Armenian Reporter – 10/13/2007 – front section

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October 13, 2007 — From the front section

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1. House committee passes Genocide resolution (by Emil Sanamyan)
* Congressional leaders overcome unprecedented opposition
* House vote pending

2. Catholicos Karekin’s first week in U.S. includes a prayer to open Congress

3. From Washington, in brief (by Emil Sanamyan)
* U.S. security officials flock to the Caucasus
* Europe’s Caucasus envoy speaks of "broken region"
* Russia’s Putin hints at staying in power beyond 2008
* Georgian president’s challenger recants, leaves politics

4. In turnaround, California Rep. Jane Harman joins effort to defeat
Genocide resolution

5. Excerpts from the debate on House Resolution 106

6. Genocide resolution looms large over Karekin II’s visit to
Washington (by Antranig Dereyan)
* On the Road with Catholicos Karekin II

7. Two Iraqi-Armenian women killed by security guards (by Emil Sanamyan)

8. Armenia’s foreign policy is being tested, but does not need to
change, says Oskanian at Tufts (by Ara Nazarian)

9. An exclusive interview with Vahe Aghabegians, executive director of
the Armenia Fund (by Maria Titizian)
* The measure of success
* History of the Armenia Fund
* Tavush Khashtarak Cluster
* Vahe Aghabegians

10. Market update (by Haik Papian)

11. Living in Armenia: Searching for Camelot (by Maria Titizian)

12. Letter: On locking out the chief donor (by Shaghig Mankerian)

13. Editorial: Thank you!

14. Editorial: Turkey threatens the U.S.

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1. House committee passes Genocide resolution

* Congressional leaders overcome unprecedented opposition

* House vote pending

by Emil Sanamyan

WASHINGTON — The Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of
Representatives voted 27 to 21 on October 10 to send the Armenian
Genocide resolution to the House floor and recommend passage.

In an interview with PBS the next day, committee chair Rep. Tom
Lantos (D.-Calif.) called the vote "a significant step in restoring
the moral authority of U.S. foreign policy."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.), a longtime supporter, again
pledged to bring the resolution to a vote following the committee
vote. "I don’t have a date in mind, but it will [come to a vote]
before the end of this session," Ms. Pelosi said in a briefing on
October 11. The session is scheduled to end in late November.

The vote came amid unprecedented lobbying against the resolution by
President George W. Bush, his secretaries of state and defense, and
senior U.S. military commanders, who citied Turkey’s importance for
U.S. military operations in Iraq.

As in the past, Turkey’s leaders hinted that they would retaliate
against U.S. interests if the measure passes the House and unless U.S.
helps Turkish interests in Iraq.

The president’s open involvement in opposing the resolution and
Congressional leaders’ determination to pass it brought the
decades-long grassroots struggle for reaffirmation of the Armenian
Genocide an unprecedented level of worldwide attention.

* The cause

For decades, the Armenian-American community and its allies have
worked to educate their elected representatives on the facts and the
legacy of the Genocide and urge the U.S. government to unambiguously
condemn this crime against humanity.

Most recently in 2000 and 2005 congressional resolutions passed in
committees only to be blocked before reaching a vote in the House. In
both cases, the U.S. administration (under Presidents Clinton and
Bush) acceded to Turkish pressure and urged then-Speaker Dennis
Hastert to suppress the measure.

Last year, the Bush administration went as far as to sack its
ambassador to Armenia for using the term genocide. In Turkey,
references to the Genocide cost Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink
his life, in an assassination plot linked to Turkish security

Although House Resolution 106 was first introduced just days after
Mr. Dink’s assassination, its consideration was delayed repeatedly,
with opponents arguing that it would cause a nationalist backlash
during elections in Turkey, where the public is already heavily
anti-American and nationalist.

But as the Turkish electoral season wrapped up and Congress returned
into session, the congressional leadership began to deliver on its
pledge to bring the resolution, which was by then backed by more than
a half House members, to a vote.

* The debate

In the days since the committee on October 2 scheduled the vote, the
president himself, the secretaries of state and defense and their
deputies, in addition to Turkish leaders and a slew of hired
lobbyists, called committee members to underline Turkey’s warnings.

In a statement made on the South Lawn of the White House hours
before the Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, President Bush told
reporters that "this resolution is not the right response to these
historic mass killings [of Armenians]. Its passage would do great harm
to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on
terror." He urged a no vote on the resolution.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert
Gates were on hand to play up Turkey’s importance to the U.S. war
effort and argue that congressional recognition of the genocide would
put U.S. soldiers at risk.

"This is not to ignore what was a really terrible situation. And we
recognize the feelings of those who want to express their concern and
their disdain for what happened many years ago," said Ms. Rice. "But
the passage of this resolution AT THIS TIME would indeed be very
problematic for everything that we are trying to do in the Middle East
because we are very dependent on a good Turkish strategic ally to help
with our efforts," she continued.

In a congressional briefing the next day, Ms. Pelosi was asked, "Why
do it now?"

The Speaker of the House said, "I have been in Congress for 20 years
and for 20 years people have been saying the same thing that Turkey’s
strategic location [makes it a bad time for the resolution]. We are
reiterating Americans’ acknowledgement of the Genocide. . . . As long
as there’s genocide, there’s need to speak against it."

* The vote

Mr. Lantos, the committee chair, is the only Holocaust survivor in
Congress. He began the October 10 meeting outlining arguments for and
against the measure.

"We are not considering whether the Armenian people were persecuted
and died in huge numbers at the hands of Ottoman troops in the early
20th century," he said. "There is unanimity in the Congress and across
the country that these atrocities took place. If the resolution before
us stated that fact alone, it would pass unanimously."

"The controversy lies in whether to make it United States policy at
this moment in history to apply a single word — genocide — to
encompass this enormous blot on human history," Mr. Lantos stated.
After outlining the administration’s arguments against the resolution,
he added, "This is a vote of conscience, and the committee will work
its will."

A two-hour debate ensued. Nineteen members spoke in favor of
passage, and 16 against. The remaining members of the 50-person
committee, including Mr. Lantos, did not say how they intended to
vote, leaving the outcome too close to call.

Committee members Reps. Brad Sherman (D.-Calif.), Gary Ackerman
(D.-N.Y.) and Ed Royce (R.-Calif.) led the arguments in favor. While
many of the members who spoke in favor of passage called Turkey a
good, loyal, or essential ally of the United States, Reps. Dana
Rohrabacher (R.-Calif.), Albio Sires (D.-N.J.), and Joe Crowley
(D.-N.Y.) harshly criticized Turkey for its tactics.

The administration’s lobbying succeeded in having two members, Reps.
Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) and Ruben Hinojosa (D.-Tex.) and Delegate Luis
Fortuno (R.-Puerto Rico) defect to the opposition; another past
supporter Rep. Joe Wilson (R.-S.C.) did not show up for the vote.

In the end 27 members, including Rep. Lantos, voted in favor,
assuring the resolution’s passage. While there are 27 Democrats and 23
Republicans on the committee, the vote crossed party lines.

Of the 27 members voting in favor, 19 were Democrats and 8
Republicans. Of the 21 voting against, 8 were democrats and 13
Republicans. Two Republicans were absent.

The Jewish Telegraph Agency noted that seven of eight Jewish members
of the committee voted in favor of the resolution, in spite of the
heavy lobbying by Turkish leaders for the Jewish-American
organizations to oppose passage.

* The reaction

The vote was welcomed by President Robert Kocharian and parliamentary
leaders in Armenia, and criticized by their counterparts in Turkey.
The Bush Administration expressed "regret" and a State Department
spokesperson promised to continue to fight the resolution’s adoption.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), which in recent
years has led community advocacy on the issue, said "the vote
represents a meaningful step toward reclaiming our right — as
Americans — to speak openly and honestly about the first genocide of
the 20th century, free from the gag rule that Turkey has, for far too
long, sought to impose on nation’s elected officials."

The U.S.-Armenia Public Affairs Committee (USAPAC) called the vote
"a powerful statement of truth to power."

The Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) welcomed the decision as "a
historic day and a critically important step forward."

All organizations thanked Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Lantos, the
resolution’s original co-sponsors Reps. Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.),
George Radanovich (R.-Calif.), Frank Pallone (D.-N.J.) and Joe
Knollenberg (R.-Mich.) and other members of Congress for their
leadership, and said they looked forward to the prompt passage of the
resolution by the House of Representatives.

* The impact

Even before consideration by the full House of Representatives, and
in large part owing to President Bush’s efforts to oppose it, the
Armenian Genocide has received an unprecedented level of worldwide
media attention. The story headlined reporting by virtually all major
television channels and featured in every major newspaper around the

While the coverage focused on the threats of Turkish retaliation,
for many in the world it provided a first-ever opportunity to learn
about the Armenian Genocide and its continued relevance today.

At the same time the administration’s lobbying has had an impact on
some of the 226 co-sponsors of the resolution, making eventual passage
more difficult.

In the past, some Turkish members of parliament have also threatened
to retaliate against Armenia by banning Armenian civilian flights over
Turkey’s territory and restricting Armenian citizens’ entry into the
country — something Turkish governments have done in the past. That
has not stopped the Armenian government from speaking in favor of

Opponents of the resolution have also argued that U.S. defense
companies may suffer, as Turkey is increasingly turning to alternative
sources of weapons and technology. They also suggest that Turkey may
undermine U.S. military’s logistical lines that run through Turkey.

But U.S. military officials told the NEW YORK TIMES on October 12
that any impact on U.S. military would be of a short-term nature and
contingency plans have already been put in place to resupply U.S.
forces in Iraq through Jordan and Kuwait.

In his PBS interview, Mr. Lantos said that he "has much higher
regard for the intelligence of our Turkish friends and for their sense
of responsibility. I don’t think they will [retaliate]. I think it is
demeaning to the Turks [to think] that they will take such an
irresponsible action."

And Turkish officials appear ready to bargain. On a visit to
Washington, Egemen Bagis, a senior member of Turkish parliament from
the ruling party, suggested that Ankara may not retaliate against U.S.
after all if Washington helps neutralize anti-Turkey Kurdish forces in
northern Iraq, reported on October 11.

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2. Catholicos Karekin’s first week in U.S. includes a prayer to open Congress

NEW YORK — The first week of Catholicos Karekin II’s pontifical visit
to the Eastern Diocese began with a clergy retreat on Long Island. The
week culminated in Washington, where the Catholicos met with House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and delivered the opening prayer before Congress,
on the very day that the Armenian Genocide resolution was scheduled
for a vote by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In between was a four-day sojourn in New England, where the region’s
large Armenian community had numerous opportunities to see and
interact with their pontiff, including several youth gatherings, a
Pontifical Divine Liturgy, a gala banquet, and a cornerstone-blessing
ceremony for a new church.

While in Boston Catholicos Karekin also met with figures from the
region’s ecumenical and interfaith communities, and made a pilgrimage
to the New England Holocaust Memorial.

In Washington he met with local parishioners as well as community
leaders — the latter during a dinner at the Italian Embassy — and
traveled to a Habitat for Humanity construction site, where he
pronounced his blessing on both the project and the future occupants.

The ARMENIAN REPORTER’s correspondent Antranig Dereyan has been
traveling with the pontifical entourage for the duration, capturing
the tour’s momentum as it progresses through the 16-stop itinerary,
and giving an insider’s perspective on some of its more informal
moments. Our exclusive coverage begins in this issue.

See item 6 below and the Community section of this newspaper.

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3. From Washington, in brief

by Emil Sanamyan

* U.S. security officials flock to the Caucasus

America’s preoccupation with Iran continues to contribute to a steady
stream of security officials visiting the Caucasus, particularly
Azerbaijan, which shares both a land and maritime borders with the
Islamic republic.

On October 11 one of the coordinators of America’s Iran policy,
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Debra Cagan was in Armenia,
where she thanked its leaders for the country’s contribution to the
U.S. effort in Iraq and praised Armenian soldiers that she met there
as "brave and courageous."

Ten days earlier, on October 1, Ms. Cagan was in Azerbaijan to
discuss military cooperation, Interfax reported. And during a
September 11 meeting, Ms. Cagan reportedly "intimidated" a group of
British parliamentarians with her rhetoric on Iran, London’s DAILY
MAIL claimed on September 29.

On September 27 CIA Director Michael Hayden made a stopover in Baku
while on a regional tour, to discuss, as Azerbaijani news agencies
reported, a possible exchange of intelligence information and regional
developments. Two House Intelligence Committee members visited
Azerbaijan earlier this year.

In mid-September deputy director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency
Brig. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly together with Russian security officials
visited the Gabala early warning radar in Azerbaijan.

Russia offered U.S. to use the Russian facility at Gabala as an
alternative to building facilities in central Europe, which Moscow
argues can be used against its interests (see this column in July 7
ARMENIAN REPORTER). While U.S. officials have declined the trade off,
they did not rule out other forms of missile defense cooperation with

Meantime, a senior Azerbaijani official warned that possible U.S.
use of the Gabala radar would pose a threat to Azerbaijan, RFE/RL
reported on September 20 citing Turan and The AP. Deputy Foreign
Minister Araz Azimov said that in such an event his country would need
"security guarantees" from the United States. Fearing Iranian
retaliation, Azeri officials have repeatedly said they would not allow
U.S. to launch attacks from its territory.

* Europe’s Caucasus envoy speaks of "broken region"

In October 2 testimony to the European Parliament’s Foreign Relations
Committee, the European Union’s envoy for the Caucasus Peter Semneby
said that "old-fashioned, ethnically exclusive" nationalism remains
dominant in the region, RFE/RL reported the next day.

Amb. Semneby said that Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia lack a common
identity. "Given the rivalries between and inside the countries, this
identity has to be larger than the region itself," he said. "An
additional layer of identity, a European identity, is what comes to
mind here."

The European envoy said that such an identity could bring the region
together based both on shared interests and common values.

In Amb. Semneby’s assessment Georgia was most advanced along the
European path, but also the most vulnerable due to its conflicts with
Russia. The EU, he said, had no intention of siding with Georgia in
these conflicts and would continue to work with governments of
Russian-backed South Ossetia and Abkhazia and in conjunction with
Russia itself.

In the Karabakh conflict, EU will focus on confidence-building
measures to overcome the existing isolation between Armenians and
Azeris. On domestic issues, Amb. Semneby noted that Armenia’s May
parliamentary elections marked an improvement on previous polls, while
in Azerbaijan the human rights situation continued to deteriorate.

* * *

In recent weeks, the European Parliament Foreign Relations Committee
has also been discussing an annual report on EU’s relations with
Turkey. The European Armenian Federation (EAF) criticized the removal
of a passage on the Armenian Genocide from the draft report prepared
by a Dutch Christian Democratic MEP and has advocated a reinstatement
of the reference.

EAF also reported on October 3 that the same Dutch party decided to
withdraw a nominee for the European Parliament over his denial of the
Armenian Genocide. Mr. Osman Elmaci, a Dutch citizen of Turkish
descent, had already been disqualified to run in national elections
for the same reason.

* Russia’s Putin hints at staying in power beyond 2008

President Vladimir Putin said on October 1 that he would lead the list
of the ruling United Russia Party in December parliamentary elections
and may subsequently become prime minister, although, he has yet to
make a final decision, Russian and international news media reported.

Mr. Putin is completing his second four-year presidential term in
March and is not eligible to run in that election. However,
commentators in Russia and abroad have speculated that Mr. Putin could
work to amend the constitution, shifting power to the post of prime
minister, which he would assume.

Or, alternatively, he could temporarily hand presidential power over
to a loyalist only to run for the presidency again in an early
election, thus obviating the ban on serving more than two successive

In a surprise move last month, Mr. Putin named a largely unknown
bureaucrat Viktor Zubkov as prime minister (see this column in
September 15 ARMENIAN REPORTER). In another surprise move he appointed
the outgoing Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov as director of foreign

For now, with a high public approval rating and unrivaled influence,
future developments in Russia appear to be fully up to Mr. Putin.

* Georgian president’s challenger recants, leaves politics

A former ally of the Georgian president who just days ago accused
him of a slew of crimes and was subsequently arrested has now recanted
and reportedly decided to leave politics, Georgian and international
media reported.

Irakly Okruashvili, a former influential member of President Mikhail
Saakashvili’s government, also posted a more than $6 million in bail
money to be released from prison before his trial on corruption
charges, to which he pled guilty. Georgian television showed an
irritated Mr. Okruashvili as he said his allegations against the
president were not true and that he himself was involved in criminal

Upon his release Mr. Okruashvili decided to leave politics,
reported on October 11, having just set up an opposition political
party. Still, political parties in opposition to the president said
they would go ahead with the protests, claiming that Mr. Okruashvili
gave his testimony under duress.

The president’s allies, meantime, claimed that the allegations
against the president were part of a "conspiracy" against the country
involving an influential businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili who has
been at odds with the government for some time.

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

4. In turnaround, California Rep. Jane Harman joins effort to defeat
Genocide resolution

LOS ANGELES — Rep. Jane Harman, a co-sponsor of the Armenian Genocide
resolution in the House of Representative, quietly sent a letter dated
October 3 to Rep. Tom Lantos (D.-Calif.), chair of the House Foreign
Affairs Committee, urging him to withdraw the resolution from
consideration. The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)
obtained the letter, after which Ms. Harman published it on her

Ms. Harman, who represents Southern California’s South Bay area,
wrote that she had visited Turkey earlier this year and had met with
the prime minister. She also invoked the name of the Armenian
Patriarch, and "colleagues of murdered journalist Hrant Dink." As a
result, she wrote, she has "great concern" that "this is the wrong
time for Congress to consider this measure."

The LOS ANGELES TIMES excoriated Ms. Harman’s turnaround in an
October 10 editorial, "Harman wobbles on genocide."

Harman "is not shy about using the word genocide, and defends her
flip-flop on grounds of exercising foreign policy ‘realism,’" the
TIMES wrote. "But ‘realism’ is not respected by denying reality, and
friendship is best expressed through honesty, not the indulgence of
irrational threats."

In justifying her decision to oppose the resolution at this time,
Ms. Harman wrote that passage "would be destabilizing" to
Armenian-Turkish relations. In response to the same argument in a
letter from former U.S. secretaries of state, Armenia’s foreign
minister, Vartan Oskanian, wrote on September 29, "Expressing concern
about damaging a process that doesn’t exist is disingenuous."

On October 6, members of the Armenian Youth Federation confronted
Ms. Harman at a rally for State Assembly candidate Warren Furutani,
the local DAILY BREEZE reported. The activists chanted, "Hypocrite,
liar, genocide denier."

Zanku Armenian, a spokesperson for the ANCA said activists would
follow the member of Congress around and the protests would continue
"to the point where people are not going to want to invite her because
she will be radioactive," the DAILY BREEZE reported.

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

5. Excerpts from the debate on House Resolution 106

On October 10 the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted House
Resolution 106, the Armenian Genocide resolution, 27 to 21.

Tom Lantos (D.-Calif.), Chair:

"Today we are not considering whether the Armenian people were
persecuted and died in huge numbers at the hands of Ottoman troops in
the early 20th century. There is unanimity in the Congress and across
the country that these atrocities took place.

"If the resolution before us stated that fact alone, it would pass

"The controversy lies in whether to make it United States policy at
this moment in history to apply a single word, genocide, to encompass
this enormous blot on human history.

"The leadership of the United States has been in universal agreement
in condemning the atrocities but has been divided about using the term

"On one occasion, President Ronald Reagan referred to, I quote, ‘The
genocide of the Armenians.’

"But subsequent presidents George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton
and George W. Bush have refrained from using the word, out of
deference to Turkish sentiments on the matter.

"All eight living former secretaries of state recently cautioned
Congress that passage of this resolution could endanger our troops in
Iraq and Afghanistan and damage efforts to promote reconciliation
between Armenia and Turkey.’

"Three former secretaries of defense, Carlucci, Cohen and Perry,
this week advised Congress that passage of this resolution would have
a detrimental effect on the operational capabilities, safety and
well-being of our armed forces in Iraq and in Afghanistan.’

"Members of this committee have a sobering choice to make. We have
to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people
and to condemn this historic nightmare through the use of the word
genocide against that — the risk that it — it could cause young men
and women in the uniform of the United States armed services to pay an
even heavier price than they are currently paying. This is a vote of
conscience and the committee will work its will."

Brad Sherman (D.-Calif):

"My colleagues, we are here again considering an Armenian genocide
resolution. Our committee has done this three times in the last
decade. And once the Judiciary Committee dealt with a resolution
crafted to meet its jurisdiction.

"We have never had a vote on the floor. And there are those that say
that every time we discuss this resolution in committee, it’s an
irritant to our relationship with Turkey.

"That’s the best reason to vote for it here and on the floor.

"Let us do this and be done with it. We will get a few angry words
out of Ankara for a few days, and then it’s over.

"If this irritates our relationship with Turkey, let’s stop the
irritation by recognizing the truth.

"Only one thing has changed, and that is a ferocious lobbying effort
has been brought to this commit

"The best example is the big battle in the French parliament. In
2001, Turkey threatened France with a boycott of French goods. The
result: France passed the genocide resolution and Turkey’s imports
from France skyrocketed, tripled as shown in this chart, in just a few
years.I n addition, Turkey’s bilateral trade increased significantly."

Christopher H Smith (R.-N.J.)

"The sad truth is that the modern government of Turkey refuses to
come to terms with this genocide. I would note here that members of
the House, Democrats and Republicans, are friends of Turkey. I
consider myself a friend of Turkey.

"But friends don’t let friends commit crimes against humanity —
genocide — and then act as witting or unwitting accomplices in their
denial after they have committed."

Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY)

"I would first like to recognize four people who have joined us
today. Two of them are from my district, from the Armenian Home in
Flushing, New York.

"Perouz Kaloustian .She was born in 1909, Harput, Turkey, and is 98 years old.

"Onorik Eminian, who was born in 1912 in Izmir, Turkey, and is 95.

"Yeretzgeen Sirarpi Khoyan, who was born in Istanbul, Turkey.

"Askouhy Jaliyan Vassilian, who was born in Ofra, Turkey, who is 93
years old, and is from Mr. Pallone’s district, who is with us today.

"As their age would indicate, each is an Armenian survivor who have
longed to be someplace like this, on this day.

"We’ve indeed been told the timing is bad. In all the years that
I’ve been here, the timing was always bad, and I can’t think of a time
when the timing is not going to be bad. But the timing was bad for the
Armenian people in 1915, and nothing is going to change that either."

Dan Burton (R.-Ind.):

"I understand the tragedy that occurred. I feel very bad about these
ladies who are here today and these gentlemen who are here today who
lived through part of that. It’s regrettable — horrible — that that

"But to come to an end like this right now jeopardizes the security
of our interests — our interests — in the Middle East."

Dana Rohrabacher (R.-Calif.)

"Isn’t it enough that hundreds of our service members may have died
due to Turkish refusal to permit the 4th Infantry Division to transit
through Turkey and enter Iraq at the beginning of the Iraq conflict?

"Isn’t that enough?

"Year after year, we actively encourage democracy and free elections
in that country. Year after year, we do everything we can to urge the
military in Turkey to stay out of politics and remain in their

"And perhaps — perhaps, you know, if we have to bend over backwards
in continually doing favors and continually — and ignore the truth,
well, maybe Turkey isn’t ready for E.U. membership, if it demands that
we base relationships on denying the truth.

"Perhaps they are not as good as friends of the United States as
they profess, if they are going to threaten to cut off American
military troops, after they already committed an action that cost our
lives of our soldiers."

Donald Payne (D.-N.J.):

"I think that we should stand up on principle. The question is
whether genocide occurred or not. Ten years from now, if Turkey’s
turned against us, then it can pass? It doesn’t change the facts. The
facts are the facts, and that’s what we should vote on, the facts."

Ed Royce (R.-Calif.):

"This resolution focuses singularly on the United States’ record of
the Armenian genocide.

"The U. S. has long been a global leader in promoting human rights
around the world. We all know this. But on this issue, the issue of
the Armenian genocide, we lag behind.

"The French, the Swiss, the Swedish, the Germans, even the Russian
government, recognize the Armenian genocide.

"As a global leader in human rights, it is imperative for the United
States to stand on principle and recognize the annihilation of the
Armenians as genocide. "

Robert Wexler (D.-Fla.):

"I speak in opposition to this resolution. I do so with deep
reservations, given the importance of this resolution to Armenian-

"I urge my colleagues to heed the words of Mesrob II, the spiritual
leader of the Armenian Orthodox community in Turkey, who recently said
the Armenian Genocide resolution pending in the United States Congress
disrupts both the relations between Turkish people and Armenians in
Turkey, and between Turkey and Armenia.

"Mr. Chairman, passage of this resolution is not in the interest of
our national security and will damage our longstanding relationship
with our NATO ally Turkey."

Eliot L. Engel (D.-N.Y.)

"People suffered greatly. And the best way to move on to the future
is by acknowledging what happened in the past.

"And so, Mr. Chairman, with a heavy heart, I will vote for this
resolution today. But I think that sometimes we really need to
reconsider or consider whether some resolutions that we vote for can,
indeed, be counterproductive."

Tom Tancredo (R.-Colo.)

"I do not know how deeply we need to look into the dustbin of
history to find how this — I guarantee this committee could spend all
of its time that’s allotted doing exactly that, looking into the
dustbin of history at every imaginable wrong that has been committed
by every imaginable or, in fact, real empire that has long since
passed away.

"Whether it is the Ottoman Empire, the Japanese Empire, the
Austro-Hungarian Empire, or, indeed, the Roman Empire. I mean, we
could go on for a long time condemning the atrocities committed under
each of these regimes. It is not productive. It is not — it is no
longer productive to do so today."

Howard L. Berman (D.-Calif.):

"The International Association of Genocide Scholars [stated:] As
crimes of genocide continue to plague the world, Turkey’s policy of
denying the Armenian Genocide gives license to those who perpetrate
genocide everywhere."

Mike Pence (R-Ind.):

"I rise in opposition to this measure, but I do it with a heavy heart.

"Mr. Chairman, let me be clear. There was a genocide committed
against the Armenians in the period beginning in 1915. It is with this
belief that I have supported a similar resolution in the past.

"At a time that we are at war, we must do that which is in our
nation’s interest and the interests of our soldiers down range."

J. Gresham Barrett (R.-S.C.):

"I cannot stress the harm that I believe could come to our national
security interests in the region and our troops in Iraq and

Diane E. Watson (D.-Calif.):

"Opponents of H.R. 106 argue that the resolution, if passed, would
upset our ally, Turkey, causing it to retaliate against U.S.
interests. Turkey, itself, at various levels channels, has suggested
so much.

"I believe, however, that Turkey would not be acting in its best
interests if it was to opt for retaliation, particularly given the
fact that 11 other members of NATO, including Canada, have recognized
the Armenian Genocide."

Ted Poe (R.-Tex.):

"The question I have is, what’s best for the United States? I think
that’s probably an appropriate decision to be made on this
issue.What’s best for American interest and America, especially in the
Middle East.

"So, my vote is not what’s best for Armenia or even what’s best for
Turkey — my vote is going to be what’s best for American interest —
American national security interest — what’s best for our troops that
are in Iraq at a war and in Afghanistan in a war."

Sheila Jackson Lee (D.-Tex.):

"I will say that I am greatly impressed with the ambassador from
Turkey and many of his supporters who have worked in these waning
hours on the beliefs that they have.

"I’m equally moved, and more moved, by those from the Armenian
community who have toiled year after year to educate this nation on
the important issue which they want addressed.

"In Texas, someone who is in the middle of the road is usually
called a dead armadillo, because that is likely what happens to you
when you try to broach a compromise.

"I hope my friends in Turkey will realize that engagement is
important, not last minute shuffling and pushing, but engagement,
ongoing establishment of relationships.

"For those of us who have abhorred Rwanda and Sudan — cannot find
it in our heart to ignore the Armenian people. And I am saddened that
it has come to the point that Turkey would feel that this is an
indictment against the friendship that we have had."

Mike Bilirakis (R.-Fla.):

"The reality is that the Armenian Genocide must not be put on the
back burner of history for fear of acknowledging the truth or fending
our ally, Turkey."

Joseph Crowley (D.-N.Y.)

"Shame on anyone who would try to use the lives of our young men and
women in the position that they are faced themselves in in Iraq today
or anywhere else in this world because of this resolution that we’re
putting forward today."

David Wu (D.-Ore.)

"I think that we should act, today, on the truth in order that those
who suffered and their family members can move on, that Turkey can
face its past. And if we, in this chamber, so well-protected and, in
fact, selected to come here to speak the truth, are concerned about
doing that for passing factors, than I think the truth will have a
hard time any time, anywhere in the world."

George Miller (R.-Calif.):

"I dearly wish that if this Congress passed this resolution that
modern day Turkey would feel chastened, would pause, would examine
what happened, would decide if there was something they needed to do
to acknowledge and bewail their manifold sins and wickedness, to do
something about it.

"I fear instead — or I feel certain instead that there would be
none of that. There would simply be a sense of being insulted. There
would be anger, not any sense of being chastened.

"But with great misgivings, I will vote against this resolution today."

Jim Costa (D.-Calif.):

"When Russia recognized the genocide in 1995, their trade increased
with Turkey by over 351 percent.

When Greece recognized the genocide, who have had tensions over the
decades with Turkey, in 1996, their trade increased by 266 percent.

And, yes, the European Union parliament passed last year a set of
conditions, economic conditions and social conditions prior to the
entry of Turkey into the European Union, and one of those conditions
was the recognition of the genocide. And, yes, Turkey still is
attempting to enter into the European Union."

Albio Sires (D-N.J.):

"I feel pressured. I feel like I have a Turkish sword over my head
somehow if I vote the wrong way here. And I don’t like that feeling."

Ron Klein (D.-Fla.):

"And I think the reason that I believe it is important that this
historical event is acknowledged and understood is what the survivors
of the Holocaust use as their two-word phrase: Never again."

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

6. Genocide resolution looms large over Karekin II’s visit to Washington

* On the Road with Catholicos Karekin II

by Antranig Dereyan

WASHINGTON — Wednesday, October 10, 2007, will likely become one of
those dates that enters the Armenian consciousness and takes on a
meaning of its own. But before the day’s amazing results electrified
and unified Armenian-Americans from coast to coast, it began much like
any other.

Wednesday was the second day of Catholicos Karekin II’s visit to
Washington, and by a happy coincidence he was scheduled to deliver the
opening prayer before Congress on the very day that House Resolution
106 — the Armenian Genocide resolution — was scheduled to be voted
on by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In the House chamber, Vehapar was introduced by Speaker Nancy
Pelosi, and gave his prayer at 9:00 a.m., which included a reference
to the "victims of the Armenian Genocide," and to its consequences
felt to this day. (See the sidebar for the text of the prayer
itself.). Following this he was led to Speaker Pelosi’s private office
for a meeting.

The meeting was closed to media and personnel, except for the
Catholicos’ immediate entourage. But sources who attended the meeting
reported that the Speaker told the Catholicos that a good deal of
pressure had been brought to bear, both from Turkey and from U.S.
officials, to halt the passage of the bill.

(Minutes after the Catholicos delivered his prayer, President Bush
gave a brief statement on the White House lawn acknowledging the
"tragic suffering of the Armenian people that began in 1915," but
adding: "This resolution is not the right response to those historic
mass killings.")

According to the same eyewitness, Ms. Pelosi gave a personal
assurance that she and her colleagues would try to pass the bill, and
do their best to bring about a just solution.

According to the Catholicos’s aid and official translator, Fr. Ktrij
Devejian, the pontiff was pleased with the meeting and "thanked the
Speaker for all the assistance and support that the United States
government has given to the Republic of Armenian during these last 16
year of freedom and independence. He then invited Speaker Pelosi to
come to Armenia," Fr. Devejian said.

* The results come in…

With the actual committee vote still several hours away, and its end
result still very much in question, the pontifical entourage went
forward with its schedule for the day.

As the Genocide resolution reached the committee around 1:30 p.m.,
the Catholicos was visiting the United States Holocaust Museum.

The final stop of the afternoon was the Embassy of the Republic of
Armenia, where ambassadors from Libya, Russia, and Belarus were on
hand to meet and talk with the Catholicos.

"I just met him today; I wanted to send my regards to him and his
people," said the Belorussian ambassador to the U.S., Mikhail

After exchanging pleasantries, it was back to the hotel for Vehapar
for a brief rest. But everyone on the tour was keen to keep their eyes
on the ongoing tally for H. Res. 106.

At 5:12 p.m EST, the final result was in, with the Congressional
committee voting 27-21 in favor of sending the bill to the rest of the

Vehapar was ecstatic at the news, and the bill’s passage formed the
topic of remarks and conversation at events through the rest of the

These included a short service with the youth of Washington’s St.
Mary Church, where Catholicos Karekin wore an especially broad smile
as the parish children performed musical numbers, and approached their
Vehapar to greet him and express their affection — some even sitting
on his lap to converse with him.

Although the Catholicos made his habitual point of encouraging the
children to learn Armenian, he broke his usual routine and addressed
the children in English. The resolution was his main topic.

"I was very happy to see this bill get passed," he said. "It gives
great honor not only to be Armenian, but to our ancestors who fought
for this day to one day come. Now their fighting will not be
unrecognized. I am proud — as you all should be proud to be
Armenians. This bill is a step in the right direction. I thank God for
this day, and for allowing me to be here to see this happen."

The sentiment was reiterated by the Diocesan Primate, Archbishop
Khajag Barsamian, who has also expended a great deal of time and
effort on gaining official recognition of the Genocide. "It is a
blessing that Vehapar was here on this date to pray at Congress, to be
here to witness the bill passing," he said.

The evening ended with a dinner for with community leaders at a
local restaurant, where again the conversation turned to the
resolution. "I am glad it has passed," said Karekin II, again
addressing the crowd mainly in English. "But we still have a long ways
to go — in Armenia, Turkey, and the United States. This was a good
first step, of which I am proud."

* * *

The opening prayer delivered by Catholicos Karekin II before the
U.S. House of Representatives, October 10, 2007

"Lord, we thank you for bestowing us with the grace to pray today
for the leaders of this nation, who labor in the universal cause of
liberty and justice. Increase their wisdom and resolution. Their
actions grant inspiration and fulfillment to the desire for justice
that lives in every heart.

"Our Father in heaven, render guidance to all nations, including the
Republic of Armenia — our homeland, and center of our faith — the
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

"With the solemn burden of history, we remember the victims of the
Genocide of the Armenians, the consequences of which are still felt by
the entire world in new manifestations of genocide. Grant rest to the
souls of all victims of crimes against humanity, and bestow peace and
justice on their descendants. Give pause to those who trample life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

"Lord, bless this land and people. Grant peace and safety to
America’s sons and daughters who serve their nation abroad. May the
United States continue her mission as a great beacon of hope. Amen."

* * *

For other installments of "On the road," see the Community section of
this newspaper.

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

7. Two Iraqi-Armenian women killed by security guards

by Emil Sanamyan

WASHINGTON — The Armenian community suffered another loss as two
women were shot and killed amid continuing violence in Iraq this week.

The victims, identified as Marou Awanis and Geneva Jalal, were in a
car traveling next to a convoy protected by Unity Resources Group, an
Australian security firm contracted by the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID).

The group’s representative claimed that its guards opened fire when
the car failed to slow down after several warnings. The incident
occurred on October 9 along the main street in central Baghdad’s
Karrada neighborhood.

According to , riding in the car with the women
were two children, one of whom was shot in the arm.

According to the site, 76 other civilians were confirmed killed on
the same day in various circumstances around Iraq. The total death
toll since the U.S. invasion in 2003 is estimated at nearly 80,000.

Private security companies which protect U.S. and other foreign
personnel working in Iraq have been criticized for excessive use of
force, particularly after guards working for Blackwater USA were
blamed for the deaths of 17 civilians in a single incident last month.

Unity provides services for RTI International, a governance
development consultant based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and
contracted by USAID for projects around the world.

Rev. Narek Ishkhanian, a priest at Baghdad’s Virgin Mary Armenian
church, who officiated at the women’s funeral, told the TIMES of
London that the shooting was "another crime against the citizens in
Iraq. Every day civilians are being killed and no one is trying to
stop it from happening."

An Iraqi police official told The Associated Press that the security
company apologized for the deaths and "was ready to meet all legal

According to the LOS ANGELES TIMES, 49-year-old Basra native Mrs.
Awanis was previously a scientist for Iraq’s Agriculture Ministry and
after the death of her husband two years ago took up chauffeuring to
make ends meet. She is survived by three daughters, aged 12, 20, and

No further information on Ms. Jelal, born in 1977, was available.

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

8. Armenia’s foreign policy is being tested, but does not need to
change, says Oskanian at Tufts

by Ara Nazarian

BOSTON — Armenia’s foreign minister, Vartan Oskanian, delivered a
speech at Tufts University on Friday, October 5. His formal address
was part of the university’s Charles Francis Adams lecture series on
diplomacy and small states.

Mr. Oskanian touched on the changes in world policy following the
collapse of the Soviet Union, where many incorrectly envisioned a more
harmonious and peaceful world. Today, the world is more unstable and
less secure than before, even for large countries, he said, and much
more so for small nations with limited resources and smaller, less
diverse populations.

For instance, Mr. Oskanian said, when Darfur becomes shorthand for
humiliation, political expediency, and inaction, small countries
become especially worried that political gains will be substituted for
basic human rights. The capacity of smaller nations to be a part of
the world is rapidly diminishing, given the glaring inadequacies of
the new policies following the collapse of the old global system.

To that end, Mr. Oskanian explained, Armenia has adopted a
complementary foreign policy, yet still finds itself a victim of
regional problems. Although the young republic has put the difficult
days of the early 1990s behind it, problems such as closed borders,
the threat of war, and delicate relationships with neighbors still

During the past 16 years much has changed, he said, yet the essence
of the problems is still there. While Armenia enjoys good relations
with Georgia and Iran, Russo-Georgian tensions along with sanctions
facing Iran are restraining Armenia’s maneuverability. This matter is
further complicated by the current tensions between the U.S. and
Russia. So, while the foreign policy of Armenia is being tested
vigorously, it is not at a point where a change of course is imminent
or necessary.

Mr. Oskanian suggested that Armenia must carefully plan and execute
its long-term national interests, and not be a party to policies with
short-sighted gains, while being considerate to countries with
considerable interest and clout in the area. He stated that the two
main problems currently facing Armenia are the independence of
Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and the state of relationships with Turkey.
Azerbaijan must come to terms with Karabakh’s right of
self-determination, as no one can accept the notion that there is a
quota on liberty and self-determination. He mentioned that the
Armenian and Azerbaijani public are facing a "trust deficit," which
makes the negotiation process much more cumbersome. To that end, he
praised a recent meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani intellectuals as
an important step in dispelling the animosities between the nations
resulting from lack of dialogue.

* Turkey’s lost leverage against Armenia

Mr. Oskanian then spoke of Turkey’s continued placement of
pre-conditions for normalization of diplomatic relations with Armenia.
He mentioned that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide has always
been and will continue to be part of Armenia’s foreign policy, and its
moral right. He spoke of his recent letter to House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi in response to a letter sent to her by eight previous U.S.
secretaries of state regarding the Armenian Genocide resolution; the
co-signers had warned that passage of the resolution would undermine
Turkish-Armenian efforts to reconcile.

Mr. Oskanian took serious issue with that position, since there are
currently no reconciliation efforts on the table, due to the stance
taken by the Turkish government. He referred to Turkey’s continued
blockade of the border and other preconditions as an act of hostility
directly aimed at putting pressure on Armenia to make unilateral
compromises. However, Turkey’s blockade has made the Armenian economy
adapt to the situation, and it has grown in spite of the imposed

So while it would have been better to enjoy open borders with
Turkey, Oskanian said, Armenia has adapted to the environment, and
Turkey has lost this as leverage against Armenia. In short, Turkey is
placing short-sighted ethnic interests regarding Nagorno-Karabakh
ahead of its influential role in the region.

To conclude, Mr. Oskanian summarized Armenia’s situation as being
far from helpless. While Armenia is in a difficult neighborhood and
faces difficult challenges, it has made remarkable strides, with seven
years of double-digit economic growth, improved elections, a
significantly reduced outflow of population, and an awareness among
the general public of its rights.

Still, he said, much work must be aimed at increasing wages,
fighting poverty, and overcoming the inequality of growth.

Prior to his remarks, Mr. Oskanian was awarded the Fletcher School
of Law and Diplomacy’s "Dean’s Medal," joining a select group of
previous award recipients including Dr. Hassan Wirajuda, Foreign
Minister of Indonesia; Gov. William Richardson of New Mexico; Sen.
Richard Lugar of Indiana; and the late Konstantinos Karamanlis, Prime
Minister of Greece.

As a Fletcher School alumnus, Mr. Oskanian reflected on the
emotional moment of receiving the award in the company of friends and
former professors, especially in light of the longstanding
relationship between Tufts University, the Republic of Armenia, and
the Armenian-American diaspora in New England. Mr. Oskanian praised
the vision of Aso Davitian, who established the Tufts Diplomacy
certificate program for officials of the Republic of Armenia (which
has yielded 75 graduates so far), and the tireless efforts of Dr.
Joyce and Dr. John Barsam, who oversee this essential program. He
expressed his sincere wish for the program’s continuation.

Vartan Oskanian was appointed minister of foreign affairs by
President Robert Kocharian in 1998. He was born in Syria in 1955 and
was educated at Aleppo’s Armenian schools. He received a bachelor of
science degree in structural engineering from the Yerevan Polytechnic
Institute in 1979 and a master’s degree in Engineering from Tufts
University in 1983. While at Tufts, Mr. Oskanian became interested in
government and international relations programs, and went on to
receive a master of arts degree in law and diplomacy.

Mr. Oskanian also holds a master’s degree in government studies from
Harvard University.

He has represented Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace
negotiations since the inception of the process. He speaks Armenian,
English, French, Arabic, and Russian, and is a trustee of the Armenian

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

9. An exclusive interview with Vahe Aghabegians, executive director of
the Armenia Fund

by Maria Titizian

It’s early spring and the snow is melting across the land. Vahe
Aghabegians visits Akhurik village on the border of Turkey a few
months prior to his appointment as the new executive director of the
Armenia Fund. The village is built on an incline and as the snow is
melting it has created canals of running water. One of those canals is
running straight into a house undoubtedly causing substantial damage.
>From a distance Mr. Aghabegians can see an elderly man trying to
divert the direction of the stream of water away from his house with a
shovel. His young grandchildren are assembled around him. As
Aghabegians comes closer to take a picture he realizes that the old
man is blind. Being too young to handle the shovel the grandchildren
are giving verbal instructions to their grandfather on how to shovel
the dirt to swerve the stream of water.

This is the harsh reality of life in the villages of Armenia. The
able bodied men have left in search of employment, usually to the far
reaches of the Russian Federation. The women have also left. Leaving
only the elderly behind who take on the burden of caring for their
grandchildren. One is hard pressed to find people between the ages of
20-50 in any village.

Even with double digit economic growth in Armenia, there has been no
direct benefit to the villages, especially border villages which
continue to lack the basic, fundamental necessities.

This is where the Armenia Fund has stepped up to the challenge. And
what a challenge it is.

* The birth of the Rural Development Program

During the first years of the Armenia Fund, its mandate was to secure
emergency assistance to a weary population.

As the situation in the country has changed, so has the mandate of
the Armenia Fund. The Rural Development program was conceived during
the third Disapora Conference and then adopted by the Board of
Trustees of the Armenia Fund. According to Mr. Aghabegians, "The fund
had already secured benefactors to sponsor 40 villages at a $1 million
each, even before the Fund adopted this program."

The Trustees view the Rural Development Program as an integral part
of the Fund’s mandate. They consider this program to be a natural
continuation of the Fund’s initial work to develop a vital link
between Armenia and Karabakh; to continue with regional development
with Karabakh and extend the concept of comprehensive infrastructure
and economic development to the border villages of Armenia.

It is universally recognized that every state is obligated to
provide it’s citizens with the most basic and fundamental necessities
in order to have a dignified life, regardless of whether they live in
the cities or the villages. Although the Republic of Armenia strives
to provide these services and is obligated to do so, the reality today
is that due to a lack of resources there is an absence of
infrastructure, markets, capital and know-how in these regions.
Thereby villages and predominantly border villages which are
strategically vital to ensure the security of the republic are in
decay. This is where the Armenia Fund will come in to fill in the gaps
left behind by government.

The Rural Development Program will partner with the Diaspora,
individual sponsors, international organizations and individual
countries for assistance and support.

The Armenia Fund has identified 150 border villages which will fall
into this program. "We have chosen border villages as the main focus
of the Rural Development Program as they have vital strategic and
economic significance for the future of the country. Integrating these
communities into our country’s economy will revive these villages and
prevent hopelessness and emigration," says Mr. Aghabegians.

* Tavush Khastarak Cluster

Vahe Aghabegians explains that in Armenia the border villages are very
fragile organisms. Left to their own devices they do not have the
ability to develop economically. "That is why we have developed a
cluster program — these are geographic groups, clusters or
micro-areas. We look at their human resources, potential financial
ability and they become a group and have the minimal requirements to
embark on a development program."

The program will begin with a cluster of villages in Tavush, and the
Fund will continue to identify clusters in other regions as well
complementing the Armenian government’s efforts in this area. The
villages in the Tavush cluster include Lusadzor, Lusahovit, Khastarak,
Aknaghbyur, Ditavan and Azatamut.

Funds raised will assist infrastructure development and contribute
to sustainable development programs to ensure that these areas become
economically self-sufficient.

The infrastructure development of border villages has ten key
components. These include access to education, roads, electricity,
drinking water, irrigation water, community center, access to health
care, community administration, natural gas, telecommunications which
include — telephone, Internet and TV.

According to Vahe Aghabegians this is an easy challenge for the
Armenia Fund. "We can realize these components for 150 villages with
our eyes closed. These components require construction, building…and
the Armenia fund has that experience."

After thorough research they have concluded that to secure each
village with these infrastructure components requires $1 million;
there’s a 150 villages, therefore $150 million is the amount needed.
"This is is a figure which is attainable. The idea behind our program
is different….the realization of this rebuilding (infrastructure)
will not fundamentally change the life in the village. We have in the
past gone into a village and built a school or a medical clinic or
have constructed gas lines and water lines. These have not solved
universal issues for the villagers."

Therefore this program has to include sustainability and it has to
be comprehensive.

Infrastructure alone is not a solution, there needs to be economic
stimuli to maintain the system and make it work as a practical
development tool.

Thereby when talking about comprehensive development, Vahe
Aghabegians stressed that once a road is built that road will need
constant maintenance to continue to be in good condition. Another
example he gave was in the case of bringing gas to the villages. "If
we are going to construct a 40km gas pipeline, what happens if the
villager cannot pay the gas bill? The gas company will shut off his
gas supply. What’s the point? The pipeline will remain simply a
pipeline then it will be dismantled and sold for scrap metal…we’ve
seen that happen before."

So the fundamental question remains – how to we enable the villager
to pay his utility bills? How do we economically empower the villager?

"We have tried to simplify this very complex problem — we have
simplified it to the lowest common denominator."

What are the major problems according to Mr. Aghabegians? It is
first and foremost access to markets – that’s why there is no economic
activity in the villages. "This can present the most complex economic
explanations, i.e. .economics of scale, etc. For example if the
villager has 600 kilos of potato to sell, it is not logical for him to
drive 200 km to Yerevan to sell his product." Therefore there has to
be innovative solutions like bringing the private sector in to work in
partnership with these villages. "We don’t envision that the fund will
set up businesses or go into any kind of business venture in these
border villages. We have to be the catalyst and involve the private
sector," says Mr. Aghabegians.

Many years ago, Mr. Aghabegians recalled hearing the term to
‘Armenize’ and explained why he thought this was an important factor.
Solutions that have been presented by international organizations, the
diaspora and specialists have not always worked in Armenia because
they did not address the specific uniqueness of the reality on the
ground in the country. "We have to realize and understand the unique
circumstances and conditions which exist in this country and apply any
new program accordingly. We have to ‘Armenize’ them. Even the villages
that we visit, we quickly realize how different they are from one

* The measure of success

The Armenia Fund has set out for itself what it considers the measure
of success. The Rural Development Program is not only about building
schools or pipelines. If at the end of the program they will have been
able to create economic growth and sustainability then they were

"Building 150 schools or 150 gas pipelines is not the measure of
success. We are going to go into every village and conduct a census.
Two years from now we will go back and if there is ‘minus one’ person,
then we have failed, if we have ‘plus one’ then we have succeeded."
The ultimate goal of this program is to provide a dignified existence
for the villagers, so that where they live, is where they have chosen
to live, where they want to live.

Mr. Aghabegians wants to get the point across that this program is
not simply charity work, but that it has a strategic factor. The
realization of this program is about national security taking into
consideration the relationship we have with our neighbors. It is
imperative therefore that border towns and villages be self
sufficient, the people living there be happy and willing to live

Today there is a chasm between Yerevan and the regions — all that
is required to begin spreading the wealth are small bridges. From
developing dairy farming to securing milk collection centers to a
fruit and vegetable processing plant.

Vahe Aghabegians is the first to admit that there are still so many
problems that need to be figured out. For example he says, "There are
300 villages throughout Armenia which will never receive gas. The gas
company has told the government that it will never supply gas to these
villages because it is not viable. So what do you do about those

The Armenia Fund has the sponsors lined up for 40 villages but has
yet to spend it. Mr. Aghabegians admits that there is frustration on
behalf of the sponsors. "Having this complex challenge — we have
decided not to take gambles but to understand and work in a most
responsible manner, direct finances and resources in such a way as to
ensure that they will get the best results." So it is a strange
situation for the Fund, to have sponsors but not to embark upon the
proposed program. "Sometimes we don’t have the solutions. We are
drawing a new map."

Therefore in order to realize this very ambitious plan, the Fund is
setting a slower pace, making sure that all dimensions have been taken
into consideration — one cluster at a time. This program will include
Armenia and Karabakh. There are 150 border villages in Armenia and 200
border villages in Karabakh. He estimates that one cluster will take
three years to complete. Currently there is only the Khashtarak
cluster in progress with two other potential clusters. Mr. Aghanbegian
said that the Fund has already determined where the other clusters
will be — Lori, Meghri, Syunik and Shirak.

He starts doing some calculations and says, "We will finish in 2020.
I hope that by then we will be able to say that the fund is looking
for new challenges."

* * *

* History of the Armenia Fund

The Armenia Fund was founded on March 3, 1992 through a presidential decree.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the newly independent
Republic of Armenia was facing daunting and overwhelming challenges —
the aftermath of the 1988 earthquake, the Karabakh conflict, blockade,
energy crisis and the total collapse of all public utilities. Every
Armenian wanted to help in the rebirth of the country. The Armenia
Fund brought together Armenians from all walks of life.

The years between 1992 and 1996 were remarkable for the emergency
assistance that the Armenia Fund was able to secure. The Winter 93-94
project will remain an outstanding example of the collective strength
and spirit of the Armenian people for urgently facilitating the
critical energy needs of the country. Very quickly, through the
efforts of the fund $7 million was raised which Kirk Kerkorian
tripled, bringing it to a total of $21 million.

The Fund was then entrusted with implementing major infrastructure
development projects, as a result of which it constructed the major
Goris-Stepanakert highway connecting the vital link between the
Republics of Armenia and Karabakh. In 2001, it financed the
construction of the North-South Highway. This established a road
network between cities and villages in Nagorno-Karabakh and greatly
contributed to economic growth in the country. With the completion of
these strategically important roads, the Fund successfully implemented
two major projects of regional significance.

In parallel with road building, the Fund has embarked on community
development projects including the construction and renovation of
schools, hospitals, water treatment and supply systems, power
transmission lines and cultural centers. Projects have also been
implemented in the agricultural sector.

In 2005, the Board of Trustees approved the Artsakh Rebirth
territorial development project, which opened a new page in the Fund’s
activities. The Fund revitalized and developed the Nagorno-Karabakh
regions of Martakert and Hadrout, which had particularly suffered
during the Artsakh conflict.

Since 1996, the Fund has organized annual telethons in Los Angeles,
and since 1999 phonethons.

* * *

* Tavush Khashtarak Cluster

Armenia Fund has already gone on fact finding missions to the Tavush
cluster to assess the viability of their program. One of Armenia
Fund’s working groups visited Azatamut. While the other five villages
in the cluster (Aknaghbyur, Ditavan, Lusahovit, Lusadzor, Khashtarak)
possess cultivable land and offer a logically straightforward path of
economic development, Azatamut does not. Established in the 1970s, the
village housed the workers of a nearby factory. With the fall of the
Soviet empire and the severing of trading bonds, the factory stopped
functioning, leaving most of the community members unemployed. The
village has no arable land and a significant part of the population
earns its income from labor migration.

Part of the village cluster concept is combining the economic
resources of the villages into a single mechanism, thus multiplying
the impact of the Rural Development Program economic facilitation
projects. Azatamut community has the potential of housing a key part
of the complex economic solution for the cluster including a milk
collection center, a slaughter house, a fruit conservation point and
other facilities which would serve the needs of all cluster villages.

The Armenia Fund’s role is also to partner the private sector with the
economic development of these border villages.

* * *

* Vahe Aghabegians

Born on November 26, 1952, in Tehran, Vahe Aghabegians attended the
Tehran Hur elementary school, Kushesh Davtian Armenian School, and the
Iran Farda secondary school from 1959 to 1971. From 1973 to 1975 he
studied at the Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston,
Massachusetts and received a diploma in electrical engineering. From
1975 to 1978 he continued his studies at the Northeastern University
and received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering.
>From 1975 to 1979 he worked at the Hairenik Association Inc. as the
operations manager. From 1979 to 1982 he worked at UniPrint Inc., as
its executive director. From 1982 to 1984 he was the president of
Romney Group, Inc., which deals with sporting goods import and
national distribution. From 1984 to 1998 he was the founder, president
and chief executive officer of MicroComp Enterprises, Inc. The company
deals with computer programming and business automation consulting and
worked with Fortune 500 companies throughout Southern California. From
2000 to 2002 Mr. Aghabegians worked at the Lincy Foundation PIU,
Yerevan, Armenia, as its executive director. From 1999 to present Mr.
Vahe Aghabegians serves as the advisor to the minister at the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia. He speaks three
languages — Armenian, English, and Farsi. He is married and has two

Since June 2007 Mr. Aghabegians has been the executive director of
the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund.

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

10. Market update

by Haik Papian

A. Rates

Yield to maturity curves:

The current yield curve has an almost horizontal shape with a small
increase over the maturity. It shows that Armenian and foreign
investors do not expect a yield increase of Treasury bonds in the
future. At the same time we see the clear yield difference among
securities with a maturity of less that half a year, mid- and
short-term notes (from 1 to 2 year maturity), and Treasury Notes.

Decrease in yield of securities which have maturity of 7 years could
be easily explained if we will take into consideration the depth of
the market. That is, the liquidity of Armenian securities market is
low and the number of trades is low, so we could conclude that the
market so far has not responded to changes in the market.

Exchange rates:

The diagram shows cumulative exchange rate changes for AMD/USD and
AMD/EUR currency pairs for the period of 13 July-10 August 2007.

Exchange rate quotation is presented in European terms, and the
percentage decrease/increase in the diagram means
appreciation/depreciation of Armenian dram respectively.

In the last few days Armenian Dram devaluated against both the U.S.
dollar and the euro. The depreciation was 2.7% and 1% respectively. It
is too early to make any conclusion if this is a trend or temporary
fluctuation as the volume of transactions on the Armenian stock
exchange did not undergo serious changes. This relatively small fall
of Armenian currency can be partially explained by the demand side, as
some imported items’ prices went up, which put pressure on the demand
for hard currency.

C. Indexes

Cascade Business Sentiment Index (CBSI): The Cascade Business
Sentiment Index is our approach to forecasting sentiment about
Armenia’s business trends. The Sentiment Index is based on a survey,
the respondents of which are a group of individuals who own or operate
stable and growing businesses in Armenia. The survey measures the
business owners’ expectations for the near future by addressing to
them questions and calculating the weighted average of their replies
on a numerical scale (from 1, the most pessimistic, to 10, the most
optimistic). The Cascade Business Sentiment Index for the months of
September, 2007 is 6.7. No change was observed in the last month.

Cascade Commodity Index (CCI): The index, which is the average
retail price in Armenia for certain commodities, indicates a monthly
increase in the last few months. The Cascade Commodity Index for July
– August 2007 is 15230, which is 0.46% increase over the last period.
This increase is due to the increase of corn oil prices, which was
partially neutralized by the decrease of pork prices. The commodities
tracked by the index are (1) petroleum (20 liters); (2) steel (100
kg); (3) pork (10 kg); (4) flour (10 kg); (5) corn oil (10 liters).

* * *

For tables, see the PDF version of the paper at

* * *

Haik Papian, CFA, is CEO of Cascade Investments. He can be reached at
[email protected]

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

11. Living in Armenia: Searching for Camelot

by Maria Titizian

Camelot, located nowhere in particular, can be anywhere….

My apartment is — or was — approximately a five minute drive to
work. After negotiating potholes, pedestrians, narrow roads, maniacal
drivers, and two U-turns, I turn down a ramp, the gates to CS Media
City open, I park my car and walk into the office for a day’s work.
The return is usually by the same route, the only difference being
that I might stop to buy fresh bread for dinner.

A few nights ago, the usual drive home took me well over an hour. I
don’t think I want to get into the details of why or how it happened.
I know it’s not uncommon to get stuck in traffic, but everything is
relative. Here the intersections get so mangled up by cars, creating a
situation from which it is impossible to disentangle yourself. I was
thinking I had two alternatives: abandon my car and start walking or
abandon my car, walk out into the middle of the intersection, and
start disentangling the cars from one another and direct traffic.

I understand that there will be the occasional traffic jam, even in
a city like Yerevan. It’s the REASON for the chaotic traffic that is
driving me over the brink.

Enlightened Yerevan City officials decided to embark upon extensive
roadwork, the building of bridges, and construction of underground
passes all at the same time, across all major arteries, creating
havoc, pandemonium, ultimately paralyzing the city and causing yelling
matches, fist fights, and the waving of certain fingers accompanied by
full bodily gesticulations.

I can’t blame the drivers of this city, although I might be inclined
to wallop a few of them next time they come whizzing past me, or cut
me off, or decide to drive in the opposite direction, just to try and
get ahead of the rest of us "sheep" who are patiently stuck in
gridlock. (Sheep is a term my father uses to denote people who he
thinks don’t know how to stand up for themselves. For example, if my
father walks into a bank and there’s a long line up of people and only
two tellers working, after waiting the customary three minutes, he’ll
start yelling at the top of his lungs, "You people are all sheep! Why
don’t you complain? You pay so much money in interest charges and they
only have two tellers servicing 45 people in line!" Get my drift?)

When I finally got home, my son’s tutor Therese was waiting for me.
I looked at her and all my anger and tension from the ride home
dissipated. I was home. That was the important thing. After spending a
few minutes with Therese, I realized that there is so much I take for
granted. Being behind the wheel of a car and getting stuck in traffic
is something Therese can only dream about.

Therese has been a member of our family for the past five years,
diligently helping us deal with the excessive amount of homework that
my son gets every night. She has fretted over, cajoled, and assisted
my son through the maze of complex mathematical problems and the
nuances of the Armenian language. I don’t know what we would have done
without her. She has at every step been a Godsend and we all love her

I first saw Therese the very first day my children began school back
in 2001, standing in the auditorium with all the other teachers. For
some reason she caught my attention. Little did I know back then how
intertwined our lives would become. She isn’t what one would consider
a classic beauty, but there was something about her features, the
expression in her eyes and the way she carried herself. Now after five
years of seeing her on an almost-daily basis, it was the day that I
got stuck in the traffic jam that it finally hit me: She’s a modern
day hero.

She’s Mother Armenia.

Battered, tortured, ill yet determined, strong, proud, battling
daily against adversity that would have broken a stronger human being.
I would like to tell you the story of my friend, Therese.

Her parents repatriated to Armenia in the 1940s from Greece. Like
all repatriates, regardless of the fact that she was born on Armenian
soil, she was always considered an "aghbar." As her parents adapted to
their new country, Therese went on to university receiving a degree in
mechanical engineering and began working when she met her future
husband. Falling in love was one thing; reality was something else.
They got married and went on to have two children.

And then came the "moot darinere" (the dark years). Therese would
walk for miles to get to work. There was no public transportation. And
then winter came, and there was no electricity or gas or water. No
milk for the children, no bread, no heating. Only the stillness of the
dark, dark nights.

But Therese had added burdens. She lived in a rundown single
dwelling in a suburb of Yerevan. She lived with her husband and
children, but also with her mother- and father-in-law, sister-in-law,
and a mentally disabled brother-in-law.

This is how she continues to live.

Relatives of mine who were visiting us in Yerevan a few weeks ago
were complaining that people in Armenia had become obsessed with
earning money. "What a business-oriented culture it has become," one
of them said while shaking her head.

What do you say to someone like that?

This is a woman who lives in a 6,000 sq ft home, in a very posh
neighborhood, goes on holidays several times a year, and thankfully
hasn’t seen much heartache in her life. She lives in Camelot.

While she was going on about her analysis of the people’s mindset
here in Armenia, I was thinking of Therese and what she would say to
this relative of mine. Would she be able to find the words to describe
her despair? Could she tell my relative that because she had an
operation that cost the family $1,000 she is having difficulty
sleeping at night even though it was an operation she needed to have
and if she didn’t it could have permanently impacted her life? Could
she tell her what it’s like to live in a house which has cracks that
let in the wind and the rain and the snow? Could she begin to describe
how it feels to have eight people sharing a single bathroom which has
running water only two times a day for limited periods? Would she be
able to describe what it feels like not to have an extra 100 dram coin
to give to her son who goes to university, so that he can have at
least a cup of coffee?

Can any of us really understand what people like Therese and her
family go through on a daily basis? My relative complains that they’ve
become obsessed with money. I complain about getting stuck in a
traffic jam. Someone else complains about rude salespeople. We all
need to put things into perspective. Those of us who have moved to
Armenia came in search of our own Camelot and to a great extent, I
think we’ve all found it.

Therese also searches for her Camelot. The day she stops looking I
hope will never come.

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

12. Letter: On locking out the chief donor


I was very disturbed and dismayed to read that Armenians are suing
each other over the Armenian Genocide museum in Washington ("Hirair
Hovnanian and others are sued over Genocide museum" Sept 29, page A1).
Isn’t the Armenian Genocide one thing we can be united about?

But when I saw the chart with the contributions, I was shocked.
[Gerard] Cafesjian and his foundation gave the lion’s share of the
money for this museum! How can [Hirair] Hovnanian and [Van] Krikorian
[of the Armenian Assembly of America] lock him out of decisions?
Hadn’t they agreed that Mr. Cafesjian would be part of all the big
decisions? I can’t blame him for demanding his day in court.

I don’t know what the judge will decide, but I don’t think anyone
will ever trust the Armenian Assembly with a major gift again. I hope
they can sort this out. All Armenians must work together for the
memory of the 1.5 million of our people who perished in the Genocide.

Very truly yours,
Shaghig Mankerian
Los Angeles, Calif.

* * *

[Chart] As of September 2006, the contributions funded by current and
former Board of Trustee members for the benefit of the AGMM were as

Gerard Cafesjian and CFF $ 14,400,000

Anoush Mathevosian $ 3,500,000

Hirair Hovnanian $ 1,500,000

John Waters $ 25,000

Robert Kaloosdian $ 100

Van Krikorian $ 0

Total Board of Trustee Contributions $19,425,100

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

13. Editorial: Thank you!

On Wednesday, October 10, the House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted
the Armenian Genocide resolution and agreed to refer it to the full
House of Representatives. The Speaker of the House has pledged to
schedule a vote soon.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Tom
Lantos, and the members of the committee who voted in favor of the
resolution resisted an enormous amount of pressure from the White
House and the military-diplomatic establishment.

Hours before the vote, President George W. Bush appeared on the
South Lawn of the White House to urge the members to vote no. He
called members of the committee personally, as did the secretaries of
state and defense and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Yet the House leadership stood firm. We are proud of Speaker Pelosi
and grateful to her for refusing to bend to this pressure.

Mr. Lantos, a survivor of the Holocaust, scheduled a vote for
Wednesday. In his opening remarks, he called the vote "a vote of
conscience." He voted in favor of the resolution. He has our respect
and our gratitude.

A bipartisan majority of the members of the committee spoke
eloquently in favor of the resolution and voted yes. The vote was 27
to 21.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D.-Calif.) hit the nail on the head when he told
the committee, "We cannot provide genocide denial as one of the perks
of friendship with the United States."

He, along with Rep. Ed Royce (R.-Calif.) led the effort to pass the
resolution in the committee. Mr. Royce argued passionately that "as a
global leader in human rights, it is imperative for the United States
to stand on principle and recognize the annihilation of the Armenians
as genocide."

A fellow Republican from California, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, took
strong objection to "the audacity that some Turks have had during this
debate to threaten to cut logistics support of U. S. troops in Iraq.

"Isn’t it enough that hundreds of our servicemembers may have died
due to Turkish refusal to permit the 4th Infantry Division to transit
through Turkey and enter Iraq at the beginning of the Iraq conflict?"
Mr. Rohrbacher asked. "Isn’t that enough?

We are also grateful to Reps. Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.) and George
Radanovich (R.-Calif.), the original cosponsors of the resolutions,
Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D.-N.J.) and Joe Knollenberg (R.-Mich.), the
cochairs of the House Armenian Caucus, and Rep. Anna Eshoo
(R.-Calif.), an Armenian-American, for the leadership they provided in
this matter.

The Armenian-American lobby in Washington worked hard to usher the
resolution through the committee in the face of fierce, extremely
well-funded and powerful opposition. The lobby has done us proud, and
we are grateful to our activists. The lobby is, of course, all of us,
and so we are saying thank you to everyone who took the time to speak
up, to organize, to articulate, and to donate.

Of course, there’s more to do. And it’s urgent.

We need to call each member who voted yes, and say Thank you. We
need to call cosponsors of the resolution and say Thank you. And we
need to call members who are not cosponsors and urge them to vote yes
when the resolution comes to the floor.

The best way to find out who is a cosponsor is to go to
and type "H.Res.106" in the search box. Select
the "Bill number" button before clicking "Search."

Speaker Pelosi could schedule the vote any day, so it is important
to act now, without delay.

Passage of the resolution by the House is in sight. We cannot waver now.

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

14. Editorial: Turkey threatens the U.S.

Opponents of the Armenian Genocide resolution portray the choice of
whether to support the resolution as a stark one: remember horrific
events of the past, or protect the lives of young Americans today?

This is a false choice, and a cynical ploy to set up members of
Congress and Armenian-Americans as scapegoats for actions Turkey
intends to take.

We must work overtime to expose it as such.

As Mr. Rohrabacher pointed out, Turkey refused to cooperate with the
United States back in 2003, when the United States was setting out to
invade Iraq.

Since then, Turkey has been trying to enter northern Iraq, but has
been limiting itself to brief incursions and shelling because of U.S.
pressure. It is now threatening to ignore the United States and invade
in force, once again putting American lives at risk.

The Bush administration has made a mistake in giving Turkey cover
for its lack of cooperation with the United States. Mr. Bush and
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should have told their Turkish
counterparts in no uncertain terms that threats and blackmail are

In its weakness, its willingness to kowtow to Turkey, the Bush
administration has emboldened Turkey to undermine U.S. interests when
it suits its purposes. Already — before the passage of the Armenian
Genocide resolution — Turkey has been taking liberties in Iraqi
Kurdistan, negotiating a railroad and a natural gas pipeline with
Iran, and continuing to block the Turkish-Armenian border against U.S.

The Armenian Genocide resolution is meant to send a different
message to the world: a message of accountability. This is a message
the Bush administration should reinforce, not undermine.

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

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