Armenian Reporter – 4/19/2008 – front section

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April 19, 2008 — From the front section

To see the printed version of the newspaper, complete with photographs
and additional content, visit and download the pdf
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1. Telethon raises $300,000 for Stem Cell Harvesting Center (by Alene
Tchekmedyian)
* Saving lives a phone call and cheek swab away

1a. Volunteers make a registry work (by Alex Dobuzinskis)
* Dozens of volunteers help run the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry

2. Armenian women weightlifters bring home 6 gold medals

3. Washington briefing by Emil Sanamyan
* Armenian politics discussed in Washington. . .
* . . . and in Strasbourg
* Secretary of State takes upbeat line on Karabakh peace
* Coming up…

4. The Armenian path to Capitol Hill (by Connie Llanos)
* Armenian-Americans continue to bring their passion for public
service to the U.S. Congress

5. "Karabakh has things to do in Washington" (Nareg Seferian
interviews NKR representative Vardan Barseghian)

6. Mark Geragos and Antonia Arslan to speak at the Times Square
Genocide commemoration on April 27
* Genocide acknowledgement is critical

7. Special pullout: Western Armenian civilization on the eve of the Genocide

8. From Armenia, in brief
* March 1 death toll rises to ten
* Prisoners suspend hunger strike
* Azerbaijani soldier crosses Line of Contact
* Armentel switches over to Beeline
* Colorful skies spread happiness (by Betty Panossian-Ter Sarkissian)
* Family appeals as probe in Levon Gulian death is dropped (by Tatul Hakobyan)
* Armenia’s new government begins to take shape (by Armen Hakobyan)

9. The Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) preserving a nation one child
and one village at a time (by Maria Titizian and Betty Panossian-Ter
Sarkissian)
* A visit to one of the cluster villages reveals real progress and
more importantly, hope for the future

9a. At the window frame plant
9b. From a tiny workshop to a flourishing furniture factory
9c. Karakert’s first outdoor café — coming soon
9d. Ela Supermarket is open for business
9e. A businessman with a love for iron

10. Ten years of foreign policy, security under Robert Kocharian (by
Tatul Hakobyan)

11. Government stability, growth and dram fluctuations
* The Armenian Reporter’s inaugural survey of experts

12. Commentary: My mother, the Genocide survivor (by Tom Vartabedian)

13. Living in Armenia: What is Armenia’s Gross National Happiness? (by
Maria Titizian_

14. Letter: Credit where it’s due (James Tufenkian)

15. Editorial: The Armenian Genocide: Moving forward

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1. Telethon raises $300,000 for Stem Cell Harvesting Center

* Saving lives a phone call and cheek swab away

by Alene Tchekmedyian

BURBANK, Calif. — A live telecast Sunday from Burbank helped raise
more than $300,000 for the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry
(ABMDR). Funds from the telethon will be used to establish a Stem Cell
Harvesting Center in Yerevan.

Hosting the telethon were the Armenian Reporter’s Paul Chaderjian
and Dr. Evelyn Baghdassarian, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital
Los Angeles. The show was directed by Mark Mardoyan and produced by
Bianca Manoukian, who has been volunteering with ABMDR for the past
five years.

Feeling that cancer can be a taboo subject among Armenians, Ms.
Manoukian sought not only to raise funds through the telethon but
include an educational element in the programming.

"The response was wonderful," she said. "I was not concerned about
the monetary amount but rather the number of participants. There were
so many calls that we had problems with phone lines. It was one of
those problems you are happy to have."

Ms. Manoukian was thrilled that most Armenian television stations
around Los Angeles picked up the signal and broadcast the telethon.

Dr. Frieda Jordan, who has led the ABMDR as its president,
recognizes the importance of community involvement for achieving the
organization’s goals.

"This is a project for all Armenian families," she explained. "You
never know when an Armenian family will need a bone marrow donor for
their child or loved one that has been diagnosed with leukemia [or
another life-threatening disease]. If they invest in this project, it
is like investing in their own future."

* Worldwide outreach

In 1999 when Dr. Jordan failed to find a bone marrow match for
four-year-old leukemia patient Alique Topalian, she knew she had to
take action. That year she co-founded the registry, a nonprofit
organization dedicated to identifying a genetically suitable bone
marrow match for every Armenian struck with a life-threatening
blood-related illness.

Dr. Jordan, who teamed up with Dr. Sevag Avagyan, the ABMDR’s
executive director in Armenia, to create the organization, said, "I
decided to volunteer my expertise to build a registry so that no
Armenian patient will be left without a donor."

Genetic compatible donors are more likely to be found among people
who share an ethnic heritage than among people who do not.

The ABMDR has effectively assembled donors to help patients across
the world. "Our level of interaction is international," Dr. Jordan
says. "All our donors are willing to donate to others and receive from
others."

The ABMDR is not restricted to giving to Armenians, but rather any
patient whose bone marrow matches that of a donor. "This project is
helping Armenians but on a bigger scale it’s a humanitarian project
helping every patient in the world, regardless of race or color," Dr.
Jordan notes.

With $200,000 in donations received by February 29 and over $300,000
raised through the telethon, the ABMDR is now poised to make its dream
of creating a stem cell harvesting center a reality. As soon as
sufficient funds are collected, the organization will be able to buy
the necessary equipment and begin renovating the project site, on the
third floor of the Oncology and Hematology Institute of the Armenian
Health Ministry, in Yerevan.

Donors who responded generously to the telethon include the
Kazarians family, which contributed $20,000 in memory of Mariana
Kazarians; the Owens and Devorris families, which gave $20,000 through
the Glendale-Ghapan Sister City Association; and the Titizian family,
which donated $15,000 in memory of Arlene Titizian. The raised funds
have brought the ABMDR one step closer to its goal of raising $750,000
for the Stem Cell Harvesting Center.

To date, the ABMDR has enlisted over 14,000 donors in the registry,
received 854 patient requests, identified 695 matches, and made
possible seven bone marrow transplants. The larger the registry grows,
the more likely it is that patients will find a match. The
establishment of the Stem Cell Harvesting Center will significantly
advance the work of the registry, in terms of both saving more lives
and conducting state-of-the-art research.

The donor registration process is easy: one can attend a donor drive
or simply contact the ABMDR office. A quick cheek swab will give the
ABMDR all the necessary information to see if one can save a life by
becoming a registered donor.

The ABMDR has held other fundraising events, including a Walk of
Life walkathon and an Annual Gala, with considerable volunteer
participation.

connect:
abmdr.am.

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

1a. Volunteers make a registry work

* Dozens of volunteers help run the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry

by Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES — Armenians worldwide who suffer from leukemia or
life-threatening blood disorders can turn to the Armenian Bone Marrow
Donor Registry for help in treatment, and the registry keeps expanding
its list of potential donors.

But for the registry to have that kind of reach, it takes the work
of more than 50 volunteers. The organization has a small, paid staff
in Yerevan, but its founding president, Dr. Frieda Jordan, is a
volunteer, and so are the board members who run the organization.

Mark Geragos is chairman of the registry’s Board of Directors, and
because of his prominence in the community, the celebrity attorney
serves as a kind of spokesperson for the registry. Other volunteer
board members include doctors Evelyn Baghdasarian, a pediatric
resident at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and Carolann Najarian, a
Massachusetts resident who heads the Armenian Health Alliance.

In the run-up to the registry’s first-ever telethon on April 13, a
committee of volunteers including Baghdasarian was busy planning the
live fundraising event.

Geragos, 50, got involved with the registry because he had a client
whose daughter needed a bone marrow transplant. The attorney said he
was fascinated by how the registry relied on DNA science to match
donors with patients, because through his work as a criminal defense
attorney he was learning just how closely Armenian genes match.

"When you do your DNA, when you find out what your type is, where
your match is, it doesn’t matter… if you’re a Republican or a
Democrat, it doesn’t matter if you were born in France, Syria, or
America, all that matters is your DNA," Geragos said. "And there is a
unique Armenian DNA."

In an interview at his downtown Los Angeles office, located in a
former fire station, Geragos said he was the original chairman of the
registry’s Board of Directors, and that he plans to serve on the board
as long as Jordan wants him to. The attorney has represented many
celebrities. He was a lead lawyer in the class-action cases against
New York Life Insurance and AXA Corp., helping families recover
payments from policies the companies issued to victims of the Armenian
Genocide.

Geragos, who keeps a busy schedule, said that he does little work
for the registry, despite his position as chairman of the board. "I
call myself a titular figurehead," he joked.

Baghdasarian, 28, has visited the registry’s lab in Yerevan, and she
has volunteered with the organization since May 2007. In addition to
helping cohost the Registry’s April 13 Telethon, Baghdasarian serves
on the organization’s Board of Advisors, which is secondary to the
Board of Directors but has more members.

In two month-long stints working on the leukemia floor at Children’s
Hospital Los Angeles, Baghdasarian has seen first-hand why the
registry’s work is so important. Two children who were patients on the
floor died in the time Baghdasarian has worked at the hospital. "You
know, there’s nothing easy about losing a child — nothing,"
Baghdasarian said.

At one point during her service on the leukemia floor, five of 25
patients in treatment were of Armenian descent. Baghdasarian said she
does not know why that was.

She added that the leukemia patients are among her favorite.

"The way that they face these life-threatening diseases is just
amazing: always having a smile on their face, always being
optimistic," she said.

Jordan said that as the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry grows,
it will fall on young doctors like Baghdasarian to continue the work
that Jordan and others started in establishing the registry.

The registry has also benefited from the volunteer work of parents
with children who suffered from leukemia. They include Michele
Seyranian, whose daughter, Alique Topalian, had leukemia in 1999,
prompting Jordan and Dr. Sevak Avagyan to create the registry to help
patients like her.

Alique’s cancer went into remission before she could get a bone
marrow transplant, and she is a healthy young woman, Jordan said.
Seyranian continues to be involved with the registry, and the
organization named her its Volunteer of the Year in 2007.

Hilda Sarkisyan serves on the Board of Advisors. Her 17-year-old
daughter, Nataline, suffered from leukemia and died last year while
awaiting a liver transplant that her insurance company initially
denied, even though Nataline had received a matching bone marrow
transplant from her brother.

Najarian, a doctor who lives in Lincoln, Mass., said she has donated
about $55,000 to the registry, and that she helped start it by making
donations early on.

"There was a criticism at the time that ‘You know Armenia needs so
many things… why put so much money into something that will help only
a few people?’" said Najarian, who is a retired physician.

Najarian created her own organization, the Armenian Health Alliance,
after the 1988 earthquake in Armenia to extend help to those affected,
and since then it has continued to distribute medical supplies in
Armenia. The Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry has a different
mission from the health alliance, because it operates in a medical
field that is technically advanced and requires coordination with the
international community, Najarian said.

"Unlike just taking medication and giving it to people, which is
also important, it develops an area of scientific work in a country
which up until that point didn’t have that," she said.

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2. Armenian women weightlifters bring home 6 gold medals

The 2008 European Weightlifting Championships are taking place in
Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy from April 11 to 21. While the competition
continues, Armenia’s women’s team has already garnered six gold
medals. Representing Armenia are Melineh Daluzyan in the 63 kg
category, Nazig Avdalian in the 69 kg category and Hripsime
Khurshudyan in the 75 kg category.

Melineh Daluzyan, born April 20, 1988, lifted 107 kg in the snatch
category and 128 kg in the clean and jerk category, securing a first
place finish and gold medals in both categories, and another gold
medal for her combined weight, which was 235 kg. Melineh was able to
lift 9 kg more than Sibel Simsekin from Turkey, who came second with
226 kg. Milka Maneva from Bulgaria was third with 223 kg. After
securing her final gold medal, to the delight of viewers in Armenia
who were watching the competition live on television, Melineh
performed a back flip before running into her coaches’ arms.

Nazig Avdalian, born October 1, 1986, lifted 106 kg in the snatch
and 136 kg in the clean and jerk category, winning both categories and
combined weight, bringing home to Armenia another three gold medals.
She beat Tatiana Matveeva of Russia who had a combined weight of 239
kg and Yuliya Artemova of Ukraine who came in third with 219 kg
combined weight.

Hrispsime Khurshudyan, born July 27, 1987 was to take part in the
women’s 75 kg category on April 17 in Italy.

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

3. Washington briefing

by Emil Sanamyan

* Armenian politics discussed in Washington . . .

Representatives of the U.S. and Armenian governments, as well as the
Armenian opposition were to testify in a specially convened
congressional hearing on April 17 titled "Armenia after the
elections." (A report from the hearing will appear in the next issue
of the Armenian Reporter.)

The Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which
includes members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives
and is also known as the Helsinki Commission, will hear testimony from
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Bryza, Armenian presidential
aide Vigen Sargsian, and College of William & Mary professor and
former Armenian Foreign Ministry official Arman Grigorian, testifying
on behalf of ex-President Levon Ter-Petrossian.

Earlier this year, the commission co-chaired by Rep. Alcee Hastings
(D.-Fla.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D.-Md.) held a hearing on Georgia’s
elections in a similar format. On March 3, following deadly clashes
between police and rioters in Yerevan, both Rep. Hastings and Sen.
Cardin issued statements calling for restraint and dialogue as a way
out of the crisis.

On April 14, the Washington office of the Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty (RFE/RL) held a discussion on Armenia and Georgia. RFE/RL
contributor Richard Giragossian argued that "the post-election crisis
or confrontation [in Armenia] is by no means over…. The underlying
dissent and frustration and dissatisfaction among the Armenian public
has little avenue for expression, especially in terms of [media]
outlets."

Georgetown University’s Cory Welt painted a somewhat more upbeat
picture of developments in neighboring Georgia, suggesting that if "in
November [2007] the question was whether Georgia is sliding towards
authoritarianism, now it’s whether it is sliding towards democracy."

* . . . and in Strasbourg

Discussions of Armenia’s post-election crisis took up much of the
April 14 plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe (PACE) convened in Strasbourg, France.

In his report, British Member of Parliament (and former deputy prime
minister) John Prescott, who led the PACE delegation to observe
Armenia’s February 19 presidential elections, reiterated its key
finding that the poll was "basically in line with Council of Europe
standards," and he sounded critical of the Armenian opposition’s
tactics.

The report elicited criticisms from Swedish and Hungarian members,
who focused on incidents of fraud during vote counting and
post-election violence, respectively. In their turn, members of French
and Turkish parliaments, who also served as observers, generally
endorsed Mr. Prescott’s conclusions.

The most vociferous criticism of the election came from members of
the Azerbaijani delegation, who demanded that the PACE be tougher on
Armenia. In a rebuttal, Mr. Prescott dismissed Azerbaijani arguments
as "absolute rubbish."

Members of the Armenian delegation Armen Rustamian (of the
coalition-member Armenian Revolutionary Federation) and Raffi
Hovannisian (of the opposition Heritage party) presented their views.

PACE was set to continue its discussion on April 17, when it was
also expected to propose a set of recommendations to Armenia with
regard to its political situation.

* Secretary of State takes upbeat line on Karabakh peace

"I am very much of the view that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is one
that could be resolved, and actually, with just a little bit of will,
could be resolved relatively quickly," Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice said on April 15, appearing to contradict her own assessment a
month ago.

In congressional testimony on March 12, Dr. Rice acknowledged, "in
the immediate future I don’t know that Nagorno-Karabakh can get
solved."

But in response to a question from the American Turkish Council
(ATC) conference audience this week, Dr. Rice said that the Karabakh
peace agreement "is just going to take taking a couple of difficult
decisions and getting an agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia on
Nagorno-Karabakh."

The question came following Dr. Rice’s address at the ATC’s 27th
annual conference, held in Washington, in which she touted the
importance of U.S.-Turkish relations, compared Kemal Atatürk to Thomas
Jefferson, and sought to avoid commenting on the dominant issue of the
day in Turkey: the secular-military establishment’s effort to ban the
ruling party through a constitutional court ruling.

Dr. Rice promised continued U.S. assistance to Turkey’s fight
against Kurdish rebel forces and encouraged the lifting of Turkish
penal code provisions that "criminalizes insulting ‘Turkishness.’"

ATC, which is funded primarily by major U.S. weapon systems
manufacturers with contracts in Turkey, is a central element of the
Turkish lobby in the United States. It is chaired by retired Gen.
Brent Scowcroft, national security advisor to former President Bush
and onetime superior of Condoleezza Rice. Turkish government delegates
at the three-day conference included state minister Kursat Tuzmen and
defense minister Vecdi Gonul. (For more information, see
)

* Coming up . . .

The Armenian International Policy Research Group (AIPRG) will hold its
annual conference on May 17-18 at the World Bank in Washington. The
conference, supported by the Armenian government and sponsored by the
World Bank, United Nations Development Program, and U.S. Agency for
International Development, will focus in Armenia’s economic
competitiveness in the global market. Connect at

– Alexa Millinger contributed to this week’s Briefing.

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4. The Armenian path to Capitol Hill

* Armenian-Americans continue to bring their passion for public
service to the U.S. Congress

by Connie Llanos

LOS ANGELES — Having grown up in Southern California, State Assembly
member Paul Krekorian remembers a time when it was difficult to find
another Armenian family in his neighborhood, let alone in public
office.

As the number of Armenian-Americans taking public office continues
to grow, Mr. Krekorian said he is excited about the increased
representation of the community.

"As I saw the community grow during different waves of immigration,
I always hoped, I knew, that the community would take its seat at the
table of American democracy," Mr. Krekorian said.

"The dramatic increase we have seen in the last ten years, of
Armenians in politics, comes from the strong grassroots efforts of the
community but it also comes from people being inspired by those of
Armenian descent who are advancing in public office. It’s inspiring to
see people who share your values, heritage, and culture advance in the
American political arena."

Here is a list of Armenian members of Congress, past and present:

Jackie Speier. On April 8, 2008, Ms. Speier, a Democrat, won the
special election for the House of Representatives seat of the late Tom
Lantos, becoming the representative for California’s 12th
Congressional District. Her district comprises parts of San Mateo
County and southwest San Francisco. A survivor of the Jonestown
massacre by followers of the People’s Temple, Ms. Speier served as a
San Mateo County supervisor (1980-86), a member of the California
State Assembly (1986-96), and a member of the California State Senate
(1998-2006). She is the co-author of This Is Not the Life I Ordered:
50 Ways to Keep Your Head Above Water When Life Keeps Dragging You
Down, published in 2007.

Steven Boghos Derounian. One of the first Armenian-Americans to land
a seat in Congress, Mr. Derounian was elected into the 83rd Congress
in January 1953. Before entering public office, Derounian, who was
brought to the Unites States when he was three years old from Sofia,
Bulgaria, was an accomplished lawyer and a decorated U.S. Army
officer. He received a Purple Heart for his service overseas in 1946.
Mr. Derounian was voted out of office in 1964, but went on to become a
justice of New York State’s Supreme Court from 1969 to 1981.

Anna Eshoo started her term in the House of Representatives after
ten years serving on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. In her
15 years in Congress, Ms. Eshoo has been responsible for several key
pieces of legislation, many of which focus on new electronic
technologies. Her efforts led to the launch of electronic signatures,
and she helped make digital documents legally binding — a step that
was crucial to the development of e-commerce. Ms. Eshoo has also spent
years working on access to healthcare for families and environmental
protection. She has served on the House Energy Committee since 1995
and the Subcommittee on Health, among others.

Charles (Chip) Pashayan, Jr. Born in Fresno, Mr. Pashayan served
five terms as a Republican member of Congress, representing his native
community from 1979 to 1991. The lawyer lost his seat in 1990, when he
was defeated by Democrat Cal Dooley.

John Sweeney. Representing the 20th Congressional District of New
York, Sweeney was in the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007.
Describing himself as a libertarian conservative, Mr. Sweeney took on
several conservative issues. He sponsored legislation that sought to
make drug testing mandatory for all federal employees and other
legislation that would ban all research that supported drug
legalization. Still, Mr. Sweeney’s voting was diverse. He supported
embryonic stem-cell research and voted to allow federal funding for
international abortion groups. Mr. Sweeney was voted out of office in
2006.

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5. "Karabakh has things to do in Washington"

In our April 5 issue, NKR representative Vardan Barseghian discussed
the challenges of leading Artsakh’s de facto diplomatic mission in the
United States. In this second and final installment of the interview,
conducted by Nareg Seferian, he talks about the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict, diplomacy, and more.

* On the peace process and threats of war

Reporter: Over the past almost ten years now, the Republic of
Nagorno-Karabakh has been outside the Karabakh peace process. Is
Karabakh’s participation in the talks necessary?

Or, do you think it’s appropriate to pull back on this in order to
have more substantial talks, so that the content of the talks is more
realistic and more in line with Armenian interests?

Barseghian: The current format of talks certainly does not reflect
the reality on the ground and the division of decision authority.

I would not say that Karabakh has been excluded from the talks, the
top leadership of Karabakh is consulted on a regular basis and is
informed about the specifics of the negotiations, and the current
level of dialogue between the authorities in Karabakh and Armenia
allows an exchange of information and certain level of co-ordination
of actions, of steps.

But, naturally, talks should be first of all between Karabakh and
Azerbaijan, with Armenia present as an interested party. When this
whole conflict began, Azerbaijan attacked Karabakh, and it was
Karabakh that defended itself and Armenia stepped in to help its
brethren in Karabakh.

Azerbaijan is trying to portray this conflict as a territorial
dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but the reality is that this
is a national liberation movement for the Armenian people of
Nagorno-Karabakh. And only the people of Karabakh can decide their own
future.

Of course, we trust Armenia, we are the same people, but, as I said,
politically, we are separate. And the people of Karabakh need to be
represented at the talks and, eventually, this is inevitable since no
major issue can be decided without the explicit endorsement of the
people of Karabakh directly or through their elected representatives.

The main reason there has been no progress in talks is because
Azerbaijan is not really interested in accepting the reality,
Azerbaijan wants to go back to the status quo of 1988, when the Soviet
Union was still around. That is not possible.

Karabakh has been able to defend itself, and has been able to
establish a line of defense, the Line of Contact that has been stable
for about fourteen years without a peacekeeping force and which needs
to become an international border, which it is already de-facto.

Once this reality is recognized, Azerbaijan will sit down to talk
with Karabakh about the future of our relations. About building
bridges so that we, as citizens of this region can live in peace and
go about our daily lives and take care of our economies and social
needs of our respective populations.

For now, as long as Azerbaijan wishes to talk to Armenia about a
peace deal that corresponds to our vision, we are fine with that. But
Azerbaijan by refusing to talk to Karabakh also tries to create an
illusion for itself and for the international community that this
conflict is not about self-determination or liberation of the people,
that it is a territorial dispute.

When somebody looks at a map and sees the current configuration of
conflict, it is easy to buy that claim since what used to be Soviet
Azerbaijan is now controlled by somebody else.

But it is crucial to realize that in 1992, when Karabakh was on the
verge of extinction, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh were obliged to
break out of the encirclement, go outside their former Soviet
administrative borders in order to defend their people, homes and way
of life.

In 1992, Azerbaijan occupied nearly half of Nagorno Karabakh
Soviet-era territory, with all of its Armenian population expelled.
But we were able to regroup, reorganize our self-defense, and push
back the Azerbaijani forces and create a buffer zone around Karabakh.

But this history of the conflict tends to be forgotten when we
discuss territories, refugees, communications… We need to continue to
educate the international community, and everybody involved, about the
cause of this conflict, as well as the consequences.

The cause was the illegal annexation of Nagorno Karabakh, a historic
Armenian land, by Azerbaijan with the help from the Bolsheviks. Stalin
just gave it to Azerbaijan. The people of Karabakh were never happy
with that decision. Last twenty years provided an opportunity to us to
deal with this illegal occupation and liberate ourselves.

So, when this reality is appreciated, recognized, then it is easy to
deal with consequences. So, when Azerbaijan advocates for a return to
1988, everyone needs to realize that it was that exact status quo that
caused this conflict and that we do not need to continue with the same
vicious cycle.

I think there is that appreciation internationally, we simply need
to work, everybody needs to work with Azerbaijan in explaining the new
reality, that there is no going back to the situation of 1988 or 1921.
The people of Karabakh have managed to realize their right to live in
freedom, they defended that right on the battlefield, and the NKR has
been successful in building a functioning country.

When this is recognized, we will be able to come to a solution
sooner rather than later.

Reporter: Is there a real threat that the conflict may re-ignite into war?

Barseghian: Yes, the war, the Azerbaijani aggression is still a very
recent history for us and we are not forgetting it. And Azerbaijan’s
top government officials continue to threaten us with a new war, and
we consider our history and we see the military build-up by Azerbaijan
and we understand that a new war cannot be ruled out.

Having said that, we also know that Azerbaijan recognizes our
ability to defend ourselves and we have been keeping our defense
capability up-to-date, in line with demands of a modern war, and that
is why the Line of Contact has been generally stable.

A certain balance of power has been established in this region,
which paved the way for the cease-fire. Once this balance of power
shifts, a new war may become more likely. Of course, we are not
interested in starting a new war, we basically got what we wanted; we
wanted to be able to live securely on the lands of our ancestors. We
were able to reach that goal.

Unfortunately, our people paid a very heavy price for that, and
because of this war that Azerbaijan initiated, that price was
inevitable as we were left without alternate options. Our heroes, who
sacrificed their lives and health, did so knowingly, to ensure the
life and freedom of their families.

Today, we cannot rule out a new war, but we are not afraid of it
either. We know that we need to be prepared for another war in order
to make it less likely. Azerbaijan knows about our determination to
defend ourselves, our lives. But the day that we give Azerbaijan a
reason to doubt our determination, will be the day when the war would
undoubtedly begin. But we are not going to give Azerbaijan that
reason.

Reporter: But Azerbaijan is increasing its military spending, they
have made their intentions clear. Does this not mean that Karabakh may
be faced with more daunting challenges?

Barseghian: We are aware of Azerbaijan’s increased military
spending, but we also keep up in defense capabilities, improving,
modernizing, and training our soldiers and officers to be ready for a
new war.

The war of 1991-1994 was very hard for the people of Karabakh, for
all Armenians who came to support us. In that war, Azerbaijan had an
upper hand in personnel and equipment. Perhaps ten times more military
hardware, at least 3-4 times more ground forces. Nevertheless, faced
with such difficult odds, Artsakh was able to prevail.

Azerbaijan knows the facts of that war, and even the biggest army
will not help them, because our soldiers will be fighting for their
families, their homes. And certainly in addition to that motivation,
we now have the type of defense capabilities that we never had before.

* The NKR Office: how to get involved

Reporter: Back to Washington issues. Do you often get people coming
in, Armenians or not, who want to help out, or who have done things
for the NKR Representation here?

Barseghian: Over the years there have been many such cases, but I of
course wish we had even more. For several years now, we have had an
internship program, so that plays a part. Using this opportunity, I
would like to thank the volunteers who have helped us all these years.

All of this support has been great, but the central issue for the
office is to be able to have a bigger staff and for sure, a bigger
budget.

I would also like to mention a lot of day-to-day support from
organizations, especially the Armenian Assembly of America, the
Armenian National Committee, the U.S.-Armenia Public Affairs Office
and others that work in Washington and throughout the U.S. That’s
where our strength comes from, and we are really lucky in this regard
to have the support of those organizations.

But our co-operation needs to reach a new level that will correspond
to current realities and challenges. It’s been sixteen years since
Karabakh’s independence. We have to recognize that the world has
changed, that our opponents are working very hard against us
internationally and that we need to be up to the new challenges to
achieve our goals.

Reporter: Finally, can you tell us a little about yourself? How did
you end up representing the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in the U.S.?

Barseghian: In 1999, while working at the International Committee of
the Red Cross in Karabakh, I got a call from then President Arkady
Ghoukasian, with whom I previously worked at the Foreign Ministry. He
said that he wanted me to accept this position, which I did and a
month later I arrived in Washington.

But there is a pre-history to that of course. Back in 1993 I just
graduated from university in Moscow and was preparing to go back to
Karabakh. I was in the metro, and as I was making a transfer from one
metro line to another, I walked by a vendor who held a book in his
hand titled "English in Three Months." I noticed the title as I was
passing, then stopped, came back and bought that book.

Prior to that my foreign language was German and I did not study
English at school or university. But I always liked English, I liked
the way it sounded, I liked the Beatles and other bands, and I always
wanted to learn it, so I bought that book.

Back in Karabakh, there was no electricity, no heat, shortage of
water and everything else, and the war… But I really wanted to learn
English. There was this drive inside me, I had just graduated and, you
know, I still had that urge to keep learning.

So, at night, I would sit down and learn English by candle-light. I
even built a candle chandelier myself! I studied diligently. My mother
— God bless her soul — would wake up at night at four or five
o’clock and see me still studying by candle-light, and would say,
‘What are you doing?! Go, get some rest!’

But I had this motivation that I could not stop. And later, working
for international relief organizations in Stepanakert and at the
Foreign Ministry I had a chance to practice the language. And
eventually, that played a major role in getting me to where I am. But
at that Moscow metro stop, I never thought I would end up in
Washington.

And in spite of all challenges, it is definitely a great privilege
and honor to be Artsakh’s envoy to the United States.

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

6. Mark Geragos and Antonia Arslan to speak at the Times Square
Genocide commemoration on April 27

NEW YORK — Organizers of the annual Armenian Genocide commemoration
at Times Square have announced that California attorney Mark J.
Geragos will be among the distinguished speakers addressing the event,
which will also include novelist Antonia Arslan.

The gathering will meet from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 27.

A high-profile criminal defense attorney, Geragos also helped lead
the federal class action lawsuits against New York Life and other
insurance companies for insurance polices issued to Armenians living
in Turkey prior to the Armenian Genocide.

Ms. Arslan, a native of Italy, is the author of Skylark Farm, a
novel chronicling a family’s experiences through the Genocide, which
was adapted into the film The Lark Farm.

Also speaking on April 27 will be Prof. Alex Hinton, of Rutgers
University, vice president of the International Association of
Genocide Scholars.

As announced earlier, filmmaker and human-rights activist Carla
Garapedian, director of the documentary Screamers, will likewise
address what is expected to be a large crowd drawn from throughout the
greater New York, New England, and Mid-Atlantic regions.

The author of the Genocide-themed novel A Knock at the Door,
Margaret Ajemian Anhert, will be present on the dais during the event.

"We Cannot Forget, We Will Not Forget" is this year’s commemoration
theme, which will be noted by public officials, as well as cultural,
religious, educational and community leaders. According to organizers,
the roster of public officials has not yet been confirmed; but in past
years, New York Sen. Charles Schumer and Congressman Anthony Weiner,
and New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone have attended, and they are
expected to attend this year as well.

The event will also celebrate the survival of the Armenian people,
their rich heritage, and their contributions to America and the world.

As in the past, elderly survivors of the Armenian Genocide and their
families will be on hand. Organizers told the Reporter that a crew
>From a forthcoming PBS documentary on the subject of genocide will be
filming and interviewing the survivors during the gathering.

* Genocide acknowledgement is critical

Dr. Mary Papazian, provost of Lehman College, and attorney Armen
McOmber will serve as masters of ceremonies. Dr. Nicole Vartanian will
acknowledge the sponsoring and participating groups. Dr. Dennis
Papazian, the Mid-Atlantic chair of the Knights of Vartan, will speak
on behalf of that organization.

"There is no question that when genocide goes unpunished, it makes
other perpetrators discount the possibility of being punished for
their transgressions," Dennis Papazian said regarding the event’s
theme. "The Turkish government to this day continues to deny the
reality of the first genocide of the 20th century, the Armenian
Genocide, which opened the door to all the genocides of the 20th and
21st centuries, including the Holocaust, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and
Darfur."

Sam Azadian, founder of the first Times Square commemoration in
1985, added that the above effect is one of the strongest arguments
for why acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide by world governments
— including the Turkish government — is so critical. "Two out of
three Armenians perished as a result of forced deportation and mass
murder by the Ottoman Turks," said Mr. Azadian, who lost four of his
own siblings in the Genocide.

The event is being sponsored by the Knights and Daughters of Vartan
fraternal organization, and co-sponsored by the Armenian General
Benevolent Union, the Armenian Assembly of America, the Armenian
National Committee of America, the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party,
and the Social Democratic Hunchagian Party.

Also participating are the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church,
the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Church, the Armenian Missionary
Association of America, the Armenian Presbyterian Church, the Armenian
Evangelical Church, the Armenian Catholic Eparchy for the U.S. and
Canada, and various Armenian youth organizations.

The Sunday, April 27 gathering will be held in Times Square (43rd
Street and Broadway) in New York City, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Free bus transportation is available to and from Times Square, and
>From all Armenian churches in New York, including St. Vartan
Cathedral, and St. Illuminator’s, Holy Martyrs, and St. Sarkis. There
will also be bus transportation from all New Jersey churches
(including St. Leon, St. Thomas, Sts. Vartanantz, and the Armenian
Presbyterian Church), from the Hovnanian School in New Milford, N.J.;
and from Baruyr’s Grocery, at 40th Street and Queens Boulevard, in New
York.

Information on bus transportation, and general information on the
April 27 gathering, can be obtained by calling Sam Melkonian at (516)
352-2587, Leo Manuelian at (201) 746-0409, or Ara Akian at (973)
759-7518.

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

7. Special pullout: Western Armenian civilization on the eve of the Genocide

The three maps on these pages are a graphic representation of Western
Armenian civilization as it existed in Asia Minor on the eve of the
Armenian Genocide, 1915-17.

The first map uses red dots to show the distribution of Armenians
before the Genocide. The red dot concept has been used before, in a
now-iconic map produced in 1920. In that map, it was not clear whether
the dots indicated the number of people killed at each locality, the
number of people from each locality who were killed, or the number of
people who lived in each locality. The dots did not fit any of those
interpretations.

This map, prepared by historian Ara Sarafian of the Gomidas
Institute, does not show what happened in 1915, but what — or rather
who — existed just before 1915.

The second and third maps show the distribution of Armenian
churches, monasteries, and schools in the same period.

More information is available from the Gomidas Institute at
or [email protected]

* * *

See or
for the maps.

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

8. From Armenia, in brief

* March 1 death toll rises to ten

Two more people have died as a result of injuries sustained during the
mass riots on March 1, following Armenia’s presidential elections.

Nineteen year-old interior troops servicemember Tigran Agbarian died
on April 11 at Mikaelyan Surgical Hospital in Yerevan from his
injuries. He had been shot in the neck and had been in intensive care
since March 2.

On the very same day, Samvel Harutiunyan, 29, from the village of
Lusarat in the Ararat region died in the intensive care unit of
Armenia Medical Center. He had sustained head injuries.

In total 265 people were injured, of whom 130 were hospitalized as a
result of the riots. Of those hospitalized 72 were law-enforcement
officials.

* Prisoners suspend hunger strike

According to ArmInfo, 24 of 27 prisoners who had announced a hunger
strike and who are accused of organizing the events of March 1 have
suspended their hunger strike. As the Armenian Reporter reported on
April 5, several prisoners had announced that they were going on a
hunger strike to protest their arrest. The prisoners stated that they
decided to suspend the strike only after Levon Ter-Petrossian called
them to stop.

The protestors insist that they are political prisoners.

According to the prosecutor general’s office, as of April 16, 75
people are in prison, 18 are arrested but free on bail, and criminal
cases against 24 others are pending in connection with the March 1
events.

* Azerbaijani soldier crosses Line of Contact

Vyusal Eibatov of the 190th brigade of the Azerbaijani Army was
arrested near the village of Yusifjanli in the Aghdam region for
crossing over to Karabakh from Azerbaijan.

The NKR State Commission on Issues of Prisoners of War and the
Missing stated that the arrested man did not have any identification
documents on his person.

The offices of the OSCE and the International Committee of the Red
Cross have been duly informed of the situation.

Authorities in Karabakh are investigating the motives and
circumstances behind this latest incident.

* Armentel switches over to Beeline

As of April 7, telecommunications operator and Armenia’s second
largest mobile phone operator, Armentel, introduced a new brand,
Beeline to the Armenian market. Armentel, which is owned by the
Russian Vimpelcom Company, brought the Beeline brand to Armenia with
the slogan, "Live on the bright side." The brand is well-known in
Russia.

* Colorful skies spread happiness

by Betty Panossian-Ter Sarkissian

Colorful Skies Yerevan 2008 decorated the skies over Yerevan with hot
air balloons for the first time ever, causing Yerevan residents some
reason to be a little cheerful.

The International Festival was organized by the Bottler Alco
company. Besides the excitement it generated as a sporting event, the
festival was a well scheduled opportunity to stop thinking about
politics.

For many, it was the first time they saw a hot-air balloon. Around
80 lucky citizens had the opportunity to view their city from an
altitude of 300 meters. At the opening ceremony of the festival,
organizers offered a bite of a huge cake to those attending. One bite
held a lucky ticket for a balloon ride.

"Even though they could not see us, we waved to them from our
windows," said 10-year-old Karen Asoghikyan.

"All this was very beautiful and unexpected. Every day, they passed
over our house and we took so many beautiful pictures. This is a great
occasion to unwind," said 15-year-old Laura Meliksetyan, who had a
piece of cake on April 9, but was not lucky enough to win her ride.

"This is a very beautiful city. From above, everything is equal and
the city is very beautiful," said aeronautic pilots Anton Mores, 38,
and Golia Goliev, 53, both from Moscow.

* Family appeals as probe in Levon Gulian death is dropped

by Tatul Hakobyan

On April 18, Yerevan’s Kentron and Nork-Marash General Court began
hearing a case brought before the court by Levon Gulian’s relatives.
One year ago, the 31-year-old Gulian died at a police station. On May
12, 2007, he had been brought in as a witness to a shooting at his
Pantok restaurant, as a result of which a patron, Stepan Vardanyan,
had been killed.

According to the police, "While being questioned, Gulian asked for a
glass of water. In the absence of police investigators, he tried to
escape through a second floor window; however he slipped and fell two
floors. He died as a result of the injuries he sustained."

Mr. Gulian’s relatives don’t believe the police version. A criminal
investigation into the circumstances of his death was suspended on
March 12. His relatives are now appealing this suspension.

Mr. Gulian’s widow Jemma told the Armenian Reporter that she will
find the justice she is looking for and will continue to fight for her
husband’s memory till the very end, all the way to the European Court.
Asked if her children, aged 5 and 4, understand what has transpired,
Ms. Gulian said, "Ashot and Tigran don’t know that their father is
dead, but they do know that their father no longer comes home to
them."

* Armenia’s new government begins to take shape

by Armen Hakobyan

YEREVAN — On April 14, President Serge Sargsian signed a decree
appointing Edward Nalbandian, who had been ambassador to France, to
replace Vartan Oskanian as foreign minister. On the same day, he
appointed Seyran Ohanian to replace Mikael Harutiunian as defense
minister. Mr. Harutiunian was appointed chief military inspector and
counselor to the president.

According to the Constitution, the president makes these
appointments, not the prime minister.

Mr. Nalbandian, 52, is a trained diplomat and holds a Ph.D. in
political science. He was a counselor at the Embassy of the Soviet
Union, and then of Russia, in Egypt, where he served from 1986 to
1992. He then became Armenia’s chargé d’affaires, then ambassador in
Egypt until 1998. From 1999 until his recent appointment as minister,
he was stationed in Paris. In addition to being ambassador to France,
he was ambassador to Israel, the Holy See, and Andorra. He is fluent
in French, English, Russian, and Arabic. He is married with one
daughter.

Mr. Nalbandian came to public attention for his role in organizing
the Year of Armenia in France (2006-7).

If the new foreign minister was mostly active in diplomatic posts
abroad, then many in Armenia are well acquainted with both the work
and character of the new defense minister, Mr. Ohanian. In presenting
Mr. Ohanian to the general staff as the new minister on April 15, the
president said he had known him for more than 20 years and did not
remember a single action that would have been unbecoming an officer.

For Armenia this is an exceptional case, but it is hard to find
anyone who will speak ill about the new minister. Descriptions such as
a military officer who stands out with his modesty and
self-possession, an Artsakh war hero, a demanding commander, and a
legendary figure are often heard.

Mr. Ohanian was born on 1962 in Shushi. After graduating from the
Supreme Military Command School of Baku in 1983, he served in the
Soviet Army in Germany. In July 1988, he was transferred to
Stepanakert. where in 1990 he became commander of the 366th
mechanized-infantry regiment. After the withdrawal of the regiment
>From Stepanakert in 1992, Mr. Ohanian continued to serve in the
Defense Army of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. Just one month
later, he participated with his detachment in the liberation of his
hometown of Shushi. He participated in all military operations on all
fronts. He was severely injured in an operations at the Chldran
village in the Martakert region in September 1992 (his leg was
amputated as a result of his injury), but in December of the same year
Mr. Ohanian returned to service and was appointed chief of staff of
the NKR Self-Defense Committee.

After the ceasefire, from 1994, he rose through the ranks and in
August 1999, was appointed defense minister of NKR and then, commander
of the Defense Army. In May 2007, he was appointed Chief of the Armed
Forces General Staff and the First Deputy Defense Minister of Armenia.
He has now been replaced in this post by Lieutenant General Yuri
Khachaturov.

Prior to being appointed minister, Gen. Ohanian was released from
military service. In September 1999, he was decorated with the Golden
Eagle Medal and conferred with the title of Hero of Artsakh. He is
married and has three sons.

Ministers of Justice Gevorg Danielian (non-party), Agriculture David
Lokian (Armenian Revolutionary Federation), and Sports and Youth
Affairs Armen Grigorian (Prosperous Armenia Party) have been
re-appointed.

The president fired the Customs chief, Armen Avetisian, who had been
in that post since 2001. He has not yet appointed a replacement. In a
meeting with tops Customs brass, he decried corruption and contempts
for customers in the Customs service.

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

9. The Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) preserving a nation one child
and one village at a time

* A visit to one of the cluster villages reveals real progress and
more importantly, hope for the future

by Maria Titizian and Betty Panossian-Ter Sarkissian

When Dr. Garo Armen, founder and chairman of the Children of Armenia
Fund (COAF) embarked upon his journey to help the children of Armenia,
no one could begin to imagine the benefits that individuals,
communities, villages and eventually the country would reap. Based
upon his vision, a new model has been created, one that just might be
the magic formula to revitalize the country and ensure real
sustainable development.

In an article which appeared in the Armenian Reporter (October 27,
2007), Sherry Lansing, who was COAF’s 2007 recipient of the Save a
Generation Humanitarian Award, said about Dr. Armen: "[I was] struck
by his intensity and dedication to helping children, to helping a
country. His enthusiasm is infectious. He’s not only raising money,
but he’s teaching people to empower themselves, and become
independent. You’ve given me a model for Armenia: people helping
themselves." At the same awards dinner, Arpie Balian, COAF Armenia
Country Director said, "The model starts with people, and they decide
how to change." It is really a theme of self reliance, of teaching
people to empower themselves.

* COAF cluster model

In 2004, COAF launched its Model Village development project in
Karakert, in the Armavir region of Armenia.

The COAF comprehensive development model includes reconstruction,
infrastructure rehabilitation, health and social programs, educational
reform, government and civic education, municipal services, and
economic initiatives.

COAF engages the community in the revitalization of their village,
in planning the priority projects most critical for their revival.
Prior to launching any project, COAF holds town hall meetings within
the given community. "It is during those community meetings that we
finalize our need assessments," says Arpie Balian. Every villager has
an opportunity to express his opinion on what project may have the
highest impact on the development of the community. Following a vote,
a project implementation project is planned and carried out.

Through a series of town hall meetings, followed by discussions with
the mayor and village council, COAF developed the tactical plan and
schedule for project implementation. COAF also held consultations with
potential partner organizations and other stakeholders to review
planned activities and intended impact, set target outcomes, enlist
cooperation, and establish partnerships to ensure optimum use of
available resources.

In the first 12 months of the Model Village project implementation,
COAF focused on the most critical health and social components of its
development model.

The positive results from the Model Village project in Karakert have
driven COAF to expand its comprehensive development program to a
cluster of five additional villages in Armavir, Dalarik, Shenik,
Lernagog, Argina, and Myasnikyan. Launched in February 2006, the Model
Cluster expanded program aims to provide the necessary infrastructure
and essential resources critical for community-based sustainable
development, including health, social, educational, and economic
structures.

The target benefactors of all COAF projects are the children.
Believing that a child should have every opportunity to develop into a
full-fledged individual, the objectives of COAF projects are to create
a developed environment for children in villages of Armenia, where
they should pursue a proper education in well maintained
kindergartens, schools, community arts and sports centers, public
libraries, modern health care facilities, public parks, clean streets,
and lastly, but most importantly, in economical self sufficient
families.

"The purpose of the cluster is not only to sustain the development
of the six villages, but also to bond the peoples of these villages
through communications on various levels. At the end, one of the major
aims of the cluster is to connect the villagers to their villages,"
says Ms. Balian.

The Model Village and Model Cluster project is the first such
program ever to be undertaken and has been recognized by international
aid agencies as an exemplary template of sustainable development.

Believing that partnership is a key to sustainability, throughout
the past four years, COAF has partnered with the World Bank, UNICEF,
USAID, UNDP, Children’s Health Care Association, the Armenian Eye Care
Project (ACEP,) the Armenian Dental Society of California, Mission
East, Jinishian Memorial Foundation.

* Karakert: one of Armenia’s many faceless villages is now a success story

Located in the region of Armavir of the Republic of Armenia, not far
>From the western border with Turkey, Karakert, as its meaning "built
of stone" suggests, has literally risen from the rocky land that
stretches as far as the eye can see.

The terrain in Karakert is unforgiving. In its dry and continental
climate, every drop of greenery is the fruit of the sweat of the sons
and daughters of this village.

In late 2004, Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) adopted Karakert to
pilot its Model Village development project, because it offered all of
the complexities and difficult challenges to test the model.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Karakert, too, shared
the same destiny of many Armenian villages. The economic collapse of
the whole country resonated even stronger in remote villages like
Karakert. A rapid increase of extreme poverty, lack of running water,
poor sanitary and hygienic conditions, high rates of unemployment and
emigration, social paralysis, poor education, piles of garbage
suffocating the unpaved streets. These are only few of the problems
Karakert considered inseparable from its fate

Now, the village has recovered its pulse and vigor. Within a few
short years, the health care and education of the rural community of
over 5000 and with an average birth rate of 4 children per family, has
immensely improved. Irrigation water is accessible to all, and
economic development is underway not only thanks to COAF projects, but
also as a result of the initiatives of the local population.

A drive through the main road of Karakert shows a heartwarming
sight. Renovation of village houses are underway. New construction
promises to be completed soon. Garbage tins keep garbage off the
streets, and the bright yellow benches of the public park invite the
weary visitor to rest.

However, the most eye-catching progress lies neither in the cheerful
red rooftop of the kindergarten, nor in the freshness of the renovated
buildings. It cannot be found in the modern supermarkets nor in a
newly renovated and equipped ambulatory. It is proudly nestled in the
shining eyes of the village folk, who no longer linger idly on street
corners. They are busy, each with their own work, planning the future
of their children and of their beloved village, Karakert.

* The ambulatory is the heart of Karakert

Karakert, has an ambulatory which is the only primary health care
center in the village. Dr. Aida Davidian, the director of Karakert’s
ambulatory proudly gives all guests to the facility the grand tour.
She recalls the days when the ambulatory was neglected by state
authorities for years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today,
the building is a well-equipped, modern and spotless facility that
caters to the needs of the villagers. The ambulatory has two full-time
doctors and two nurses who are complimented by COAF’s monitoring
doctor which visits the facility on a regular basis. According to Dr.
Davidian, the ambulatory services anywhere from 20-50 patients a day,
five days a week. "Thanks to excellent service, the continuing
education and training we have received, proper equipment and
excellent hygiene, we have a high turnover of patients," Dr. Davidian
says. "Because we are only a primary care facility, we do not house
patients but COAF has supplied us with a car and when necessary, at
any time of day or night, we make house calls."

One of the most important contributions that COAF has made to
Karakert is to ensure proper medical services to its inhabitants. For
that reason, the two doctors have undergone extensive continuing
education programs and retraining. "I received a full year of
retraining – no other village doctor has ever had that kind of
opportunity," Dr. Davidian says proudly. "The success of this
ambulatory, is the success of the whole village."

Not only did COAF ensure the village doctors’ training, they
provided a mobile team of ten doctors who for 9 months would make
weekly visits to Karakert to provide specialized medical attention.
"The entire population of Karakert was examined by these doctors,
including 1500 children," Dr. Davidian advises us.

Special classes for mothers with newborns were also organized, which
included education on breastfeeding, childhood diseases, pre- and
post-natal care. "All of my mothers are now educated," Dr. Davidian
says. Teachers of Karakert’s school and school nurses also
participated in these classes.

Dr. Aida Muradian the other doctor who works at the ambulatory was
treating a nine month-old baby whose mother wasn’t even from Karakert,
but from another village in Taline. "You just saw for yourselves what
a fine reputation we have in this region, and all of this is thanks to
the efforts of COAF," Dr. Muradian says. She too was also sent for
retraining. "Other than the extensive retraining program which we
participated in, we are assisted by COAF’s visiting doctor who helps
us with the new equipment and instruments," she says. Dr. Muradian
says that the ambulatory needs to provide first rate care and make
proper diagnoses because the village is isolated.

* A sparkling community center in the heart of the village

What strikes you first as you walk into the renovated community center
in the heart of Karakert is how spotless it is. Any village, city or
even capital would be proud to call such a facility its community
home.

This center makes it difficult to believe you are in a remote
village in Armenia. It houses a large Internet and computer center; a
modern library with 4000 books; a large concert hall that seats around
280 people and a large stage; spotlessly clean bathrooms; a balcony
overlooking the concert hall with chess tables; a nicely appointed
office for the center’s administration; a conference room for the
Women’s Association of the village, and a large hall for dance,
karate, wrestling, and kick-boxing classes, together with two
comfortable changing rooms. It is impossible not to notice how clean
every corner is. The overall appearance of the interior of the
building is so welcoming that you want to linger.

The echoes of a strong female voice could be heard as we entered the
bright entrance of the community center. A young village girl was
practicing a song dedicated to mothers, while her friends were sitting
in the hall, listening.

In the computer room, we met Violet Hambardzoumyan, a young woman
>From Karakert. She is one of the two editors of Shrjadardz (Turning),
a monthly community paper of the six villages forming the COAF
cluster. Shrjadardz has been in publication for two years. "We have
attended special courses in journalism organized by COAF. My friend,
Christine, and I love our job and do our best to make everything work
out," says Violet.

Maro Asatryan, 40, is the chief librarian and dance instructor of
the center. She says that since the renovation of the Community
Center, more people are borrowing books from the library. "Every day,
ten to fifteen people, schoolchildren and grownups, visit the library
and borrow books," says Maro. "I am very happy with our community
center. At my village I have everything I would have had if I lived in
the city."

For fifteen years, the community center had been deserted and left
to decay. The newly renovated center opened its doors on December 14,
2007. In its first year of operation the community center spent a warm
winter, during which time approximately one hundred children
participated in arts and sports programs. For a symbolic fee of
1000-2000 Drams per month ($3.5-$7) paid in several payments, children
of Karakert have more to do than just wander aimlessly in the streets.

The center keeps its doors open even on Sundays. "Even if we do not
have classes, children and teenagers come for rehearsals," says Berj
Khachatryan, the director of the Center and the karate and wrestling
trainer.

Berj goes on to explain that whatever income the center has from its
classes, it transfers to the Fund, which, in its turn, takes care of
the expenses of the center.

The center employs eight people from Karakert. Soon the center will
offer even more cultural activities, including film sessions, theater,
concerts, and sports tournaments. "Sadly, our village folk have lost
their cultural zest. First, we have to reawaken that," says the
center’s director.

We had completed our tour in the Karakert Community Center. As we
were taking our leave, we could hear young voices reciting poems in
the concert hall.

* * *

9a. At the window frame plant

The dusty road bordered on both sides by rock-strewn dry land, barren
of any greenery leads to a one-storey building with whitewashed walls,
surrounded by two rows of young poplar trees. The place, a former
Soviet plant, was destined to be demolished just after the collapse of
the Soviet Union and sold off in pieces as construction material.
Baghtasar (Boris) Mnatsakanyan and his two brothers bought the place
and turned it into a window frame plant, called Vik Vah.

Back in the Soviet years, the brothers worked at the flour mill in
Karakert. Following the collapse of the system, Boris and his brothers
started operating their own small flour mill. "My sister in the United
States had sent us a Jeep. Instead of driving it, we sold it and
invested the money into the flour mill," says Boris.

Their hard labor paid off. Their business was prospering, the flour
mill worked day and night. Then the monopoly in Armenia in importing
wheat from neighboring countries increasingly made it difficult for
small entrepreneurs like Boris Mnatsakanyan to import wheat.

Whatever the Mnatsakanyan brothers earned from their flour mill,
they invested in an apricot orchard of 10 thousand apricot trees in
Karakert. Thus far, they have not yet enjoyed the fruits of their hard
toil on their rocky land, but are hoping to have a fertile season of
apricots this year with a dream of establishing a small business of
bottling fruit juice in Karakert.

Another opportunity to increase their manufacturing of aluminum
window frames and doors came in 2004 when COAF started renovating
public buildings in their village. COAF commissioned Vik Vah to start
manufacturing plastic metal window frames. To have a factory producing
plastic metal window frames right next to massive construction
projects had more than one benefit – it was cost efficient and
created more jobs for the villagers of Karakert. Vik Vah currently
employs ten people from Karakert.

Since then, Vik Vah has received orders not only from COAF. While
currently, the plant is commissioned on COAF projects, it also has
orders from Karakert and the other five villages of the COAF Cluster
and even from Yerevan.

* * *

9b. From a tiny workshop to a flourishing furniture factory

As we walked past three Caucasian sheepdogs guarding the courtyard and
into ArtVillShin LLC, the furniture manufacturing plant in Karakert,
its young owner, Arthur Yengibaryan, informs us that they are
currently working on an order for kitchen cabinets from a fellow
villager.

A decade ago, the 28-year-old carpenter studied German language and
specialized in political science in Yerevan. However, the opportunity
to succeed in life came in the spring of 2005, when he heard about the
COAF project to renovate the Karakert School and the anticipation of a
major order for school desks and furniture. Together with his brother
and friends living Karakert, he grasped the opportunity of
establishing his furniture manufacturing plant. "We had just opened
our plant when we heard about the renovation of our school. We made
some samples of school desks, organized a reception at our plant, and
invited the COAF representatives," recalls Arthur. However, they had
to go through a competition to win their first order from COAF. Since
then, ArtVillShin LLC has received COAF orders for furniture,
including the furnishings for its head offices in Yerevan.

"In the beginning, the investment was small. We started with very
simple tools," says Arthur. As orders poured in, the plant became more
professionally equipped, increasing the quality of its products and
increasing productivity.

In the past three years, Arthur has moved his plant from a rented
space into a 15,000 square meter building on the border of the village
and increased the number of permanent employees to nine. Moreover,
today his clientele includes establishments and embassies in Yerevan
and throughout the country.

"We have a loyal clientele, and we make sure to satisfy them with
our low prices and high quality of product. At the end, we increase
our revenues," says Arthur.

* * *

9c. Karakert’s first outdoor café — coming soon

On the main road in the center of Karakert, in front of the community
center there is a space pleasantly paved with a mosaic of colorful
stones and newly planted conifers.

It is the setting of a soon-to-be outdoor café, the only one in
Karakert. Before long, large umbrellas and plastic tables will occupy
the paved areas and will invite passersby to enjoy their ice cream and
coffee in a pleasant surrounding.

"During community meetings, I often heard villagers from Karakert
and the surrounding villages complain that they do not have a nice
place to meet friends over coffee. Finally, they will have a place to
enjoy themselves," says Arpie Balian, the COAF Country Director in
Armenia.

The café is what used to be the backyard of one of the two mini
markets on the main road of Karakert. Last year, its owner, Karapet
Aivazyan, 40, approached COAF with a proposal to be COAF’s partner in
the Public Park project. He knocked down the "unsightly" wall adjacent
to the Public Park and bordering his territory "to open up the space."
On November 15, 2007, the construction work on the terrace began.
First, the rocky land had to be cleaned of the stones. Then around one
meter of good soil had to be brought to smooth out the area and embed
the trees. On December 7, the trees were planted in the memory of the
victims of the 1988 earthquake.

Right after Karapet graduated from the State Polytechnic College in
Yerevan, the Soviet Union collapsed and he had to return to his
village and take care of his family’s lands and animals. However, a
keen businessperson, Karapet gradually made his way up and invested
his small savings into the grocery business. In 2005, he rented the
area of his new market and its backyard, and in 2006, he bought it.

"I wanted to build something good in our village, but I did not have
the means. COAF provided the construction materials and I, together
with my family and friends, carried out the construction. In
cooperation with COAF, we made it happen, we brought our Karakert a
step closer to a town," says Karapet.

His market currently employs two villagers. The new café will create
seasonal jobs for two-three employees.

* * *

9d. Ela Supermarket is open for business

Dikran Krikorian and his brother are the proud owners of a new
supermarket which opened its doors a few months ago in Karakert. As
the village began to feel the positive effects of COAF sponsored
projects, the need for more supermarkets increased – this was when the
Krikorian brothers had a vision and determination. Walking into the
bright, clean supermarket, which carries everything from aluminum
foil, to candy, to canned vegetables, it’s hard to believe that you
are in a village in Armenia. The staff were pleasant, friendly and
helpful as we made our purchases. Dikran doesn’t mince words when it
comes to COAF’s initiatives and programs in the village. "COAF’s
involvement in our village has created more jobs for the villagers.
They have renovated the community center, the ambulatory, paved roads
and tried to solve the water issue which is one of the most pressing
problems in our village. It’s hard to put a price on all that COAF has
done for Karakert," says Dikran, as we stand outside his supermarket
chatting.

* * *

9e. A businessman with a love for iron

Mesrob Yengibarian is a vivacious businessman with long roots in
Karakert. His father was exiled in 1949 during Stalin’s purges and
four years later when he was finally able to return to his native
country, he came to Karakert, eventually got married and had a family.
Mesrob becomes very sentimental when he speaks of his father, who is
now almost 80 years old. "I have a small market, which really doesn’t
make a lot of money because of the newer and fancier supermarkets that
are opening in the village, but my father takes ‘care’ of it and it
doesn’t matter if I lose money, as long as he’s happy," says Mesrob.

Last year Mesrob Yengibarian opened a taxi service in the village
with two cars in his fleet. "I wanted to buy another four cars, but
due to the changes regarding the industry (taxation, more rigid
standards) I have had to put it on hold. Once I can resolve those
issues, I will buy four new Skodas," Mesrob tells us. But he is not
satisfied with a taxi service, he has other business ventures in the
gleam of his eye. He has about 10 hectares of land which he has
accumulated over the years and also has a property which, for the time
being serves to satisfy his hobby. His hobby is experimenting with
iron. "I have a love for iron. I’m doing it strictly as a hobby, which
isn’t very smart, I guess," he says, smiling. One day Mesrob hopes to
turn his hobby into a money making venture. He speaks about one day
repairing and supplying tractors and farming equipment which are a
lifeline for the villagers.

He, too, still has difficulty believing that there are people and
organizations like COAF in the world. "I never dreamed that they would
do what they actually said they would. That people would want to do
what they do," he says as his voice trails off. He shakes his head,
still in awe.

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

10. Ten years of foreign policy, security under Robert Kocharian

by Tatul Hakobyan

YEREVAN — In order to evaluate President Robert Kocharian’s foreign
policy during the ten years of his presidency, it is necessary to take
a look at the political map of the region. Armenia’s border with its
neighbors is about 1,300 km (800 mi) long, of which only 200
kilometers are open. In other words, more than 80 percent of the
border — the Armenian-Turkish and Armenian-Azerbaijani — is under a
blockade. Armenia, which is landlocked, has only two outlets to the
outside world: Iran, which is situated in the south has serious
problems with the West, and Georgia to the north, which in its turn
has been under a Russian blockade for the past two years.

It is not possible to speak of a full-fledged Armenian foreign
policy and the guarantee of the country’s security while Turkey
continues its hostile policy and keeps the Armenian-Turkish border
closed and Azerbaijan continues to blockade Armenia because of the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On the other hand, every rational Armenian
official or diplomat knows that there is a price to be paid for the
blockades to be lifted and that is to make compromises on the
Nagorno-Karabakh issue. However, not only is our country not willing
to pay the price, it does not even have the right to do so.

* Armenia and Russia

Armenian-Russian relations have a very important place in Armenia’s
foreign policy. Yerevan-Moscow cooperation can be looked at on two
planes. Armenia, which is blockaded by hostile neighbors, has no
choice other than to hold fast to Russia and even link the guarantee
of our country’s security with it. Since 1992 Armenia is part of the
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the backbone of which
is Russia. Apart from that, the last Russian military base in the
Southern Caucasus is situated in Gyumri and the Armenian-Turkish and
Armenian-Iranian borders are defended by the joint efforts of Armenian
and Russian peacekeepers.

This situation began after Armenia declared its independence and is
not Robert Kocharian’s legacy. However, during the past 10 years,
Armenia’s dependence on Russia has intensified, this time even in the
political and economic fields. In particular, about 80 percent of our
country’s energy system is under the supervision or being administered
by Russians. Today Armenia receives only Russian gas; the nuclear
power plant in Metsamor is administered by Russians; nuclear fuel is
imported from Russia and they have also bought our country’s energy
giants: Hrazadan’s thermo-electric power station’s fifth block; the
Sevan-Hrazdan cascade, and the Armenian section of the Iran-Armenia
gas pipeline.

* Armenia and Iran

Political and economical relations between Yerevan and Tehran have
seem stable development during the past 10 years. Both the previous
and present presidents of Iran, Mohammad Khatami and Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, have visited Armenia, and Mr. Kocharian has twice visited
the Iran. On March 19, 2007, the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline opened; an
agreement on constructing a joint hydroelectric power station on the
Araks River has been signed, and currently the two countries are
considering the possibility of constructing an oil refinery in Meghri,
Armenia.

Iran’s relatively neutral stance on the Karabakh issue is highly
valued in Yerevan. It is true that during voting in different
international organizations, Iran sides on the whole with Azerbaijan.
This fact is intentionally ignored in Yerevan. The Armenian
authorities did not even publicly complain when during his official
visit last year to Armenia, Mr. Ahamadinajad did not visit the
Genocide memorial, Tzitzernakabert. By failing to do so, he violated
the host country’s protocol.

* Armenia and Georgia

No matter how much Armenian-Georgian relations are called friendly and
dynamically developing, they must be looked at in the context of
developments in the region. During Mr. Kocharian’s ten years of
presidency, Armenia’s political and economic isolation increased;
along with Turkey and Azerbaijan, Georgia played a small negative role
in this reality.

If we criticize the Armenian authorities for Armenia’s political and
economic isolation, then we must also show the other side of the coin.
During the past ten years, some large regional energy-communication
projects have been implemented or are still in process: the Baku-Supsa
and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipelines; the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas
pipeline, and the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway. Official Baku and Ankara
have said that Armenia’s integration in these regional projects is
"welcomed," but they have also set some preconditions: concessions in
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In other words, the alternative is
serious concessions in the Karabakh issue.

* Armenia and Turkey

In the past ten years, Armenian-Turkish relations have reached an
impasse, as Ankara continues to link their developments to a number of
preconditions. Over the past few years, Turkey has steadily followed
its policy of isolating Armenia. Yerevan is not setting any
preconditions to establishing relations with Turkey, including the
Armenian Genocide issue, which Mr. Kocharian included in Armenia’s
foreign policy agenda ten years ago. In the past decade, the
parliaments or governments of 13 countries recognized the Armenian
Genocide.

For the establishment of Yerevan-Ankara relations, the ball is in
Turkey’s field. NATO’s and the USA’s important ally, Turkey, which is
geographically perfectly located in the Eurasian region, has moved
relations with Armenia to the back burner and only after a country, in
particular the United States, recognizes or is about to discuss the
Armenian Genocide does Ankara begin to worry and rework the Armenian
issue. It is interesting to notice that Ankara prefers getting into a
dialogue with third countries for the settlement of the Armenian
issue, as does Armenia. In order to open the Armenian-Turkish border
and establish Yerevan-Ankara diplomatic relations, the authorities of
our country rely more on third parties. However, the third parties
exert pressure on Turkey more in their own interests than necessarily
in Armenia’s. Of course, we must not believe that if we establish
direct dialogue with Turkey, progress will be made, but the fact is
that Yerevan is not the initiator and has de facto adapted to the
current state of Armenian-Turkish relations, which has been imposed by
Turkey.

* Armenia and Azerbaijan

Yerevan-Baku relations, which in reality do not exist, have mainly
proceeded within the framework of the negotiations on the settlement
of the Karabakh conflict carried out by the OSCE Minsk Group. Mr.
Kocharian met with the presidents of Azerbiajan, Aliyev father and
son, more than 30 times; that’s much more than he has met with
Vladimir Putin.

* Armenia and the U.S.

During the ten years of his presidency, Mr. Kocharian has been to
Washington for a NATO summit in 1999, a bilateral visit in 2000, and
after the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in Key West in 2001. In May
2005, when George Bush came to the Southern Caucasus, he only visited
Georgia. For the past two years the United States does not even have
an ambassador in Yerevan, because of the Armenian Genocide issue.
Regardless of all this, Armenian-American relations have seriously
progressed during the past ten years and had the March 2008 events not
happened, the relations could have been evaluated as completely
satisfactory.

On March 27, 2006, the Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a
$235.65 million five-year contract with the Armenian government. The
United States also continues to provide foreign aid to Armenia aimed
at economic and democratic improvements.

Even though Armenia’s role in international peacekeeping efforts is
modest, it is very important for Armenian-American relations. For
several years now, our county’s 34-member battalion is carrying out a
peacekeeping mission as part of the Greek battalion in Kosovo; this
section of the territory is under U.S. supervision. The United States
highly values Armenia’s participation in stabilizing the situation in
Iraq. For the past three years, Armenia has been sending a rotating
46-member battalion comprised of drivers, sappers, and doctors to
Iraq. It is foreseeable that Armenia might become involved in the
peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, which like Kosovo is under NATO’s
supervision.

* Armenia and Europe

A European and Euro-Atlantic orientation has been one of Armenia’s
foreign policy priorities for the past ten years. Apart from having
high-level relations with the European Union and NATO member states
(France, Greece, Italy, and Belgium), Armenia is also a part of the
European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan. The full implementation of
this program, which was signed on November 14, 2006, for five years
will create all the necessary conditions for raising relations with
the EU to a new, higher level.

Armenia is cooperating with NATO as part of the Individual
Partnership Action Plan signed on December 16, 2005. The
implementation of this project will bring Armenia closer to NATO’s
standards.

During Mr. Kocharian’s presidency, Armenia also became a member of
the Council of Europe and the World Trade Organization. During the
past decade Yerevan has raised the level of cooperation with important
and developing countries such as Japan, China, and India to another
level. Mr. Kocharian has visited Tokyo, Beijing, and Delhi.

Taking into consideration Armenia’s place and location on the
political map, during the past ten years of Mr. Kocharian’s
governance, a very active foreign policy has been carried out;
numerous presidents have visited Yerevan including the presidents of
influential countries, such as Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin,
Mohammed Khatami, and Karolos Papoulias, as well as high-ranking
secular and spiritual officials such as Pope John Paul II, Javier
Solana, and others. However, it appears that Armenia has not yet found
its permanent place in the international family.

Armenia is part of Europe geographically and with its system of
values. This means that Armenia can become a member of the EU and
NATO, if it complies with the standards of those organizations. A
country aiming to become a member of the EU and NATO must remain true
to the democratic value system, militarily comply with NATO’s
standards, and economically comply with the EU. Obviously, Armenia
cannot hope to become a member country for the next 15-20 years.
However, in our case, we have another factor which is more important
and primary; does Armenia wish to become a member of NATO and the EU?
Armenia has never announced that the objective of further
intensification of relations with NATO and the EU is to become a
member of those organizations.

Yerevan is running a "complementary" foreign policy, which supposes
equivalent relations with strategic ally Russia, the EU, and the
United States. This kind of policy is most effective when Russia and
Europe, Moscow and Washington have calm relations. When these
relations become tense, the policy of complementarity comes under
strain.

Armenia is part of the CSTO. None of its neighbors is a member. If
Georgia enters NATO, the Armenian-Georgian border will turn into a
CSTO-NATO contact line. And so, Georgia’s membership in NATO should
not be viewed only in the context of Tbilisi-Brussels relations. Once
Georgia becomes a NATO member, Armenia will be placed in a very
difficult position. In other words, being bordered on one side by NATO
member Turkey, with its hostile policy toward our country, future NATO
member Georgia on the other side, and by Azerbaijan with its military
threats on the third side, Armenia’s choices may become more limited.

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

11. Government stability, growth and dram fluctuations

* The Armenian Reporter’s inaugural survey of experts

Editors’ note: Last week we asked more than 100 regional experts to
weigh in with their expectations about the longevity of Armenia’s new
government and Armenia’s economic and currency trends. A good number
of them — 27 — responded before our deadline.

As we learned, the respondents expect relative government stability
over the next year and subsequent several years, even though the
post-election crisis and global economic turndown has dampened their
enthusiasm for Armenia’s economic performance somewhat. The majority
also believe that the steady appreciation of Armenia’s currency has
reached a peak, but few expect depreciation.

Certainly, the results of this survey are not scientific and it is
always hard to predict the future. But we believe that the diverse
views expressed below are informative and should help stimulate
further debates about Armenia — in which we invite all of our readers
to participate.

We thank this survey’s participants and hope to be able to do this
with some regularity.

* Government stability

Tigran Sarkisian is Armenia’s newly appointed prime minister. How long
do you expect his tenure to be?

* 44% say until the next parliamentary elections (scheduled for May
2012) or longer

"While I expect the transition to the new government to be
difficult, I think we will have stability in the end."

"The country needs stability and he is credible; his nonpartisanship
is just what is needed at this juncture, and he could indeed last the
full four years."

"His solid background in banking and finance, coupled with the
enormous trust and respect that the IMF, the World Bank, and the EBRD
have for Mr. Sarkisian, bodes well for Armenia’s economic development
in the long term. He will most likely surround himself with
Western-educated and intelligent technocrats, which will buttress
Armenia’s international standing and image."

"Tigran Sarkisian showed excellent results in governing the Armenian
banking sphere. It is highly likely that his expertise will be
appreciated over the current tenure of the president and the
parliament."

"He’s done OK at the Central Bank. He has networked and should stay
out of the president’s hair and play second fiddle. So I see him
minding the store and surviving."

"The choice of Tigran Sarkisian implies that the president’s
priority is the economy, including trying to deliver on his
pre-election promises of a better life for more people. I don’t see
any candidate emerging who would be better qualified than Sarkisian to
meet that requirement, even though he may have an uphill struggle if
the global economic downturn intensifies."

* 44% say more than a year but less than four years

"The new president and prime minister have inherited a heavy
political legacy and a society on the brink of a split. It is thus
hard to believe that they could focus solely on economic issues.
Populist steps dictated not by economic effectiveness but public
demand will probably be necessary. The biggest challenge will be to
strike the right balance, and the new government has no time to
waste."

"[Tigran Sarkisian] will smooth the path for [President] Sargsian
with international financial organizations. As PM, he will be allowed
to make nonessential decisions. But he has no large power base and if
he tries to create one in the future, he will be ousted. If he
doesn’t, he will be kept as a convenience until Sargsian’s inner
circle feels the need to reward someone else with the post. There is
an outside chance that like Vartan Oskanian, he will become so
competent and so pliant that he will be kept on longer."

"He is a prime minister of the moment, not a long-term player. He is
a technocrat whose appointment is aimed to satisfy everyone. But it
doesn’t look like he is ready for the type of reforms necessary. He
may become a long-term PM, but two to three years is more likely."

"He will most likely fall prey to party politics."

"[Tigran Sarkisian] has presidential inclinations. I do assume that
he will do everything not to fail in terms of his personal career and
he will stay there if the president keeps him. However, closer to
presidential elections, he may want to get out."

"With all the caveats, I think that the most likely scenario is the
status quo for Armenia: political stability, reasonable growth rate
and stable government. But this scenario has not more than a 60
percent chance."

* 11% say about a year or less

"Armenia is facing deep social, economic and political crises and
the present prime minister and the coalition do not have the
understanding and capacity to overcome these crises, especially since
they have been in power for the last ten years and somehow engendered
the present situation. The lack of legitimacy and trust from society
is the main cause and the backing of outside forces would not improve
the situation. The situation needs internal solutions."

* Economic growth

The government expects the double-digit growth that began in 2001 to
continue this year. What do you think?

* 48% agree somewhat

"I expect that the instability and uncertainty that were generated
because of March 1 will eventually disappear. I expect Tigran
Sargsian’s government would bring back Armenia’s economy back on
track. I expect that this government will be able to use the
discontent of the population that was exploited before and during
March 1, to reduce monopolistic power of oligarch importers and to
collect adequate amount of taxes from them, generating a healthier
government fiscal conditions."

"Inflation will increasingly be a factor. More important than growth
is the public satisfaction with economic performance. Right now it
looks like the public is dissatisfied, and this dissatisfaction is
likely to grow."

"As long as the new Sargsian administration diversifies the type and
expands the flow of direct foreign investment to Armenia, especially
in the realms of IT and telecommunications, Armenia’s growth should
remain close to the 10 percent. What’s critical, however, is that this
growth be felt in the everyday lives of Armenians living in both urban
and rural areas of the country, and not just a handful of wealthy
families."

"Hard to imagine that Armenia will be immune to the worldwide
slowdown, but possible; economists are talking about ‘decoupling’ and
Armenia’s strong economic ties with Russia may insulate."

"Armenia’s economy will be affected by the world economic downturn.
Also, the housing and construction boom will most likely slow down
somewhat. However, Armenia’s economy is not integrated with the rest
of the world to such a degree where the impact of a global decline
will be proportionally reflected in the Armenian economy. Also, ‘home
loan’ programs which were recently initiated in Armenia will bear
fruit in the next 5-10 years increasing demand for housing and thus
keeping the construction boom going. All this may be affected by
political instability and the resumption of fighting on the front with
Azerbaijan."

"If we can avert a war, there is no reason why things should get worse."

"Like all other statistics in Armenia, from demography to votes, the
statistics will say what the government wants. The cost of oil will
rise for Armenia and this will make growth a bit harder to maintain.
The misshapen, de-formed nature of the economy — remittances,
construction, and agriculture as the first three sources of income —
makes any regular economic model useless as a predictive indicator."

* 19% agree strongly

"The Armenian economy has a strong potential for growth and if it
were not for the post-election crisis, 15 percent or even higher
growth would have been a real possibility. The most basic management
by the government, dealing with the most controversial factors that
are non-economic in nature would help sustain growth. Such steps would
be both good for the economy and would also be publicly supported. But
they must be taken very soon, within a month or two."

"Armenia still has a capacity to benefit from the traditional growth
sectors (real estate, agriculture, etc.) The slowing momentum in those
sectors, however, will be leveraged out by the second-generation
reforms, which would make knowledge-based sectors of economy a growth
factor."

* 19% disagree somewhat

"Current numbers published by the government are inflated in the
first place. The main drivers of growth are construction (has limited
growth potential), services and remittances (the unfavorable economic
situation worldwide might affect the latter). A lot depends on the
strength of Russia’s growth."

* 15% disagree strongly

"I do not believe in these numbers. Also, it looks like in some
countries the stronger the growth, the more job insecurity and
unchecked business development is around, which is detrimental for
Armenia. What does this growth really mean, and what is Armenia’s real
economic condition? Armenia’s economy is not sustainable at all, and
combined with politics it becomes even less so, so what are we talking
about?"

"10 percent growth rates are quite unusual and very seldom
sustained. I expect slowing to about 6-7 percent; political
uncertainty should reduce foreign investment."

* Exchange rates

The Armenian dram has been appreciating against major foreign
currencies. Do you expect this trend to continue this year?

* 41% say No, the dram should remain relatively stable

"This year, at least, the dram will stay between 300 and 320 to $1
U.S. as it is set in the budget."

"The dram’s current rate will remain stable or at least the
appreciation should slow down."

"The [current fiscal] policy will continue because the people in
power will continue to profit — keep in mind that the remittances
that come to Armenia are denominated in foreign currencies and paid in
drams, so remittances buy the natives less while the Central Bank
acquires foreign currencies ever more cheaply by paying for it in a
currency it controls."

"I believe the Armenian Central Bank, under then-Central Bank Chief
Tigran Sarkisian, had a hand in the dram’s appreciation in relation to
major foreign currencies. As long as the new Sargsian administration
prioritizes the needs and benefits of large-scale importers, as
opposed to local manufacturers, the value of the dram will remain high
in relation to other foreign currencies."

"I do not see the continuation of appreciation trend to be a
sustainable option. Tigran Sarkisian should know this better than
anyone else. While real appreciation may continue, it would be much
slower and directly linked to the growth rate in national
productivity."

"Even if the economic growth results in a natural appreciation the
government will have to step in and stabilize it. Otherwise, Armenia
risks losing its already very small export market.

"While the dram will stable relative to the U.S. dollar, it will
probably depreciate vis-à-vis the Euro."

* 37% say Yes, the dram will continue to appreciate

"The trends will be dominated by the world financial crisis, most
importantly the fall of the dollar. Armenia has only two options in
this regard: dram appreciation or inflation."

"The appreciation of dram will continue as a result of (1) a global
trend of dollar-depreciation and (2) local specifics dictated by huge
dollar-based injections in the form of private remittances from
Armenian labor-force working abroad."

"I expect the dollar will continue to fall in a long-term
depreciation pattern similar to the long-term rise in oil prices."

"It’s more likely to appreciate in the short term, but I don’t see
that trend as continuing indefinitely."

"My expectation is that the dram will appreciate at a slower pace
than during the past few years. The financial and economic crisis in
the United States could affect remittances and slow down the
appreciation of dram."

"Until a likely economic collapse, I do not expect any drastic
changes in the obligations that the administration has vis-à-vis the
businesses that help it survive. In the pre-election period, a huge
amount of promises has been delivered, which have to be satisfied, at
least partly. I wouldn’t expect from Tigran Sarkisian to change the
policies he is so accustomed to, like the tenet ‘inflation should be
kept low.’"

* 22% say No, the Dram will depreciate

"Dram appreciation was reflecting inflow of remittances — if the
remittance slow, it will depreciate."

"Not because of anything to do with the local economy, but because
the dollar will continue to fall relative to the euro."

The survey responses come from 27 experts: Armineh Arakelian
(Yerevan), Hrachya Arzoumanian (Stepanakert), Konstantin Atanesyan
(Washington), Karen Ayvazian (Moscow), King Banaian (St. Cloud,
Minn.), Asbed Bedrossian (Los Angeles), Eduard Danielyan (Washington),
John Evans (Washington), Lev Freinkman (Washington), Liz Fuller
(Prague), Richard Giragossian (Yerevan), David Joulfayan (Boston), Ara
Khanjian (Los Angeles), Joshua Kucera (Washington), Artur Martirosyan
(Boston), Samvel Martirosyan (Yerevan), Alexandros Petersen
(Brussels), Tevan Poghosyan (Yerevan), Tom Samuelian (Yerevan), Zareh
Sinanyan (Los Angeles), Ara Tatevosyan (Yerevan), Gevorg
Ter-Gabrielian (Yerevan), Khachig Tololyan (Providence, R.I.), Mihran
Toumajian (Los Angeles), Ross Vartian (Washington), Cory Welt
(Washington), and Aghasi Yenokian (Yerevan).

Editor’s note: The percentages do not always add up to 100 because of rounding.

* * *

See or
for tables.

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

12. Commentary: My mother, the Genocide survivor

by Tom Vartabedian

There are two remaining survivors of the Armenian Genocide in my
city. One is Hymayag Vosgarichian: a 94-year-old retired shoe worker
who introduced me to the Armenian community when I first moved here
>From Somerville, Mass., in 1966.

He gave me credibility and a better understanding of my heritage.

The other is my mother: a 96-year-old resident of a nearby nursing
home, who continues to wear her lineage proudly.

She gave me life.

This marks the 93rd anniversary of the Ottoman Turkish rampage upon
our tiny nation. By the time this genocide ended (1915-1923), 1.5
million victims had been put to death, and another million dispersed.

An entire homeland was reduced to a shambles while the free world
stood around and did nothing. To this day, the Turkish government
denies such a genocide ever occurred, and our own country of America
shamefully refuses to acknowledge it.

Such denial remains a travesty for the survivor.

Mr. Vosgarichian still lives independently under the care of his
wife Sara, despite the loss of his eyesight. What money he earned in
the factories has provided him with a meager lifestyle.

He introduced me to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation in
Haverhill. I was so young, I could have been considered the mascot.
They were men old enough to be my father and grandfather. I thank him
for being my "godfather."

My mother, Jennie, came from the village of Diabekir. She was three
when the invading hordes destroyed her home. She and her younger
sister watched in horror as their father was put to death, and they
themselves were corralled into a death march with their mother through
the merciless Syrian desert.

"Our family was among those devastated by a Turkish bullet," she’d
say, wiping away a tear. "In the round-up of our town, hundreds of men
were gathered together and executed on the spot."

She would pause to collect her thoughts, catch a breath, and then continue.

"Their only crime was that they had been born. Mass graves were dug
for the victims. We lost our homes, but not our dignity. Of course we
can forget. Out of this tragedy comes hope. We must prevent further
genocides by using ourselves as an example."

The sisters survived the bloody trek and wound up inside an
orphanage. Like many immigrants, they found their way to Ellis Island,
and from there to Massachusetts, where they opened a candy store in
Somerville before marrying off and raising families of their own.

* Life in a sweet shop

If you pry into her past to find clues to her vibrancy in old age, Mom
will preface her memories with this:

"I always worked hard. And God has been my savior. Whatever your
life, make sure you have room for God and the church."

She sits in her wheelchair with a clear mind, waiting for an
opportunity to reminisce and tell the others about her proud ancestry.
Some call her the "pilaf woman," because of her continued love for
rice pilaf. The standing joke around the nursing home is the stuffed
peppers she’s occasionally served at dinner. To her, it’s "dolma."

"They brought over an Armenian cook just for you," I’d say, kiddingly.

"They ought to send him back," she would retaliate. "Not the way I
would make it."

As a girl, she picked blueberries in Newton (Mass.) and helped her
parents with the family business — Jenny’s Sweet Shop — which for a
time occupied a movie theater in Porter Square.

"I fixed up the most beautiful windows," she recalled.

Once, she advertised gumdrops by building a house of candy and
placing it under a blue painted sky.

Jenny’s Sweet Shop later moved to Davis Square, Somerville, and
re-opened as an ice cream parlor. It was there she met her future
husband Edward, whose family was also in the business of serving up
snacks and sweet treats.

One day Edward Vartabedian visited the store to find out how the
family made and priced their popcorn. Six months later, he returned to
Jennie’s Sweet Shop to invite the young woman for a ride in his new
Oldsmobile — proving, in fact, that he was "sweet" on Jennie.

The ride became part of family history when the car was struck by a
drunken driver on Storrow Drive.

Fortunately, the red stain on Jennie’s white dress turned out to be
>From a bagful of spilled cherries she had on her lap. The courtship
continued for a few more dates. The Olds got fixed with $300 in
insurance money. And soon after that, the couple wed.

In 1946, they opened the Broadway Coffee Shop in Somerville. Had it
not been for mom’s acute business sense, the place would never have
lasted 30 years. She remained the chief cook and bottle washer. And
like the old school immigrants, they worked seven full days a week
with little or no help, except from the two sons.

I dreaded the place but had no choice.

"You want college?" she mandated. "Then you work for it. Nothing is
free in this world."

My parents worked side-by-side, and the only reprieve was an
occasional movie next door in the theater. Mom would send us there to
get us out of her hair on a Saturday afternoon.

Church was a vital tradition with the family. Mom was Armenian
Catholic and Dad was Episcopalian.

For awhile, I was alternating churches but eventually gravitated to
the Catholic side and the Church of Holy Cross in Harvard Square
where, upon mother’s insistence, I became an altar boy and eventually
studied a year at the Mekhitarist Monastery in Vienna. Given our
religious affiliations, we were a family of religious minorities
inside the minority race, and mom was the disciplinarian. I had my
independence as an older teen, provided I chummed around with
Armenians.

"It’s one a.m. and you’re just coming home?" I remember one conversation.

"I was with Armenians and there was a dance," I said.

"In that case, you’re excused," she shot back. "Did you meet a nice girl?"

She insisted we marry Armenian and keep the sacred heritage aglow.
My brother didn’t. I did. The flame has never been extinguished, even
to this day.

When cancer took my father’s life at the age of 66, the business was
sold, sending my mother off to work for the city of Somerville as an
assistant in the medical clinic.

She was there well past the octogenarian stage before retiring. For
the next 10 years, she drove herself to the gym daily and served as a
role model. Through shrewd investments and a strong spiritual bond,
life was good.

Club members looked admiringly at the petite woman who showed up in
her blue sweatpants and sweatshirt. They agreed the 90-year-old could
pass for 60.

Her formula was not a simple one, but she lived by it. "You’ll
always stay young if you live honestly, eat slowly, sleep
sufficiently, work industriously, worship faithfully — and lie a
little about your age."

* "You bring history to these events"

My aunt died this year in Haverhill at age 94, reducing the number of
survivors from three to two. My mother remains the embodiment of
spirit, to this day scarred by the horrific past of her childhood. The
same could be said for Mr. Vosgarichian.

This week is marked by a series of commemorations throughout the
world. In Haverhill, a proclamation was issued by Mayor James
Fiorentini and the Armenian tri-color flown from City Hall.

The annual gathering of survivors in Merrimack Valley continues to
wane, given the age. Up until a year ago, my mother stood front and
center with the red carnation in her hand, signaling the blood that
was shed.

She would sing the "Hayr Mer" and kiss the Armenian cross hung
around her neck. "Der Astvadz," she would say in her native tongue.

Her frail condition makes it difficult for prolonged observances
now. The spirit is willing, not the body.

"I’m getting tired," she said. "Every year I go to these programs
and every year I hear the same messages. My heart fills with grief."

I took her hand and said, "It’s for the children. Your presence will
motivate them. You bring history with you to these events."

"In that case, make sure you get me there."

My mother and Vosgarichian were among the fortunate few who escaped
the gendarmes, living proof that a heritage 2,500 years old cannot be
diminished by a single blow.

Their resiliency continues to remain a vital trait. By strengthening
human virtue and demonstrating the spirit of cooperation, we can make
the world a better place where people can live together in peace and
harmony.

No survivor would ever deny that. Least of all, my mother.

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

13. Living in Armenia: What is Armenia’s Gross National Happiness?

by Maria Titizian

In a remote corner of south Asia, at the eastern edge of the Himalaya
Mountains, there is a tiny, landlocked country whose inhabitants are
searching for happiness. They call their country Druk Yul (land of the
thunder dragon), their capital city, Thimphu, and their king, Jigme
Singye Wangchuk. Their country is bordered by India to the south,
east, and west, and Tibet to the north. The Kingdom of Bhutan is one
of the most isolated nations in the world. To preserve and safeguard
the nation’s identity, traditional culture, and natural environment
(the landscape includes subtropical plains in the south to 7,000-meter
peaks in the Himalayas), foreign influences and tourism are heavily
regulated by the government. As a result it is one of the
least-traveled-to countries in the world.

A Bhutanese travel agency tries to encourage tourists to visit the
country by writing the following description of Bhutan: "Travel to
Bhutan and unravel the wonders of Bhutan for yourself, of this last
Shangri-La — a land of snow-capped mountains, emerald green
landscapes, fascinating wildlife and gentle people."

The Kingdom of Bhutan is not only unique because of its isolation
but because its king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in 1972 coined the term
Gross National Happiness (GNH). It is an attempt to define people’s
quality of life, but unlike the gross national product, GNH uses
holistic indicators. It assumes that true human happiness can occur
only when material and spiritual development occur concurrently. When
they do, the material and the spiritual complement and reinforce each
other, leading to a measure of happiness.

Is it possible to measure Gross National Happiness in a country like
Armenia? Since no scientific data on Armenia’s GNH exists, I have
taken it upon myself to conduct, as the locals like to say, a
"primitive" shot at it. Some would argue that measuring society’s
well-being, which is somewhat subjective, is more important and
relevant to development than measuring production, which is objective.
There are several areas that can be measured to calculate GNH — most
of those areas include wellness economically, physically, mentally,
environmentally, including political wellness which would measure the
quality of local democracy, individual freedoms, security, foreign
conflicts, etc.

However, the four cornerstones of GNH are the promotion of equitable
and sustainable socioeconomic development, preservation and promotion
of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and
establishment of good governance.

Sustainable socioeconomic development: Through the gargantuan
efforts of organizations like the Children of Armenia Fund and the
Armenia Fund, a new vision for sustainable socioeconomic development
is being implemented. The eradication of poverty in the country is no
longer solely about building roads, renovating buildings, or the
delivery of drinking water. It is about creating a long-term,
sustainable development model that gives the villager the ability to
work and create a decent and dignified life. This, without doubt, is a
visionary approach, which if successful could serve as a model for
other developing nations struggling with the crippling effects of
poverty.

As I am not an economist and any economist reading this article
could confirm that fact, let me just state for the record that
whatever I say must be taken with a large grain of salt. If, by
chance, I am on the right track, then I hope my economist friends are
smiling that all their postulations, assumptions, and calculations in
my presence have finally gotten through.

What continues to serve as an impediment to economic development in
the country is the growing monopolies that control the import of
certain basic commodities from sugar to wheat to fuel. In order to
create a fair market economy, the state must finally demonstrate
political will to eradicate those monopolies that act as obstacles to
the development of small and medium enterprises, which will serve as
the backbone of economic development.

Preservation and promotion of cultural values: With heavy Western
influences, Armenian culture and values are slowly being eroded. A
people who pride themselves and often talk about their rich,
3,000-year-old cultural heritage are now willing and ready to accept,
with arms wide open, values that run in the face of all that sustained
us through the ravages of our history.

Armenia does not have a strategic, national cultural agenda.
Artists, musicians, composers, painters, directors, and actors are
those who through their art express beauty and educate. There is so
much stifled talent in this country. One just needs to go to a
performance by the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia or the State
Dance Ensemble to be persuaded that talent is not lacking in this
country. Our artists could become global players but they do not enjoy
the support of those in power. When artists are prostituted by
political leaders, how can we even begin to talk about the
preservation and promotion of cultural values? Are artists not
supposed to be free to express and convey their message through their
art? These are questions that beg answers.

Conservation of the natural environment: A complete disregard for
the environment led to serious ecological problems in Armenia. The
receding waters of one of Armenia’s greatest environmental treasures,
Lake Sevan, should have served as a warning that continuing
indifference would lead to an ecological disaster that our future
generations would have to rectify. According to the United Nations, 82
percent of Armenia is in danger of desertification; 26 percent is
under severe threat. Further, in 1986, 32 percent of Yerevan had green
areas. By 2005 this had decreased to 7.6 percent (this according to
the Ministry of Environmental Protection). Thanks to the diligent
efforts of committed environmentalists, who still have a long, upward
journey ahead of them, small inroads are being made to reverse years
of damage.

Establishment of good governance: Lack of good governance, some
would argue, is what led to the crippling political impasse following
the presidential elections in the country. Transparency, rule of law,
freedom of speech, and democratic values have all been compromised in
our reality. A nation that dreamed of an independent homeland has
forgotten the price it paid to achieve it. Lack of confidence in the
political system, lack of faith in political leaders, complete
distrust of the judicial system, and abuses of power must be tackled
head on and the country must begin to heal. From the customs
department to the tax department to the lowest chinovnik (bureaucrat),
officials must be accountable to the people. While we continue to
manipulate and distort the very foundation of democracy, the king of
Bhutan, through royal decree, convinced his people to hold democratic
elections. In December 2007 the Bhtanese participated in their first
national parliamentary election; now that’s progress.

This tiny, landlocked country, high in the moutains of the South
Caucasus, facing isolation, quagmired in corruption that threatens its
institutions, must ensure a dignified level of Gross National
Happiness for its people. If the current status quo is an indicator of
the wellness or lack thereof in Armenia, then there is a lot of work
to be done. All I know is that I could use a dose of happiness.

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

14. Letter: Credit where it’s due

Sir:

I really appreciated your front-page coverage of the conference on
developing Kashatagh.

It was a rare and productive event. The many participants came
feeling full of the strategic importance and urgency of developing the
region. They came committed to getting down to work, and jumped
immediately into adopting projects. There was a minimum of talk. There
was a maximum of action. There was uncommon cooperation. How often do
you find all that within a large gathering of Armenians?

Credit for the result is due to all the participants. It is due to
President Bako Sahakian, who from the first days after his election,
announced the primacy of Kashatagh development and began work on this
conference. It is due to Antranig Kasbarian, who led the Tufenkian
Foundation into its work in Kashatagh and NKR years ago as his
response to the sacrifices he witnessed by fellow Armenians during one
year he spent reporting on the war.

Having said that, you might understand why it seems so out of place
to me that you chose to picture me on your cover as if I was somehow
the heroic visionary of the initiative. If I was, then it is only as a
shareholder along with President Sahakian, Antranig Kasbarian, and all
the participants of the event who together made it the rich and
historic event that it was. Too bad you couldn’t have shown all of us
standing side by side as we were.

Very truly yours,
James Tufenkian
New York, New York

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

15. Editorial: The Armenian Genocide: Moving forward

Armenians around the world are bound together by many ties: kinship,
pride in and love for our shared heritage, concern for each other’s
well-being and for the homeland, and more. We work together on diverse
issues, ranging from building and maintaining schools and churches to
investing in Armenia and Karabakh, from caring for Armenian refugees
>From Iraq to defending Karabakh from Armenia’s neighbor to the east.

The Armenian Genocide — which we remember this month on the 93rd
anniversary of its inception — is but one part of who we are; a very
important part. We often hear calls to "move beyond" the Genocide
issue. We understand the sentiment; yes, there is so much more to
being Armenian than caring about the Armenian Genocide. But we think
the call to "move beyond" misses the point. We are a capable nation,
and we can handle more than one issue at a time. We must move forward
with the matter of the Genocide.

Maintaining the memory of the Armenian Genocide is part of the
Armenian people’s unfinished business. The scale of what was destroyed
by the Turkish government boggles the mind: well over a million human
lives, young and old; families; potential, hopes, and dreams. The maps
on pages 12 and 13 show over 3,000 Armenian churches and monasteries
and some 2,000 Armenian schools that existed in 1913. What happened in
1915-17 was the destruction of an entire civilization in its ancestral
home. What also happened — and is still happening — is the erasure
of that heritage and its replacement with a fictional narrative of
Turkish history.

We, and with us the civilized world, cannot allow our heritage to be
erased and replaced with a fiction concocted by the illegitimate heirs
to our patrimony.

Looking back at the last year, we see some progress and we see some
challenges.

* The House resolution affirming the United States record on the
Armenian Genocide was adopted in the Foreign Affairs Committee against
the overwhelming opposition of the Bush Administration on behalf of
Turkey.

* After Turkey and President Bush suffered that defeat, they pulled
out all the stops. Spending millions and calling in favors from
friends and allies in politics and the media, they targeted and
attacked the members of Congress — starting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi
— who dared to affirm those proud pages of U.S. history, American
support for the victims of the Armenian Genocide. The resolution is on
hold, awaiting a less hostile administration. In the meantime, the
Armenian Genocide was front-page news around the world for days on
end.

* In the aftermath of the firing of Ambassador John M. Evans in
September 2006 for properly referring to the Armenian Genocide,
President Bush’s nomination and renomination of a new envoy who
refused to recognize the Genocide ended in failure. The president has
made a new nomination. We hope the administration will allow this
candidate to speak the truth.

* The Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish-American organizations
came under immense pressure from their constituents and the larger
community to take a principled stance on the Armenian Genocide. The
extent of Jewish-American anger at the denialist or overly pragmatic
positions of some Jewish leaders was a credit to the many who spoke
out.

* The Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum planned for Washington
remained at a virtual standstill, as efforts led by Gerard L.
Cafesjian to build a worthy museum and memorial continue to be
subverted. The matter remains in the U.S. federal courts.

* Scholarly consideration of Armenian civilization in Asia Minor and
its demise in 1915 continues with the greater participation of
scholars from Turkey. This is a positive development. A cause for
concern is that the number of Armenian scholars doing archival and
field research on the subject is very small, and support for such
research is inadequate.

* In the arts, books, movies, poems, music, and popular culture, more
of the many stories of the Armenian Genocide are being told. More and
more non-Armenians know about and care about this matter. This is an
important development of recent years.

* The Turkish government continues to criminalize public
acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide even as it and its proxies
make disingenuous calls for dialogue between Turkey and Armenia on the
subject.

* The restoration of the Armenian cathedral at Aghtamar in Lake Van —
as a Turkish museum, not a church or a monument to the Armenian
heritage — was the subversion of what could have been a great first
step on Turkey’s part. There has been no meaningful follow-up.

* The Turkish state is trying to come to grips, through legal reform,
with the decades-long practice of appropriating Armenian and other
minority-owned community property (churches, schools, hospitals, and
properties that provide financial support for such institutions). This
was a major item on the agenda of Hrant Dink, who was assassinated in
January 2007. But the new law neither stops the practice altogether
nor restores the bulk of previously taken property.

We cannot reasonably expect to win every battle. The progress we
have seen this year is not simply the work of a moment, but the fruit
of years of effort and groundwork laid by a generation of activists in
political, cultural, academic, religious, and other fields. The
struggle for justice we are waging is long, and having come so far, we
have no right to simply give up on it. By every objective measure, the
past year has been one of advancement for the cause of Armenian
Genocide recognition. It will not advance further if we relent.

In these circumstances, there is plenty for us to do as a community.
On this 93rd anniversary, many of us will choose private contemplation
and prayer as ways of remembering our lost relatives and the
civilization that Turkey destroyed. We urge our readers to go beyond
the private and attend public gatherings as well, to speak up to
family, friends, community leaders, the media, and their elected
officials. Starting on April 24, 2008, let the new year be one of
ever-greater progress.

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

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