Armenia, Iran’s gas pipeline construction talks in final stage

Prime-Tass English-language Business Newswire
March 30, 2004

Armenia, Iran’s gas pipeline construction talks in final stage

YEREVAN, Mar 30 (Prime-Tass) — The talks between Armenia and Iran
concerning the construction of a natural gas pipeline between the two
countries are now in the final stages, Armenia’s Energy Minister,
Armen Movsisyan told reporters Tuesday.

The final agreement is to be signed during the official visit of
Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh to the Armenian capital of
Yerevan, which is scheduled for the next few days, Movsisyan said.

According to Movsisyan, the agreement envisages starting construction
this year and completing it in approximately 2006.

The issue of the pipeline construction has been discussed since 1992
and the agreement between Armenian and Iranian governments concerning
the route of the pipeline was signed in 1995.

A construction agreement for the pipeline was signed in December 2001
during a visit of Armenian President Robert Kocharyan to Iran.

The first stage of the construction envisages laying a 100-kilometer
strand on Iranian territory and a 41-kilometer section in Armenia,
which will move 1.5 million cubic meters of natural gas to Armenia
every day.

The project is estimated at U.S. USD 120 million with the price of
natural gas at USD 84 per 1,000 cubic meters.

The pipeline may also stretch up to the Armenian-Georgian border,
Movsisyan said. In this case its length will amount to 550
kilometers, throughput capacity to 4.5 billion cubic meters per year,
and the cost of the project will reach USD 306 million, he added.

The pipeline construction project was also of interest to Russia,
Turkmenistan, Ukraine, EU countries and China.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has announced
its readiness to finance the project. End

Battle for Batumi

Agency WPS
What the Papers Say. Part A (Russia)
March 30, 2004, Tuesday


SOURCE: Kommersant, March 29, 2004, p. 10

by Gennady Sysoev

In fact, Moscow supported Adzharian authorities in the opposition
between Tbilisi and Batumi. It can be explained not only by Moscow’s
striving for confirmation of the role of guarantor of Adzharian
autonomy and for defense of Russian citizens, who live there. To all
appearances, Adzharia should play a key-role in the counter game,
which Russia tries to carry out in the region in order to resist the
growth of influence of the US.

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs determined Russian position
concerning the opposition between Georgian and Adzharian authorities
at the very beginning of the present conflict. “There are some
grounds for supposing that Tbilisi plans to use force. Georgian
authorities should understand that it can have severe and
unpredictable consequences for Georgia. In case of the crisis,
Georgian authorities will bear the whole responsibility for it,” the
official representative of Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated.

So, in fact, Moscow began to support Adzharian authorities in the
opposition between Tbilisi and Batumi. Moreover, this position hasn’t
been changed by yesterday’s parliamentary election in Georgia.

Besides, Adzharian leader Aslan Abashidze became a regular visitor at
Moscow. He was in Moscow for over a week last November during “the
rose revolution” and warned the Kremlin about guileful plans of new
Georgian authorities concerning Adzharia. Mr. Abashidze tried to
persuade Russia to support Adzharia in the probable armed conflict
between Tbilisi and Batumi during his visit to Moscow.

Moscow defended Adzharia and its leadership not because of its
special affection for the Georgian autonomy, but because of its
strategically important position in the region. Adzharia is the basic
exit to world for Tbilisi. Another way passes through Abkhazia, which
declared its independence, and it is practically inaccessible for
Georgian authorities. In fact, the loss of Adzharia will block the
entry to the Black Sea and connection with turkey for Tbilisi (a
small part of Georgian border near Poti is situated between Abkhazia
and Adzharia and that’s why it is vulnerable). So, Moscow can get a
powerful instrument of influence on Tbilisi if it establishes special
relations with Adzharia and its leader.

However, it isn’t the most important thing for Moscow. The main thing
is that, to all appearances, Adzharia should play a key-role in the
counter-game, which Russia tries to carry on in the region in order
to resist the growth of the influence of the US.

The construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline should be
over by the end of next year. It is a thing of key-importance for
Washington in its strategy in the region. The oil pipeline should
become an axis of US military and strategic construction, which
includes Central Asia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Some Central Asian republics have already placed their territories at
the disposal of US military bases. As for Georgia, Americans don’t
intend to construct bases there. In any case, their official
representatives say so. However, it isn’t necessary for them. The US
has an opportunity for using Georgian territory for needs of its
armed forces if it is required. At that, one shouldn’t ask Tbilisi
for any special resolution, because the necessary infrastructure and
legislative basis already exists. The US would like to establish an
analogous scheme in Azerbaijan. The negotiations about it are being
carried out.

The strengthening of US military presence in the region is being
accompanied with cutting down of presence of Russia there. In
accordance with Istanbul agreements, Moscow has already removed its
two military bases in Georgia. As for other two bases in Akhalkali
and Batumi, Russia’s Western partners and Georgian authorities remind
Russian President Vladimir Putin of the necessity of their removal.
If this process is carried to its conclusion, Armenia, the key (to be
more precise, the last) ally of Russia in Transcaucasia, will blocked
and cut off from Russia. Moreover, Russian bases in Armenia will lose
their military significance and sense.

In this situation, Moscow should have started a search for any
counter-game. It seems that it found this variant.

When Yuri Luzhkov came to Batumi at the very height of the
opposition, his circle explained the sense of his unexpected visit by
the following fact: Yuri Mikhailovich decided to check how the
agreements about construction of several objects in Adzharia by
Moscow builders were being realized. A lot of people doubted those
explanations than.

Highway Batumi-Akhalkali (Georgia) – Gyumri (Armenia) is among other
objects, which Moscow builders intend to construct in the region. To
all appearances, it should become a shank of the construction, which
Moscow wanted to create as a counterbalance to US one. The highway
would allow Russia to avoid the cutting off of Armenia, provide an
entry to sea for Russia’s ally, cut oil pipe-line Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
and give the opportunity for the control of the latter.

There are Russian military bases in all three key-points of the
highway – in Batumi, Akhalkali and Gyumri. At that, the authorities
in Batumi are Gyumri are absolutely loyal to Moscow and Javakhetia,
an ethnically Armenian region in Georgia with administrative center
Akhalkali, is under the control of Armenia. In case of Tbilisi’s
total control of Adzharia, the strategic significance of highway
Batumi-Akhalkali-Gyumri would lose its sense.

That’s why the result of the struggle for Batumi is very important
for Moscow (however, for the US too). Of course, it isn’t so
important that it could plunge Russia and the US into a new
confrontation. The control of Adzharia will allow the US to construct
its system in the region for a long time. However, it will allow
Russia, at least, to participate in this construction.

Translated by Gregory Malyutin

Azerbaijan leader, Duma speaker praise bilateral ties

RIA Novosti, Russia
March 29 2004


BAKU, March 29, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Gerai Dadashev) –
During their Monday meeting in Baku, Azerbaijanian President Ilkham
Aliyev and State Duma (lower house) Speaker Boris Gryzlov expressed
satisfaction with the state and dynamics of the relations between
their countries.

“We can see positive dynamics in all aspects of our relations and
palpable progress in the political dialogue between the two
countries,” said Mr. Aliyev.

In his words, there are no unsolved problems in Russia-Azerbaijan
relations. “All the differences are left in the past,” said the
Azerbaijanian leader.

As for the upcoming Russian-Azerbaijanian business forum due in Baku
in early April, Mr. Aliyev expressed confidence that “active
participation of Russian businessmen in Azerbaijan will promote the
two countries’ rapprochement.”

Mr. Aliyev also noted the role of Azerbaijanian and Russian
parliaments in expanding the two countries’ interaction.

“The level of co-operation between our countries, including
parliaments, is extremely high,” Mr. Gryzlov said in turn.

In his opinion, the activity of working groups for co-operation
between the two countries’ parliaments “will be aimed at real
interaction and real consideration of the two countries’ legislation
for the sake of common approaches.” In early April, the working groups
will meet in Moscow to discuss a series of draft laws that might be
suitable for adoption in both countries,” said Mr. Gryzlov.

The meeting continued behind closed doors.

On Monday, the Russian Duma speaker met Azerbaijanian Prime Minister
Artur Rasizade to discuss the two countries’ economic interaction and
also the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. In particular, Mr. Gryzlov asked
about the prospects of the gradual settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh

Mr. Rasizade gave detailed information about the sources of the
Karabakh problem and its current state. “Armenia today is acting as a
winner and shows no consistency in settling the conflict that causes
serious problems for the development of the region as a whole,” said
the prime minister.

Can you spare 12 bucks for the library?

Minneapolis Star Tribune , MN
March 21 2004

Can you spare 12 bucks for the library?
Peg Meier, Star Tribune

Margaret Howes raised the magic question:

“What if everyone in Minneapolis chipped in to support the library?
How much would it take?”

Good question, thought library director Kit Hadley, and reached for
her calculator. She divided the expected $4.5 million in state-budget
cuts by the Minneapolis population of 382,000.

“Twelve dollars,” she announced, rather stunned that the figure was
so low. “About $12 a person.”

A grass-roots movement sprang from Howes’ simple question last
summer. She was at a public meeting when the library board was
seeking comments on its financial struggles. What to do? Close
libraries? Keep all open but cut hours? Slash the staff? Stop buying

Hmmmm. Maybe get lots and lots of people to donate a little money?

The Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library took on what became
known as the “$12 Campaign.” The organization made posters and fliers
to distribute in the libraries. It sent out appeals. It invited
patrons to “do their part by making a gift to keep the libraries

The Friends were on to something, they soon realized. In the first
month, more than $27,000 came in.

Now, more than 1,600 contributors have joined the movement, donating
$66,000 to support the library system’s operating budget. About a
fourth of the donors send an even $12. The rest send more. (At least
one person sent less. See below.) The Friends, a nonprofit group,
cover all the administrative costs. Contributions helped save the
library’s Homework Helper Program and Summer Reader Program, two
long-standing efforts for kids. By shifting these programs to the $12
Campaign, the library was able to put more of its money into hours
and staffing.

While every $12 is appreciated, Hadley said, library people have been
especially touched by several contributions.

The most important thing

Margaret Howes, 76, the generator of the idea for the $12 Campaign,
grew up during the Depression: “We moved around a lot, but we always
had libraries to go to. My parents took me. I took my two children.
They take their seven children. As far as I’m concerned, libraries
are the most important things for cities to have.”

Howes, a retired office worker at Dayton’s, always has been a big
reader. She loves science fiction and has written a sci-fi novel.
Sci-fi people love to read and aren’t shy, she says, so at every
convention that she attends she hands out the library’s bright-yellow
appeals that say: “Can you help?”

She also passes out fliers at her apartment building, her church,
bookstores, her grocery stores and at Minneapolis Ragstock, where she
buys some of her clothes. Why bother to promote the library?
“Heavens,” she said. “It’s awful to have library hours cut. Libraries
are essential to a civilized society.”

Read to me

On the third Wednesday of each month, Katie McGinley reads to
preschool kids at People Serving People, a family shelter in downtown
Minneapolis. Her volunteer work is part of the Read-to-Me program
sponsored by the Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library. She has
three young children of her own to read to, and she enjoys sharing
their favorite stories with other youngsters.

“The library is such an integral part of the community that we wanted
to help somehow,” said McGinley, who’s a stay-at-home mom in
Minneapolis and frequent user of their neighborhood library. She and
her husband, Tim, a mortgage banker, found another way to help the
library. They sent a generous check.

Everybody chips in

“Aaaghhhh,” said 11-year-old Marielle Foster when she saw a sign on a
lamp post last summer saying that some Minneapolis libraries were
likely to be closed. That included the Linden Hills branch, which she
describes as “my personal favorite. It has a nice home-away-from-home

“What can I do?” wondered Marielle. She already had been raising
money for UNICEF, so she figured she had some applicable skills.

She and her 4-year-old brother, Lucas, went house-to-house in their
neighborhood to ask for contributions. She hit up her dad for pocket
change. She enforced the family rule that anyone who swears in the
house has to chip in a quarter. She talked her brother Sam, 9, into a
donation. When she turned in her quart Mason jar to the Friends of
the Minneapolis Public Library, it contained $151.45.

“I personally am a fanatic reader,” said Marielle. “It’s nice knowing
I could help.”

A family affair

Mary Oakley sent the library a check for $42. Here’s how she arrived
at the figure:

She and her two daughters, Elsa, 18, and Claire, 16, love to read and
go to various libraries a few times a week. That was worth three $12
contributions. Her architect husband, Steve, visits a library only
every three or four weeks and just recently has begun to enjoy
reading fiction. Mary thought that was worth a $6 donation. And their
son, Martin, 14, “would prefer a pointed stick in the eye to a
library visit,” she wrote in a note with her check. “So I’ll go with
$42 for now.”

Not just acting

Vhannes Koujanian is an Armenian who was born 46 years ago in Beirut,
Lebanon. The Armenian community tried to keep its culture alive there
through music, literature, visual arts and theater. He was acting on
stage by age 7. But there was no such thing as public libraries.

He moved to Paris, then Bloomington, Ind., 24 years ago and to
Minneapolis 12 years ago. He loves libraries and calls them knowledge
banks. “I care about literature — words,” he said, “and one way to
get them is in libraries. Libraries are not only beautiful. They are

To pay the bills, Koujanian is a commercial painter. To make his soul
leap, he does theater. So what could he do to help the libraries? He
remembers thinking, “Maybe there are others like me who love theater
and want to keep the libraries open.”

He and Sophie Breer (they were married Saturday) run a little group
called the Northeast Actors Theater Company. They and 27 cast members
volunteered their time and talents to put on six shows of “The
Madwoman of Chaillot” in November at the Edison High School
auditorium. They suggested a contribution of $10 from adults and $5
from seniors.Students were admitted free. Every dollar was donated to
the library. That was $2,700, enough to cover the $12 Campaign for
225 people.

A long way to go

“The $12 Campaign got rolling in late July, after the Library Board
made its decision to keep all libraries open. The power of the $12
Campaign was to put these overwhelming cuts in human perspective and
to give individuals the opportunity to participate in a solution.

“We are still a long way from even adequate library service in
Minneapolis, but every day more people are organizing to support our
libraries. The $12 Campaign is just the beginning of a very broadly
based, city-wide movement to support a library system that fulfills
its mission of linking people to the transforming power of

— Colin Hamilton, executive director, Friends of the Minneapolis
Public Library

To contribute $12 to the operating budget of the Minneapolis Public
Library, see or write to the Friends of
the Minneapolis Public Library at 250 Marquette Av., #400,
Minneapolis MN, 55421. The Friends phone number is 612-630-6174.
Checks should be made out to Friends of the Minneapolis Public

More signs of increased seismic activity in Armenia

March 22 2004


GYUMRI, MARCH 22, ARMENPRESS: The northern branch of the National
Survey for Seismic Protection (NSSP), situated in the town of Gyumri,
said there are indications of increased seismic activity in Armenia’s
northern regions.
Since the start of 2004 it has registered around 200 tremors
against last year’s 30 minor tremors. Slight tremors are still being
registered following a January 16 earthquake ranging from 3-4 on the
Richter Scale in the Armenian marzes of Lori, Shirak and Tavush.
These tremors though being of small size, are registered several
times a day. The epicenter is north-west of Spitak, the scene of a
destructive earthquake in 1988 that razed to ground the north of
Armenia killing at least 25,000 people. Another hub of the increased
seismic activity is near the resort town of Jermuk, some 150 km south
of Yerevan. however, experts claim these tremors are only of
discharging nature posing no threat.
In the wake of a powerful earthquake that hit the Iranian city of
Bam killing thousands of people the chairman of the Armenian
Association of Seismologists and Earth Physics, Sergey Balasanian,
warned that the earthquake in Iran would cause a high seismic
activity in the next 12 months in the whole region including Armenia.
“There is a clear indication of a new wave of seismic activity
traveling across the region,” Sergey Balasanian announced, however
his warnings were turned down by NSSP specialists, who cautioned that
such announcements have to be done very careful not to spread a panic
among the population.

The softer side of Dr. Death

The softer side of Dr. Death

United Press International
March 3, 2004 Wednesday


Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan pathologist whose advocacy of euthanasia
embarrassed right-to-die advocates and landed him in jail, has become
a writer.

GlimmerIQs, a soft-bound collection of light verse, serious essays,
paintings, cartoons, musical scores and family photographs — went on
sale Monday for $26 a copy, the Detroit News reported Wednesday.

The book includes an illustrated guide to anatomical mapping and
Kevorkian’s skeptical musings on the low-carb diet craze, among other

Kevorkian’s book is available via the Internet, or at
the Ariana Gallery in downtown Royal Oak.

Kevorkian is at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, Mich.,
where he is in the fifth year of a 10- to 25-year sentence for
second-degree murder.

He was convicted for the injection death of 75-year-old Thomas Youk,
whose final moments Kevorkian videotaped and narrated on CBS’s “60
Minutes” in 1998.

“This book is what’s been keeping him alive,” Ariana Gallery director
Ann Kuffler, a longtime friend and supporter, said Tuesday.

Women call for resignation of Armenian leaders in holiday protest

Women call for resignation of Armenian leaders in holiday protest

Associated Press
March 8, 2004 Monday 8:20 AM Eastern Time

YEREVAN, Armenia

Hundreds of women who oppose Armenia’s leadership marched through the
capital on Monday, marking International Women’s Day with calls for
the resignation of President Robert Kocharian and his government.

Carrying flowers and signs reading “Women against arbitrary rule,”
about 1,500 women marched through central Yerevan to the president’s
residence, where they held a rally denouncing the authorities.

Speakers at the rally, which was organized by the Caucasus Mountain
nation’s political opposition, called for the removal of Kocharian and
his government and their replacement by opposition leaders.

Kocharian won a second term in presidential elections a year ago that
sparked mass protests, including nearly daily demonstrations between
the first round of voting in February 2003 and the runoff in early

The opposition alleged widespread violations in both rounds of the
election, including ballot-box stuffing and intimidation of its
activists. The election was followed by parliamentary ballot in which
the pro-government party won the most votes.

In April, Armenia’s Constitutional Court confirmed the results of the
presidential vote but suggested that a referendum be held within a
year to gauge the public’s confidence in the nation’s
leaders. Opposition leaders have pressed for the plebiscite.

International Women’s Day dates back to the Soviet era. Some former
Soviet republics have scrapped the holiday, but in Armenia, Russia and
some others it remains an official holiday and is widely celebrate.

Azerbaijan stops broadcasts from separatist Karabakh

Azerbaijan stops broadcasts from separatist Karabakh

Trend news agency
11 Mar 04


Trend correspondent S. Agayeva: The illegal broadcast of an Armenian
TV channel from Susa to other Azerbaijani territories has been
stopped, the minister of communications and information technology,
Ali Abbasov, has said in an interview with Trend news agency.

Since direct talks with Nagornyy Karabakh, which is under Armenian
occupation, were impossible, the ministry used technical means to
prevent the broadcast of the station.

Speaking about the illegal broadcast of other TV stations in
Azerbaijan, Abbasov said that this issue is being resolved within the
appropriate CIS bodies. Recently, the Azerbaijani, Armenian and
Russian communications ministries signed a protocol in Moscow to stop
illegal broadcasts on each others’ territory. Armenia gave assurances
that in accordance with the document it will stop its broadcasts.

System Of A Down Plan Benefit For Genocide Awareness
March 11 2004

System Of A Down Plan Benefit For Genocide Awareness

Show set for April 24 in Los Angeles.

by Jon Wiederhorn

System of a Down’s Serj Tankian (file) (Photo: MTV News)

In an effort to increase public awareness of the Armenian genocide,
System of a Down have organized a benefit show on April 24, the date
Armenians around the world set aside to recognize the atrocities
perpetrated for years against their people.

The band, whose members are all Armenian, will stage the show in Los
Angeles at the Greek Theatre. Most of the proceeds will be donated to
organizations including the Armenian National Committee of America,
which is lobbying the U.S. Congress to officially recognize the
Armenian genocide, in which the Ottoman Turks killed as many as 1.5
million Armenians between 1895 and 1915. The rest of the proceeds
will go to organizations that benefit victims of other genocides.

“You don’t see the Armenian genocide receiving much attention, and a
lot of countries haven’t even officially recognized it,” Tankian
said. “Whereas, I don’t think there’s a country that hasn’t
recognized the Jewish holocaust. And the information is out there.
There were over 200 articles printed in The New York Times alone
between April and December, 1915, about the horrific massacres by the
Ottoman Turks on the Christian Armenian population at the time.”

Tankian said the group organized the benefit to raise money, educate
their fans and create awareness through the media. System of a Down,
who have organized Armenian genocide postcard campaigns in the past,
decided to place themselves in the middle of the struggle because
they’re tired of waiting for U.S. politicians to act. Tankian said
that former President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush have
both promised to pass bills commemorating the genocide, but both
reneged for political reasons.

“It mostly has to do with [the U.S.] alliance with Turkey,” Tankian
said. “It’s a geopolitical concern more than anything. But that’s
still not an excuse. You can’t use politics, nor economics as an
excuse to cover up genocide. As we’ve learned, when you don’t
recognize something as horrible as that, it tends to repeat itself.

“And unlike Germany, who has accepted the Holocaust, we haven’t
gotten that from the Turkish government,” he continued. “They’re
denying it. They’re paying scholars to further their disinformation
campaigns. Imagine dealing with a holocaust that’s occurred and
having a government still denying it. And your government, the U.S.
government, contributes to it by not officially recognizing it. How
would you feel?”

Like most Armenians, Tankian lost many family members in the Armenian
genocide. “My family tree goes up to my grandfather and his
memories,” the singer said. “From there on, it’s cut off.”

>From the moment they formed in 1995, System of a Down have been
interested in educating their fans about the Armenian genocide. From
there, they became more interested in the political process and other
activist causes. In 2002, Tankian hooked up with Audioslave guitarist
Tom Morello to form Axis of Justice, an organization dedicated to
fighting corruption and standing up for workers’ rights.

“To me, the denial of the Armenian genocide and knowing the truth
that’s not fully out there opened my eyes to other injustices of the
world,” Tankian said. “It made me realize, hey, because of certain
things, people try to cover up crimes on a national and international
level, and it’s just horrifying. An injustice is an injustice.”