to learn from those
around the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Baltic and North seas. Our need
for deeper relations is not limited to the structural, technical and
institutional expertise in the EU space. Rather we stand to benefit
from the European ability to create a bond between human beings that
transcends older boundaries and makes out of these new institutional
forms something that really is a community.

We also have much to learn from Europe in trying to find new
solutions to old problems. BSEC could have, should have, aided in
creating an environment conducive to resolving conflicts in our
region. Resolutions are only possible through compromise, compromise
requires reciprocal trust between peoples, and cooperation is the
obvious and proven way to inculcate such trust. Rejecting cooperation
is a symptom of a misplaced desire to find one-sided solutions; this
is unrealistic. The era of one-sided solutions is over.

In our case, in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, we have worked hard
to produce a negotiating document that is indeed based on compromise,
and has sufficient positive elements to justify our efforts to move
forward to resolve the remaining difficult differences. We are
cognizant of the irreplaceable role of the negotiating process, as
difficult as that is, to lasting resolutions. In fact, the process
itself is a signal to our populations and other stakeholders that we
understand compromise and the concessions that compromise requires.
Therefore, at this stage, to speak in the language of attack and
absolute solutions is neither realistic nor helpful.

Nor is it useful to mistake cause with consequence. The people of
Nagorno Karabakh were victims who won the military battle,
successfully defending themselves in Karabakh against a government
that attacked people it considered its own citizens. Not all victors
are aggressors. Sometimes the underdog wins because he is defending
his family, his home, his land. The people of Karabakh defended
themselves, against great odds, and won. Today, they want nothing from
Azerbaijan, except a willingness to live and let live.

Mr. Chairman, in the run-up to the anniversary summits to come, the
effectiveness of this organization will be measured not just by the
extent and number of its activities, but by the boldness of our aims,
the foresight of our goals, the value of our achievements, and the
audacity of our intent.

Thank you.

******************************************** *******************************

12. Commentary: Yev Yeghev Luys ("And there was light")

* Reform in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem

by Bedross Der Matossian

In 2005, I was invited to the Armenian Bar Association of America’s
16th annual national meeting in San Diego, to take part in a panel on
the future of Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter. The other panelist was
Karnig Kerkonian J.D., an expert on international law from Chicago. I
dealt with the current challenges facing the community from an
historical perspective; Karnig addressed the legal dimension of the
Quarter’s future. The panel was followed by a question period during
which the ABA members unanimously suggested the creation of a legal
body that would deal with the Quarter’s legal problems. After the
panel I was approached by some lawyers and judges, most of whom felt
deep concern over the condition of the Armenian Quarter, though a
significant number expressed pessimism that Armenians have no voice in
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, let alone in the issues pertaining
to the future of Jerusalem.

Two years have passed since that gathering, and the challenges for
Jerusalem’s Armenian community have only increased, due to
socio-economic and political factors in the region. I still hold firm
the belief that the main remedy to the decline of the Armenians in
Jerusalem would be the establishment of an advisory council that would
address the relevant problems.

This article will argue along these lines by providing an historical
analysis on the intra-communal relationships and challenges facing the
Armenian community. To conclude I will suggest some necessary steps to
dealing with the decline in one of the Armenian diaspora’s most
important communities.

* * *

One can hardly understand the current condition of the Jerusalem
Armenians without understanding the historical transformations that
Armenians in general experienced under the 19th-century Ottoman
Empire, and later under the British Mandate, Jordanian rule, and the
current administration by Israel.

* * *

Under the Ottoman Empire, political changes coupled with the Tanzimat
reforms led to the emergence of an Armenian constitutional movement,
which aimed at conducting Armenian community affairs on the basis of
written regulations — i.e., a constitution. A long struggle ensued
between "constitutionalists" and "conservatives," but an Armenian
National Constitution was ratified in 1863, and the Armenian National
Assembly that formed had equal rights with Istanbul’s Armenian
Patriarch. In addition to ratifying the election of the Patriarch in
Istanbul, the ANS also ratified the election of the Armenian Patriarch
of Jerusalem.

Thus, in the second half of the 19th century, the Armenian National
Assembly sitting in Constantinople assumed the right to elect the
Patriarch of Jerusalem and to supervise and control the Patriarchate’s
finances, the negotiation of loans, and the sale and purchase of
properties. Up until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Armenian
National Assembly had the right to interfere in the affairs of the
Armenian community of Jerusalem. The situation changed after the
empire’s collapse, however, as Jerusalem’s St. James Brotherhood
emerged as an autonomous entity.

The following points should be taken into consideration to
understand the historical background of the community’s present

Constitution promulgated in 1863 did not have as direct an impact on
the Armenian community of Jerusalem as it did on the Armenians living
in the other cities of the Ottoman Empire. However, up to the collapse
of the empire, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem did remain
subordinate to Istanbul’s Patriarchate and Armenian National Assembly.
During this period, no internal reform of Jerusalem’s Armenian
community took place — most likely because a large independent
community did not exist there at the time. Most of the local
population was affiliated with the Armenian Patriarchate in some way,
and the compounds inside the Armenian cathedral were rarely inhabited
by the local population; they served only as accommodations for the
pilgrims, whose status was that of temporary visitors.

(B) COLLAPSE OF THE EMPIRE: The collapse of the Ottoman Empire and
the Armenian Genocide during the First World War led to a mass
migration of Armenians from Cilicia to Jerusalem — leading ultimately
to a major change in the on-the-ground reality in Jerusalem, with
thousands pouring into the Armenian Quarter seeking shelter.
Previously, the Armenian Patriarchate had dealt only with temporary
pilgrims; now it had to deal with "pilgrims" permanently residing in
the Armenian Quarter.

The collapse of the empire also led to the detachment of the
Jerusalem Patriarchate from the authority of the Istanbul Patriarchate
and the Armenian National Assembly. The election of Patriarch Yeghishe
Turian (1921-1929) was done according to the Armenian National
Constitution, but the election was ratified by the British Queen.
During Patriarch Torkom Koushagian’s reign (1929-1939), the
constitution of the St. James Brotherhood was modified to vest
authority for the election of the Patriarch exclusively in the
brotherhood’s General Assembly — negating any "popular" element to
the decision, and so denying any kind of "national" character to the

Mandatory Period, the Patriarchate kept its relationship with the
British authorities on good terms. The British largely maintained the
Ottoman millet system, which meant that local administrative matters
concerning the Armenian refugees and the local population were still
referred to the Patriarchate.

However, following the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 and the subsequent
withdrawal of the British, the situation changed. Jerusalem became a
hotly contested locale between the Jordanians and the Israelis — a
competition frequently reflected within the Armenian community on the
issue of the patriarchal elections. The Cold War had its own impact on
the inter-communal relationships, as Jerusalem became a contested
place between the holy sees of Etchmiadzin and Cilicia.

In the 1970s and 80s, the Patriarchate pursued a subtle and
sophisticated policy with the Israeli government. But in 1987 the
first Intifada broke out, leaving an immense impact on the Armenian
shopkeepers in Jerusalem, and leading to the departure of dozens of
Armenian families.

The Patriarchate’s policies towards the state of Israel and the
Palestinian Authority cooled into a generally apolitical sentiment
following the 1990 death of Patriarch Derderian and the arrival that
same year of Patriarch Torkom Manoogian. Nevertheless, in spite of
this evident desire to stay out of the political fray, as the leader
of one of the three Christian patriarchates of Jerusalem, Patriarch
Manoogian is regularly led, along with the Greek and Latin patriarchs,
to take public stances on the prevailing issues, and has co-signed a
number of "common declarations" with the other Christian communities
on the status of Jerusalem and on the political situation in general.

It should not be forgotten that the position of Patriarch Manoogian
is quite different from that of his predecessor. Patriarch Derderian
was a political man first and foremost, and during his reign the
situation was significantly less hostile, both with the Jordanians
(until 1967) and within the municipality controlled by Israel’s Labor
party. Beginning in 1980, however, the situation of East Jerusalem
moved from bad to worse, as the rightist Likud party began running the
municipality. The larger truth today is that it is not easy for any
church to intercede effectively with the government regarding the
problems faced by its lay population, because the churches themselves
have their own problems with the current Israeli policies.

above, in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide, Jerusalem’s Armenian
Quarter filled with "permanent pilgrims," and the Patriarchate, long
used to housing and dealing with with "temporary" pilgrims only, now
had a larger problem on its hands. Eventually the Armenian lay
population organized its own clubs and organizations, and a period of
revival began during the period under the British Mandate.

However, the lay community never developed a unified body through
which to represent grievances and issues pertaining to the community
to the religious authorities. Exacerbating this deficiency were the
ideological currents extant elsewhere in the Armenian diaspora — and
as elsewhere magnified by the Cold War — which also had an impact on
Jerusalem’s Armenian community. During the internal rivalries over the
election of the patriarch, for example, these ideological loyalties
were manipulated by the clergy and by the political parties themselves
to support one or the other rival faction.

As a consequence, a deep schism developed in the community,
precluding the hope for a unified lay body. In the absence of a
unified approach, the ideological parties through their clubs acted as
mediators between the "community" — most of the time representing the
interests and the grievances of their own club members — and the
Patriarchate. However, these channels proved to be unproductive on
issues involving with the genuine collective interest of the
community. And when the political and the socio-economic situation
began to deteriorate, especially within the last three decades, these
channels proved to be utterly incompetent in representing the
grievances of their members.

It is reasonable to say that the very lack of such a unified lay
body to provide a unified channel for the collective interest of the
Armenians was itself an important factor in the process of decline.

Armenian community to present grievances through a unified body is a
direct result of the ideological rivalries in Jerusalem. It is
certainly true that the Armenian Patriarchate in the second half of
the 20th century favored, and even unofficially endorsed, one group
over the other; and that the parties themselves attempted to advance
their political agendas by backing one clerical faction over the
other, especially during the Cold War period.

In the main, however, it is clear that the Armenian Patriarchate as
an institution was reluctant to see the formation of any kind of a
unified lay body that would advance the collective interests of the
Armenians of Jerusalem.

* Challenges facing Jerusalem’s Armenian community

Today the shrinking Armenian community of Jerusalem faces serious
challenges threatening its continued existence. I will discuss some of
these challenges below, and provide suggestions as to how to deal
with them.

CITIZENSHIP STATUS: Most of the Armenians living in Jerusalem are
not Israeli citizens. Most of them are Jordanian citizens de jure, and
so fall under the legal category of "Eastern Jerusalemites." This
means that in their dealings with the governmental bureaucracy they
have to deal directly with the Eastern Jerusalem institutions. The
most important institution in this regard is the Israeli Ministry of
the Interior branch of East Jerusalem. Issues relating to obtaining
traveling documents, marriage, divorce, family reunion, and death
(among other things) need to be addressed through this institution.

For the Armenians of Jerusalem and most of the Palestinians of East
Jerusalem, this has been one of the most stressful obstacles with
which they have had to contend. In past years, simply entering the
Ministry of the Interior facility was a substantial challenge — a
precursor to the difficulty of dealing with the presiding regulations.
In response, Palestinian media and some Israeli human rights groups
have raised the issue of bureaucratic abuse in East Jerusalem.

The ministry recently obtained a new building, and so the situation
has improved slightly. However, serious bureaucratic obstacles still
stand with regard to marriage and family regulations. For example,
Jerusalem Armenians who marry Armenians from elsewhere in the diaspora
continue to face significant obstacles in bringing their spouses to
Jerusalem, due to the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ intolerable
regulations on family reunion.

This is precisely the type of grievance that a unified Advisory
Council would be able to address, through a sub-committee of legal
experts. As it stands now, those who face serious problems with the
ministry have no sympathetic body at all to take up their causes.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY: Business opportunities for Armenians in
Jerusalem are limited. A poor economic situation discourages the
venture of opening a private business in East Jerusalem. But it is
also impossible to open a business in West Jerusalem because of the
economic and the political status of the Armenians. This lack of
business opportunity in East and West Jerusalem was an important
factor in the immigration of the local Armenians to the U.S. and

Meanwhile, though the Armenian Patriarchate owns a couple of
important buildings in West Jerusalem, with over 150 shops rented to
Israelis, the local Armenian community does not benefit at all from
these properties.

HOUSING: Housing remains one of the biggest problems facing the
Armenians of Jerusalem — arguably one of the prime factors for the
community’s decline. Jerusalem’s Old City is overly populated, and it
is almost impossible to find an empty space. In the last two decades
the price of real state began to rise steeply: for example, a house of
two rooms would cost $150,000 (and we are not talking about modern
apartments here; usually these houses are characterized as "caves,"
where humidity is a frequent visitor). The average monthly income of
an Armenian in Jerusalem ranges from $800 to $1,200; the economic
condition of Armenians was better in the past when most of them
benefited from tourism with their goldsmith and souvenir shops, but
now 80 percent of the Armenian shopkeepers have left Jerusalem as a
result of the political situation.

It is extremely difficult for an Armenian living in East Jerusalem
to obtain a house in West Jerusalem, first because he is most likely
not an Israeli citizen, and second because of the high prices. Even if
he considered buying an apartment, he would need to take out a
mortgage from a bank — which is only possible for citizens.

If the local Armenians were living in an equitable society where
they had equal access to resources, then they would not be dependent
on the Patriarchate, and would have less to complain about regarding
its policies. But because of the hurdles situated in the path of
Israel’s non-citizens, the Armenian Patriarchate has become the only
venue which can act on behalf of Jerusalem’s Armenians. With regard to
the housing issue, the Patriarchate as an institution — despite its
vast properties and empty compounds — has failed to tackle this major
concern. On the contrary, Armenians who apply for housing to the
Patriarchate itself still face huge obstacles. Beyond this, the
Patriarchate’s perennially empty compounds and territories are always
vulnerable to "loss," state confiscation, or illicit sale.

It is worth noting that the last housing project in the Armenian
Quarter was a three-story building built by the Gulbenkian Foundation
— some 50 years ago.

EDUCATION: The Armenian St. Tarkmantchats Secondary School in
Jerusalem follows neither the Israeli nor the Palestinian educational
systems. It follows the educational system put in place under the
British Mandate. So in order to enter institutions of higher learning,
Armenian students need to pass the GSCE (General Certificate of
Secondary Education) exam. As a result it has become more difficult
for Armenians to enter Palestinian or Israeli universities, and most
students now tend to go to Armenia to study at Yerevan State
University. A reform in the educational system at St. Tarkmantchats
needs to take place in order to elevate the school’s educational and
teaching standards, and to bring it into conformity with the
prevailing societal norms.

Jerusalem’s Greek Patriarchate faced a huge property scandal. In March
of that year, Maariv, one of the leading Israeli papers, revealed in a
lengthy article a secret deal that had been struck between the Greek
Patriarchate and two Jewish investors from Cyprus. According to this
deal, the Patriarchate had sold two important buildings with 72 shops
in the most strategic area of East Jerusalem, near the Jaffa Gate. It
was reported that the deal was signed by the real state director of
the Greek Patriarchate, a priest named Niko, who thereupon vanished
and escaped to South America.

The Armenian Patriarchate has had its own homegrown "Niko’s," and
has been likewise involved in land scandals. One reason for the abuse
of position and the mismanagement of real estate holdings is the lack
of transparency in the management of the Patriarchate’s real state. In
order to have transparency, all the Patriarchate’s properties would
have to be recorded and published in a publicly accessible way.

In the meantime, any mishandling of the Patriarchate’s property
inevitably redounds to the detriment of the vulnerable Armenian
community — making the inspection the Armenian real state holdings
one of the primary tasks for the hypothetical unified advisory

Creating such an entity needs needs to be done soon, before the
pending "final solution" of the Jerusalem issue. In the past, the
Armenian Quarter has been the center of attention during peace talks,
in particular during the Camp David accords. Now once again, the
Armenians of Jerusalem are on the verge of seeing their fate decided
by great international powers. It should be our task to challenge any
decision regarding the Armenian community of Jerusalem that
contradicts the collective interest of the Jerusalem Armenians. Any
decision should be made through a referendum — and for this purpose
we would need a competent legal body to play an important role in the
proposed advisory council.

* An "Armenian Advisory Council" for Jerusalem?

Those involved in deciding the fate of the Armenians of Jerusalem need
to understand that the Armenian community members themselves need to
have a voice in the process. Clinging to partisan ideology has failed
to serve the collective interest of the Armenian community in the
past, and will fail again. In light of that, reform in the Armenian
Quarter of Jerusalem is necessary at this critical moment of history.

I am not suggesting that the constitution of the St. James
Brotherhood needs to be modified, nor that the Patriarchate needs to
be made subordinate to a reborn Armenian National Assembly. Such
objectives would be impossible to realize.

Instead, I am suggesting the establishment of an Armenian Advisory
Council in Jerusalem that would advise the Patriarchate on issues
pertaining to the political, economic, and social dimensions of the
Armenians of Israel/Palestine in general, and of Jerusalem in
particular. This Advisory Council would consist of members from the
Armenian community of Jerusalem, the diaspora, and the Armenian
government. (Partisan representation would be undesirable so as to
avoid a repetition of the Cold War experience.) A committee of legal
experts within the Advisory Council would tackle issues pertaining to
law and legality in the Armenian Quarter. In 2005, the Armenian Bar
Association of America expressed its readiness to take part in such a

Taking into consideration the deplorable condition of the Armenians
of Jerusalem, and the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict, creating
such an Advisory Council represents the most promising path to a new
phase for the remnants of the community, characterized by a more equal
distribution of resources, an evaluation of the real living conditions
of the community, and a commitment to identifying appropriate

After Armenia itself, Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter is one of the
most important Armenian centers in the world, with a rich history of
1,500 years, and a claim to be one of the pre-eminent spiritual and
cultural centers in the diaspora. The perpetuation of this treasure is
presently in question; its preservation will depend on the survival of
both the Armenian Patriarchate and the Armenian community of

* * *

Bedross Der Matossian received his primary education at the Holy
Translators School in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem. He is a
graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is currently a
Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University in New York City, working on
ethnic politics during the turn of the 20th century in the Middle
East. He can be reached at [email protected]

**************************** ***********************************************

1 3. Letter: Twin thrones working together?


I read Ara Yeretsian’s article "Did Etchmiadzin ever have authority
over Cilicia?" (June 2) with great interest. In my opinion,
Yeretsian’s presentation is accurate and factual.

The simultaneous existence of two catholicoi in our history is not a
new phenomenon. Our tragic and turbulent history has occasionally
required our forefathers to act according to the demands of their
times, and provide spiritual leadership to the people when needed. The
question of authority did not come up.

In my understanding, the Catholicate of Cilicia is not the same as a
patriarchal see created by the order or with the confirmation of the
Catholicate of Etchmiadzin. The Catholicate of Cilicia is a genuine
continuation of our apostolic patriarchs Gregory the Illuminator and
Nersess Shnorhali.

When, in 1922, the aged Catholicos Sahak II of Cilicia, constrained
by the force of political events, moved from the city of Sis to
Lebanon and Syria, he did not ask permission from the Catholicos of
Etchmiadzin. In 1931, when he appointed Bishop Papken Guleserian as
catholicos coadjutor, he did not take permission from the Catholicos
of Etchmiadzin. Likewise, the election of Catholicos Karekin I
(Hovsepiantz) in 1943 was not submitted for the approval of

The See of Etchmiadzin itself has undergone numerous difficulties,
but it survived, and today is in the heart of free Armenia. On the
very spot of our Savior’s appearance, in the same church that was
built with stones that King Drtad carried on his shoulders, the youth
of Armenia is being reeducated in the age-old Armenian Christian faith
and tradition of the Illuminator.

The same thing is true for the See of Cilicia. Catholicos Sahak
followed his impoverished and homeless people to Lebanon, and since
1922 has been serving the growing Armenian diaspora with devotion.

As if by a miraculous coincidence we now have twin thrones,
jurisdictionally and administratively independent yet working
together, which have assumed the burden of the preservation of the
Armenian Church and its faithful.

Very truly yours,
Armine M. Saryan
Thousand Oaks, Calif.

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14. Editorial: Toward regional cooperation

In Europe nations that had been at war with each other intermittently
throughout their histories now share a common currency, open borders,
and broad cooperation that benefits each of them, even while they
retain their sovereignty. The process of community building and
integration has been a lengthy and difficult one, with many false
starts and much skepticism. Europe is an ongoing project, as European
institutions continue to define themselves and to expand.

Such a process is difficult to imagine for the South Caucasus and
contiguous regions in which Armenia finds itself. But we believe it is
important to imagine such scenarios, to ask whether any of them could
benefit the Armenian people, and to contemplate how they might come

Armenia once was, of course, part of a union of republics with a
common currency, open borders, and broad and mutually beneficial
cooperation. But unlike the states of the European Union, the
constituent republics of the Soviet Union were not sovereign states.
The repressive and non-voluntary nature of the Soviet regime made it
unacceptable for our freedom-loving and enterprising people.

A reintegration of former Soviet states in a Russia-dominated union
is of little interest to many of those states. Some, to the west of
Russia, are well on their way toward integration into Europe. In
Armenia’s immediate neighborhood, Georgia is most emphatically looking
away from Russia, though they do remain neighbors.

Armenia maintains a strong alliance with Russia, but it too is
engaged with Europe. A member of the Council of Europe, Armenia is
expanding its cooperation with the European Union. It is active in the
Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It is also
working closely with NATO, with which it is implementing an Individual
Partnership Action Plan.

Close cooperation with Russia, Europe, the United States, other
countries, and multilateral institutions in a complementary rather
than mutually exclusive basis is a keystone of Armenia’s healthy
foreign policy. This policy has helped Armenia maintain its security,
protect the legitimate interests of Karabakh, experience rapid
economic development, and reform its institutions. It should also help
break the blockade imposed by Turkey and Azerbaijan.

The fifteenth anniversary summit this week of the Black Sea Economic
Cooperation (BSEC) organization is an occasion to explore an
interesting additional option for Armenia: a gradual deepening and
reinforcement of cooperation among the states around the Black Sea.

The organization started as a way for Russia and Turkey — powers on
either side of the sea — to work out their differences. It now
encompasses all the littoral states (Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania,
Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine) as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan on the
east, and Albania, Greece, Moldova, and Serbia to the west.

Russian-Turkish collaboration does raise some red flags for
Armenians. In December 1920, when the Armenian republic ceded its
independence to Communist Russia, which promised to protect it from
the invading Turkish army, Lenin and Atatürk had simultaneously
reached a secret agreement under which Russia would cede Kars and
Ardahan to Turkey.

In spite of such cautionary tales, however, the BSEC formula,
handled skillfully, can present definite advantages to Armenia.
Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan continue to undertake a number of
joint initiatives that exclude and seek to isolate Armenia. BSEC’s
broader region of collaboration — which includes other countries,
such as Greece and Russia — can help bring about outcomes that are
advantageous to a greater array of parties, including Armenia. Most
importantly, it can hasten the end of Armenia’s relative isolation in
the region.

BSEC is taking on a higher profile under its current leadership.
(The secretary general of the permanent secretariat in Istanbul is
Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos, who served as the first ambassador of
Greece to Armenia in 1993-94, and is one of his country’s top experts
on European integration processes.)

The European Union has just joined it as an active observer.

Having served as a forum for smoothing problems among member states
(not only Russia and Turkey but also Russia and Georgia) through
diplomacy, BSEC has moved to a more practical, project-oriented
approach. Its big project of the moment is the Black Sea Ring Highway,
which is meant to enhance transportation lines among all 12 member

Building a road is a far cry from building a common market. But it
is an important step toward establishing the kind of trust and
goodwill that neighbors should aspire to. Practical, incremental steps
are a good way to gain the skills and confidence to make eventual
great strides.

The statement of Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian of Armenia at
BSEC’s 15th anniversary summit was appropriately positive. Welcoming
the EU’s participation in BSEC, he said: "Broadening interaction
between BSEC and the EU is a measure of our maturity and one of our
significant outputs. As the EU considers the benefits of a Black Sea
Dimension for economic, social, environmental, and energy cooperation,
and as BSEC works to enhance its interaction with the EU, we around
the Black Sea, have much to learn from those around the Mediterranean,
Adriatic, Baltic and North seas. Our need for deeper relations is not
limited to the structural, technical and institutional expertise in
the EU space."

And embracing a vision of a developing Black Sea community, Mr.
Oskanian added: "We stand to benefit from the European ability to
create a bond between human beings that transcends older boundaries
and makes out of these new institutional forms something that really
is a community."

It will now be a test of the diplomatic skills, vision, and powers
of persuasion of all involved in BSEC to see the ring road developed
in way that promotes trade and cooperation among all member states.
That will mean, above all, the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border
by Turkey.

Success here will raise expectations, confidence, and hopes for
greater cooperation, enhanced peace and security, and gradual
integration in the region.

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