BAKU: New chairman of Russian Duma visits Baku

AzerNews, Azerbaijan
April 1 2004

New chairman of Russian Duma visits Baku

The newly appointed chairman of the Russian Duma (parliament), Boris
Gryzlov paid a two-day official visit to Azerbaijan on March 29.
During the visit, the Russian Speaker held meetings with President
Ilham Aliyev, Prime Minister Artur Rasizada and Speaker of the Milli
Majlis (parliament) Murtuz Alasgarov. Russian-Azerbaijani

relations and development of inter-parliamentary relations were
discussed during the meetings.

On Monday, President Ilham Aliyev received a Russian Speaker Boris
Gryzlov. Aliyev noted that bilateral relations were developing
dynamically and all the problems between the two countries had been

Underlining that Azerbaijan and Russia have also expanded bilateral
economic relations, President Aliyev said that the turnover of goods
between the two countries was increasing yearly, stating that the
Russian-Azerbaijani business forum will be held in Baku shortly.
Stating that the inter-parliamentary working group established within
the Russian Duma will direct its activities towards seeking common
ground, Gryzlov said that prior to the business forum, the working
group was scheduled to meet in Moscow early April. Updating the
Azerbaijani President on the Russian parliament’s activity, Gryzlov
said that today, for the first time, 306 MPs representing the ruling
Yedinaya Rossiya Party are in the Duma. The Russian Speaker said the
Duma had 29 committees which were headed by the MPs from the Yedinaya
Rossiya fraction. “Moreover, the Duma is working democratically. We
adopt a sufficient number of decisions based on the proposals put
forward by other fractions including the left-wing Communist Party of
the Russian Federation,” Gryzlov noted. He also said that the Duma
was carrying out mutual activity and exchanged inter-parliamentary
experience with the Azerbaijani parliament. Regarding Vladimir
Putin’s re-election as President of Russia as the ‘great victory of
the Russian people’, President Aliyev stressed that Putin had made a
great contribution to the democratic and economic development of
Russia. He also underscored that bilateral relations would give
impetus to the development of the two countries in the future. The
expansion of bilateral parliamentary relations was high on the agenda
during the meeting of Boris Gryzlov with his Azeri counterpart,
Murtuz Alasgarov on Monday. Elaborating on Russia’s parliamentary
elections held this February, Gryzlov said that the new composition
of the Russian Duma was comprised of all the democratic political
forces of the country. Underlining that the Russian parliament will
give priority to multi-sided relations with neighboring countries in
the future, Gryzlov said, “We are also very interested in developing
economic relations with Azerbaijan. Therefore, we plan to hold a
meeting of the Azerbaijani-Russian economic commission after the
gathering of the commission’s working group.” Touching upon the Upper
Garabagh conflict, Speaker Alasgarov regarded the occupation of
Azerbaijani lands by Armenia as a serious threat to Russia as well.
Stressing that there is a need for Russia’s support in the resolution
of the conflict, Alasgarov said, “Russia, as a co-chair of the OSCE
Minsk Group, should approach the matter sensitively. We are expecting
Russia to do much work in this respect.”

Hariri to visit Armenia in bid to strengthen ties

The Daily Star, Lebanon
April 1 2004

Hariri to visit Armenia in bid to strengthen ties

Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will travel on Thursday to Armenia for a
two-day official visit to promote bilateral ties between the two
During the visit, the founding of a Lebanese-Armenian joint committee
will be announced and the committee will hold its first meetings in
An agricultural agreement, a program on cultural cooperation and a
project on educational cooperation will also be signed during the

US General Thanks Armenia for Peacekeeping Effort


A1+ web site
31 Mar 04

“Armenian people should be proud of their peacekeeping platoon,”
Director of Plans and Policy, Headquarters US European Command,
Maj-Gen Jeffrey B. Kohler has said at Zvartnots airport.

Mr Kohler refused to comment on the brutal murder of the Armenian
officer in Hungary. “I leave it for the Hungarian leaders,” he said.

Kohler said he arrived in Armenia to thank the Armenian authorities
for the military unit sent to Kosovo and for the one to be sent to

“The USA is proud to have Armenia as a partner in the struggle against
terrorism and the reconstruction of Iraq,” Kohler said.

The US AF (Air Force) representative also said that one of the aims of
his visit is to look at new forms of cooperation. “We need time to
properly study the potential of the Armenian armed forces. For the
time being Armenia has voiced willingness to send trucks and sappers
to Iraq.”

Talks on Iran-Armenia gas pipeline reaching final stage

Talks on Iran-Armenia gas pipeline reaching final stage, says minister

Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran
31 Mar 04

The energy minister of Armenia Armen Movsisyan has said: Negotiations
are nearing the end on the construction of an Iran-Armenia gas

Movsisyan, referring to the two countries’ agreement on the
significant technical specifications of this project, added: It is
predicted that an agreement on the construction of this gas pipeline
would be completed during early days of the next Christian month April
, when Iran’s oil minister Bizhan Namdar-Zanganeh visits Armenia.

On the basis of this agreement, the gas pipeline carrying Iran’s gas
to Armenia will be completed in 20 months.

Arsinée Khandjian at Bay Area ANC “Hai Tad Evening”

Armenian National Committee
San Francisco – Bay Area
51 Commonwealth Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118
Tel: (415) 387-3433
Fax: (415) 751-0617
E-mail: [email protected]

Saturday, March 6, 2004

When I was first invited for an opportunity to speak tonight, I wasn’t sure
what it was that the organizers were hoping to hear me say. The response
came back to me very quickly in the form of a self-evident suggestion which
was to address the topic of “the role of the artist in Hay Tad (the Armenian
cause)”. When I say self-evident, I mean, from the perspective of the
organization’s mandate and history which is to keep the subject of and the
work towards the recognition of the Armenian Genocide alive and continuous.

As we know, both politics and the arts have been driving forces for social
change throughout history. Cultures that have rejected the influences and
challenges presented by artists have remained poorer and weaker as a society
and a civilization.

When artistic activities have been embraced by societies, the artists have
often found themselves inscribed in the history of that culture. Not only
in its art history, but also in the larger collective history. Over time,
the process of the creative endeavor as well as its outcome have come to be
identified with the personal beliefs and views of the artist himself.
Undoubtedly, his personal experiences and morals influence his inspiration;
but if the resulting expression runs counter to the dominant, accepted
ideology of a particular society, – sadly, we’ve seen time after time, – the
most common reaction is to label the work as “propaganda”.

Over the years, as Atom Egoyan and I discussed the question of the Armenian
Genocide, the history’s effects on us as survivors, and the burden on the
Diaspora to face the denial of this inconceivable pain, one question kept
coming back unfailingly. It was a question in two parts: “Why and how to

As long as we were not directly exploring this very history through our
work, the challenge for us remained in understanding it on a personal level
– in understanding its effects on our identity. However, when we decided to
address these issues in a film work that would explore our Armenian identity
and expose the effects of the Genocide on it, not only did the two-part
question resurface – more than that – what became clear was that there was
an inherent danger in the simple fact of raising the topic. In the face of
an unsettled historical event, it was difficult to just follow the natural
law of the creative process which normally allows artists to speak from what
they know and what they believe in, what inspires their work and what
substantiates their imagination. The infamous question of `why to remember’
started putting us in a defensive position. Explaining and contextualizing
our work were not unusual to us. Artists’ views and observations are often
challenged for their meaning, their accuracy, and their pertinence in light
of established conventional values. But the position we found ourselves in
this time was atypical because as our responses ran the risk of being
perceived as political stances. For some, the initiative of the film was
further evidence of our engagement in a political act. They felt that not
only had we decided to remember the Genocide, but we were also suggesting
“how to remember” it – which brings me to the heart of the subject.

“Ararat” was designed to be first and foremost a work of art inspired by
humanistic and creative concerns previously present in the filmmaker’s body
of work. Atom Egoyan says in his introduction to the screenplay: “The
problem with any film that deals with the “Armenian issue” is that there are
so many issues to deal with… From the moment I began to write this
script, I was drawn to the idea of what it means to tell a story of horror.
In this case, the horror isn’t only about the historical events that took
place in Turkey over eighty-five years ago, but also the enduring horror of
living with something so cataclystic that has been systematically denied.
Without getting into the mechanics of that denial (there are a number of
books and articles on that issue), it is important to note that the role of
the director in my film-within-the-film is monumental. Edward Saroyan, and
his screenwriter, Rouben, are faced with an awesome task. They will be the
first filmmakers to present these images to a wide public. If their film
seems raw and blunt in its depictions, it’s because they are the first
people to cinematically present these “unspeakable horrors.” (later he adds)
most of the conflicts that occur in the contemporary story are related to
the unresolved nature of not only the Genocide, but also the difficulties
and compromises faced by the representation of this atrocity. How does an
artist speak the unspeakable? What does it mean to listen? What happens when
it is denied? (and finally) thus the screenplay had to tell the story of
what happened, why it happened, why it’s denied, why it continues to happen,
and what happens when you continue to deny. Ararat is a story about the
transmission of trauma. It is cross-cultural and inter-generational. The
grammar of the screenplay uses every possible tense available, from the
past, present, and future, to the subjective and the conditional.”

These incessant questions, – either in preparation for the production, or as
voiced by the character of Saroyan in the film, and again raised by the
filmmaker after the completion of Ararat, – are a clear indication that at
no point was there a desire to prove that the history was true. Instead,
the only concern was to find a way to give voice to a true history, to
retrieve it from oblivion and make the viewers ask themselves why they have
never heard of it. These were the obligations felt by the filmmaker.

Nevertheless, in the last two and a half years, we were to be confronted by
many politically charged situations and accusations. There is no doubt that
in the case of Ararat, the artifact itself, the film as an object, has
become in many cases a political instrument. As you may well know, opinions
are expressed regularly from various Turkish sources that adamantly reject
what the film represents, despite the fact that only a few of the respective
parties have actually even seen it. And, perhaps, there are Armenians who
may have not fully appreciated the thematic treatment of the movie and yet
they will unconditionally support it because it is “about the Armenian
Genocide”. These reactions and developments may be considered inevitable
given the political contrapositions on the subject. They do, however,
suggest that as artists we, nonetheless, have to be prepared to enter into
political discourse and sometimes directly so.

I will take a moment to describe one recent incident that not only caught
Atom and me by surprise but once again made us wonder to what extent the
artist is to be involved in the realm of political action even if that is
not his objective or choice.

It was end of December last year, just before the holidays, when we heard
that Erkan Mumcu, the Turkish minister of culture and tourism, had announced
that “Ararat” will finally be shown in Turkey. This came as a big surprise
mixed with excitement and suspicion. After all, we had already heard when
the film was screened publicly that festival organizers would invite it to
the Istanbul film fest. We had heard encouraging words from Turkish
journalists and critics that the film should be shown to Turkish audiences.
We were even approached by the head of a distribution company called Belge
film, who would take it upon himself to open the movie in Turkey. But all
these expressions of interest and curiosity had amounted to very little.
The individual initiatives were either not sincere enough or strong enough
to change a government policy shunning all discussion about anything
directly related to the subject of the Armenian Genocide. The more
organized campaigns were to refute the validity of the film both from a
historical and artistic perspective. Just before the opening of the film in
the states, over two thousand e-mails had inundated Disney’s and Miramax’s
head offices, claiming historical distortion and propaganda. One may
imagine, therefore, our amazement at this latest news where the minister was
announcing, through one of the most important press agencies in the world,
associated press, that “Ararat” was to be screened to Turkish audiences.
This was to show that the country was a serious proponent of democratic
ideals and that the release of the film was an example of Turkey’s tolerance
and openness as a society. The message appeared to be that Turkish citizens
should be entitled to their own opinion after having a chance to see the
film. These statements were commendable but they indicated a drastic shift
in the government’s position. Why now, we asked ourselves? After all, most
of the initial buzz, impact, concerns and accusations had already had their
run and the subject of the controversy around the film was slowly fading away.

Atom, in his magnanimously generous and optimistic outlook was happy about
this news. It was his hope that Turkish society would have a chance to see
this work along with previous ones, as part of his ongoing fascination with
human tragedy.

I, on the other hand, was much more skeptical. The news was too good to be
true. The vociferous articles that had been published over the past two
years in so many Turkish papers did not give me a sense that this
announcement could be anything other than rhetorical. I decided not to get
my hopes too high and naively be seduced by an intangible gesture. In a
strange way, I was even uneasy that “Ararat” would finally be released in
Turkey. I felt a sense of manipulation and opportunism guiding this highly
volatile announcement. As if, someone was walking into my garden, picking
up my golden apple, and walking out into the world to show the discovery. I
was determined to follow the turn of events as closely as possible until I
heard that the film was actually running in Turkish theatres.

Unfortunately, my instincts were well founded. It didn’t take us long to
find out that not only was the decision of the government challenged by the
nationalist action party, but also that any individual choosing to attend
screenings would suffer the consequences of the decision to shame Turkey by
paying dearly with his or her life.

Of course, this time no international media was to report these latest
developments. We found out about it through individuals who read Turkish
newspapers and who took it upon themselves to inform us of the way the
situation was unfolding.

As one may guess, Turkey needed to persuade the European Union through a
grandiose gesture of her ongoing efforts to establish democratic values as
an enduring principle of social and political course. “Ararat” with its
international profile was a perfect “golden apple” to show off at this
occasion. This strategy would not, however, survive the precarious
democratic structures on which this recently elected government was trying
to hold itself up.

My feeling was that something had to be done before this development would
go unnoticed and the world would remain with an initial false impression.
“Ararat” was not to see “the light of projector” in Turkey, and this,
everyone had the right to know without ambiguity. This was, yet again,
another example of deception, not only for us the filmmakers, but also for
every righteous citizen in the international community. Often our
politicians, for political expediency and alliances, fail to keep us from
knowing what is true and what is not. But this sort of knowledge is not a
privilege, it’s a public right.

I started to talk about it with friends, with community leaders, with
activists. To my surprise, I was to be given predictable generic responses
such as: “Oh well! It’s hardly surprising! But what can be done?” Or “there
are so many other issues to deal with when it comes to denial; this is more
or less one other small example of it”. Or “Armenian organizations have
more important ongoing concerns and this situation is only another
“velveloug”, rumor, not worth prioritizing it necessarily”. When I called
an American/Armenian organization to exchange ideas about a possible way to
address the situation, my phone call was not to be returned. Amazed by this
dismissal, I complained to someone in private, at which point I heard
something that amazed me even more: “What! Just because you’re a movie star
you think the person would have to take your call? Don’t you realize how
busy they are handling major Armenian issues?” I didn’t need insult from my
own people over injury from Turkish politicians.

I informed Atom that this case was not to be abandoned. We needed to
publicize the incident in a media-wide splash. After all, the Turkish
government has had the “presence d’esprit” to use the press in the first
place. Why stop them in their own device?

That’s when the ANC chapter in Toronto was contacted. I will personally
name Aris Babikian because he was the one person, who listened carefully to
what I was proposing as an opportunity and as an approach to turn the
situation around in our interest. I am thankful and humbled by his
generosity to commit the time and effort to this cause. He did it single
handedly by calling upon every Toronto newspaper editor. Soon, the
journalists were calling in to speak with Atom and find out what sources in
Turkey had to be contacted to substantiate the story. They managed to get
hold of the distributor who had rejected the offer of the minister of
culture to provide police force in protection for audiences attending the
public screenings. How could one take on, after all, the responsibility of
threatened lives? The Turkish ambassador in Ottawa was asked for an opinion.
He responded that this situation was not an example of a failing democracy
in Turkey… Finally, the same minister of culture gave in. Pressured by
demands for answers from Canadian journalists, he claimed that it was all a
ploy by the Canadian distributor of “Ararat” who had forced Turkey to
purchase the film, in order, to show later that Turkey was not an open,
tolerant society.

Yes. All this was reported in the Canadian press, nationally.

But the major success of this media campaign was marked when the editor of
the globe and mail, one of our most influential national papers, gave a most
unprecedented editorial write up, firmly establishing an explicit editorial
policy by calling the events of 1915 a genocide, and venturing even further.
Under the title, blocking Ararat, read the following passages: “If only
stories were as powerful as Ulku Ocaklari, the youth wing of a Turkish
nationalist group, seems to think they are! Threats of violence from the
group this month caused a film distributor in Turkey to withdraw Atom
Egoyan’s movie Ararat, about the 1915 genocide of an estimated 1.5 million
Armenians, before its debut on Turkey’s movie screens. Ulku Ocaklari must
be among the last believers in the power of art to change the world. (He
continues) the movie provides a test of the country’s political maturity at
a time when Turkey is pressing to join the European Union… Turkey is
failing the test. (later, he asks) What do the nationalists fear would
happen if Turks sat down to watch Mr. Egoyan’s complicated tale, much of
which is about the effects of the Genocide on Canadian Armenians today? The
stirrings of empathy, the desire for reconciliation? A wish to know more, to
seek the truth about their country’s history?… Despite the efforts of
countless writers to bear witness – genocidal campaigns still flourished in
Cambodia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Even so, the artists and others
will continue to come forward, because they must. (and he concludes) in the
end, the Turkish people are the poorer for this violent threat against their
freedom to think.”(1)

Soon, ANC Washington and Los Angeles chapters were contacted and took it
upon themselves to alert the American press. What started up as being one
more affront in the ocean of assaults and deceptions regularly obstructing
the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, turned into a premise to serve the
truth. This time, both the New York Times and the Los Angeles times
reported on the blocking of the film, not with such a unequivocal sense of
outrage as their Canadian counterpart, but then again, it is consistent with
the differences that mark the Canadian and American ways of contemplating
the world!

So, what is the role of the artist in Hay Tad?

Anatole Baja, a French theorist of the decadence movement, asks the
following question regarding the poet’s pursuit : “Isn’t their (the poets)
aim to seek the quintessence of things, to extract from them the most
intense perfume, in order to produce, in a few instants, a saraband of
striking visions giving the sensations of the manner of facts?”(2)

If this is the blessing, the power, the talent, and the vocation of the
artist and of the poet, then let me answer that question with another
question. What is the role of hay institutions, of hay politicians and
lobbyists, of hay culture and hay nation towards the artist? How do we
ensure that we acknowledge each other’s presence and we validate, as a
worldwide community, the differences among us? How do we bridge the gaps,
the lack of communication, and the ignorance that often plague the ever so
crucial bond linking a society to the voice of the artists?

I firmly believe that the role of the artist is to make art. But more
importantly, I consider it indispensable that societies appreciate closely
artistic processes and legitimize the endeavor of their artists; that they
come to understand there are several ways to accomplish goals towards a
promising future and that, in this respect, the artist is a major asset,
influence, and contributor.

Atom Egoyan and I never dreamt of writing a manifesto or a work of
propaganda with Ararat. All we wished for was to explore with rigor and
critical honesty the very essence of what we have to carry on as an identity
in our lives. That Armenians and hundreds of thousands of other citizens in
the world heard what “Ararat” had to tell is nothing other than a
celebration of the power of art to reach the heart and the mind of humanity.

If we played a role in Hay Tad, it was only because we first and foremost
believed in the need to tell our story as we know it. Thank you.


(1) “Blocking Ararat”, in The Globe and Mail, Monday, Jan. 26, 2004.
(2) Legitimizing The Artist, Manifesto Writing and European Modernism,
1885-1915, Luca Somigli, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Buffalo,
London, 2003, p. 85.

World: Byzantine Treasures In New York Reveal Power Of Faith and…

Radio Free Europe, Czech Republic
March 22 2004

World: Byzantine Treasures In New York Reveal The Power Of Faith And
A Mingling Of Cultures
By Nikola Krastev

A landmark exhibition featuring three centuries of Byzantine culture
opens tomorrow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Seven
years of research, negotiations, and collaboration have brought
together 377 artifacts from 27 countries — among them Russia,
Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, Romania, Macedonia, Egypt, Greece,
and Turkey. Many of the masterpieces are borrowed from churches and
monasteries, and have never been exhibited before.

New York, 22 March 2004 (RFE/RL) — The “Byzantium: Faith and Power”
exhibit covers the period when Constantinople resumed its role as a
cultural and political center of the Eastern Roman Empire until 1557.

That was the year when the German scholar Hieronymus Wolf coined the
term “Byzantium” to identify the state that a century earlier had
been conquered by the Ottoman Turks (in 1453).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has already held two large-scale
exhibitions covering the art of earlier periods of the Byzantine

But museum director Philippe de Montebello says that the current show
is broader in its scope and significance.

“Many of us could not imagine that, even under the normal
circumstances, we would be able to bring together the far vaster
canvas of the three centuries [that followed the Fourth Crusade of
Constantinople in 1204]. And as we approached the period of
incredibly difficult geopolitical problems, one would have thought
that projects such as this would simply peter out and disappear,” de
Montebello said.

The prevailing theme of the exhibit involves Orthodox Christian
iconography, but the show also includes frescoes, textiles,
liturgical objects, royal stamps, coins, and manuscripts.

The exhibition examines the significance of Byzantine culture for the
Latin West — especially its importance in the development of the
Renaissance — as well as for the world of Islam.

Helen Evans, the exhibit’s curator, says the popular perception of
late Byzantium is as a fatalistic and strictly religious cultural
domain because of the impending conquest of the Ottoman Turks.

But she says the new exhibit proves the contrary, with works of
stirring optimism that also demonstrate how Byzantine culture
influenced the Orthodox Christian states in medieval Europe.

“I hope this exhibition will make people understand the optimism with
which the [Byzantine] empire regained its capital in 1261, the
cultural exuberance that went with that optimism, and that we, who
stand at the other end of the history of the state, will recognize
that political fates do not necessarily correspond with cultural
ones,” Evans said.

De Montebello says his museum has well-established exchange programs
with world-class cultural institutions in Western Europe, and that in
the last decade there has been a sharp increase in collaboration with
a number of museums in Central and Eastern Europe as well.

“Many of these countries — with the exception of very few in Western
Europe and the lenders from the United States — [were] forming part
of the later Byzantine Empire, or — and this is why it accounts for
the breadth of [the show] — the rival states that also embraced the
art and culture of Byzantium later on,” de Montebello said.

Overall, says curator Evans, there was a positive response from most
of the institutions asked to contribute works of art to the
Metropolitan exhibit.

Some countries, however, did not participate — notably, Armenia.
Evans said she was attempting to bring into the exhibit works of art
that will show the greatness of the Kingdom of Cilician Armenia
(10th–14th century) and its ambition to be a new Byzantium, with its
control over the trade routes, and its wealth and power.

“I’ve had just as much irritation with institutions in England,
France, and Germany as I’ve ever had in Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and
Greece. It’s individual institutions and individual people that, at
my level of dealing, create the problems. And the problems are often
quite justified and sometimes they are just personalities. The worst
one this time was not in Russia,” Evans said.

Evans said issues sometimes arose over borrowing works that are still
actively venerated religious objects. The Metropolitan had to
convince the clergy and the lending state that it will be able to
properly take care of them.

Forty-three works from the St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Monastery in
Sinai, Egypt, are included in the Metropolitan exhibit. Thirty of
them have never before left the monastery grounds. Situated on the
Sinai Peninsula, which connects Africa and Asia, the monastery has
received an extraordinary mixture of pilgrims from Byzantium and
neighboring states, Western Europe, and Islamic lands.

The popular perception of late Byzantium is as a fatalistic and
strictly religious cultural domain because of the impending conquest
of the Ottoman Turks.The late Byzantine period witnessed extensive
contacts between the complex worlds of Byzantium and Islam. Cultural
interactions occurred at various levels of society, especially among
the elite, merchants, and the military. Christian artists in the
conquered lands combined decorative trends from their Islamic milieus
with Byzantine traditions.

Muslim artists were inspired by Christian art as well. The cultural
influence of Byzantium did not wane over the years even as its
political power weakened. Byzantine goods and art were much sought
after by Muslim Seljuk and other courts. Rulers of Seljuk Rum and
later Ottoman sultans adopted Byzantine traditions and monuments.

Evans says Byzantine art was also a source of inspiration and
influence for some of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

“A number of people, when this art was beginning to be studied at the
beginning of the 20th century, thought of it as a great source for
modern and contemporary art. And there are people who have already
gone through the show and seen it in terms of Gustav Klimt and
[Pablo] Picasso and other figures. It was very much part of the type
of works of art that were being considered at the turn of the 20th
century,” Evans said.

Among works exhibited are The Gospel Book (1350) held in the National
Library of Russia, St. Petersburg; the Reveted Icon with the Virgin
Hodegetria (late 13th century), held in the State Tretyakov Gallery
in Moscow; the Gold Seal of Tsar Constantine Asen (1268), held in the
Archeology Museum in Sofia; Queen Theodora’s Ring (before 1322), held
in the National Museum, Belgrade; and the Shrine of King Stefan Uros
the Third Decanski (1343), held in the Decani Monastery, Kosovo.

The exhibit continues through 4 July. The Metropolitan is also
running an extensive cultural program focused on late Byzantium that
will include symposiums, concerts, film screenings, as well as
community and workplace programs in New York City and New York State.

Items from the exhibit can be seen at:

Risk equals reward

Edmonton Sun (Alberta, Canada)
March 21, 2004 Sunday Final Edition


Two Edmonton brothers, barely out of their teens, go to work as
furniture manufacturing reps.

Their parents, originally Armenians from Turkey, come to the city via
Venezuela with nary a dime in their pockets.

George and Jack Saroukian go on to open their own upper-end furniture
store. Finesse Furnishings opens as a small store on 51 Avenue.

Eighteen years and a detour through the west end later, they are in
their beautiful new $25-million digs in what was the old IKEA site
off Calgary Trail. The new store is almost three times bigger than
its west-end predecessor.

In just two months, Finesse Furnishings opens in Montreal. Three more
Canadian locations are planned. Headquarters, the Saroukians promise,
will always be Edmonton.

– Moving on from Redtail Landing is Jamie Driscoll. He is now “head
pro” at the new ReTee Golf Centre.

“We’re an indoor practice facility,” says Jamie, “with 20 swing
stations and a 15-metre gallery.” ReTee will offer golf instruction,
with a specialty in working with special- needs individuals. Jamie
and his wife, former figure-skating champ Lisa Sargeant-Driscoll, are
the parents of autistic four-year-old Tanner. “Our hope is to one day
start a foundation for autistic children,” says Jamie.

Pro-gov lawmakers denoucne opposition calls for change of power

March 18 2004

YEREVAN, MARCH 18, ARMENPRESS: Pro-government members of Armenian
parliament denounced today opposition calls for quick change of
power, warning that any anti-constitutional action would destabilize
the domestic situation.
On Monday the political council of the largest opposition
Ardarutyun bloc decided to start a massive campaign of rallies and
demonstrations to force president Kocharian to resign, setting early
April the deadline. Ardarutyun also hopes that another major
opposition party, the National Unity of Artashes Geghamian will join
its massive street protests.
During a parliament briefing today Karen Karapetian of People’s
Deputy independent parliamentary group argued that “stability is more
important for me and what is being done within the boundaries of the
Constitution is similarly acceptable, ” “Our group has always been
for constructive approaches. We denounce opposition when its moves
run counter to the laws and similarly we call on government to
correct its mistakes,” he said.
Galust Sahakian, the head of the influential Republican party’s
faction, doubted opposition’s resoluteness to stage rallies in front
of government buildings. “To come and stand in front of the
presidential palace and demand the president’s resignation is not a
political process and I do not think that people would come to spend
day and night in front of the presidential residence,” he said.
Sahakian said his Republican party is trying now to establish a
dialogue with the opposition to understand what it after all wants,
denying concurrently a possible clash between the authorities and the
Hrayr Karapetian from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation said
his party is concerned with belligerent calls of the opposition,
which are distinctly in violation of the Constitution. ‘The ARF was
one time in opposition too, but it never let the developments slip
out of its hands, which is fraught with a civil war and as a
coalition member ARF will not allow it, as far as its capacities
allow,” he said.
Mher Shahgeldian from Orinats Yerkir said his party is for
democracy and that “revolutions would not yield anything good.”

BAKU: Azeri ombudsman urges Int chief to prevent police mistreatment

Azad Azarbaycan TV, Baku, in Azeri
11 Mar 04

Azeri ombudsman urges interior chief to prevent police mistreatment

[Presenter in studio] Ombudsman Elmira Suleymanova has appealed to
Interior Minister Ramil Usubov over the rude treatment of citizens by
the police. The Azerbaijani rights activist has sent another appeal
to her Hungarian counterpart.

[Correspondent] The ombudsman is expected to report on the human
rights situation at the Milli Maclis at the end of this month.
According to Azerbaijani ombudsman Elmira Suleymanova, her
institution has discovered that employees of the law-enforcement
bodies maltreat citizens. In this connection, an appeal has been sent
to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

[Suleymanova] We don’t have information that people are being
tortured by the police, but there is rude treatment. Our appeal also
concerns general improvements in the work of the police and the role
it can play in restoring human rights and in cooperating with the
ombudsman’s institute.

[Correspondent] The ombudsman also said that she had appealed to her
Hungarian counterpart asking for assistance in ensuring a fair trial
for Ramil Safarov who is suspected of killing an Armenian officer in

[Suleymanova] We have appealed to the Hungarian ombudsman over Ramil
Safarov’s case and I hope that this can contribute to the fair trial
of our citizen.

BAKU: Azerbaijan protests chess tournament in occupied Karabakh

ANS TV, Baku, in Azeri
10 Mar 04

Azerbaijan protests against chess tournament in occupied Karabakh

Baku has demanded explanation from Georgia, Russia, Iran, Latvia,
Poland and Switzerland as to why they are sending their
representatives to a chess tournament organized by Armenia in
Azerbaijan’s Nagornyy Karabakh under occupation, the Azerbaijani
Foreign Ministry said in a statement circulated today.

The statement said that the Azerbaijani sports public had called on
the World Chess Federation, FIDE, to appeal to Armenia which is
controlling Nagornyy Karabakh and other Azerbaijani territories under
occupation [to call off the tournament].

FIDE issued a statement saying that it would not recognize the
results of the tournament. Nevertheless the Armenian government and
the puppet establishment under its control did not want to miss the
chance of staging another propaganda show.

The organization of such tournament in the occupied Azerbaijani area
despite FIDE’s official warning is an obvious example of Armenia and
the separatist forces which it supports using sports for their dirty
tricks. The countries which sent their sportsmen to Nagornyy Karabakh
should realize that Karabakh is Azerbaijan’s integral part and any
events held in this area without Azerbaijan’s consent are illegal.