Soccer: England start steadily
March 25 2004

England start steadily

Hosts England made a solid start to the Group 2 mini-tournament as
they began their quest to qualify for the UEFA European Under-17
Championship finals for a third successive time.

Enthusiastic crowd
John Peacock’s side got the better of a spirted Armenia at
Hillsborough, Sheffield in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 7,000.
England began the stronger, with Shane Paul hitting the bar early on
after excellent play from Gary Roberts. However Armenia, particularly
through the ever dangerous Edgar Manucharyan, also threatened

Spot-kick opener
England took the lead in the 18th minute when Mark Noble was fouled
in the penalty area and duly beat Armenia goalkeeper Shahen Manvelyan
with the spot-kick. A second goal arrived in the 69th minute when
Paul combined with substitute Fraizer Campbell and blasted the ball
into the net.

Next games
In their next game, England will face fellow day-one winners Iceland
in Doncaster while the Armenians will take on the Norwegians in
Mansfield. Only the top side in the group will reach the eight-team
final tournament in France this May.

Nine Sister City Partnerships Awarded Sustainable Development Grants

March 24 2004

Nine Sister City Partnerships Awarded Sustainable Development Grants
Posted by: aneiberger

Topic PNN Worldwide

Nine sister city partnerships were awarded $45,000 in grant funds by
Sister Cities International to fund joint projects focused on
sustainable development in Eastern Europe and Eurasia.

The grants are funded and managed by the Office of Citizen Exchanges,
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

The grant recipients are: (1) Arvada, Colo. – Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan;
(2) Bloomington-Normal, Ill. – Vladimir, Russia, (3) Cambridge, Mass.
– Yerevan, Armenia, (4) Eugene, Ore. – Irkutsk, Russia, and World
Services of La Crosse, Inc., representing (5) Blount County, Tenn. –
Zheleznogorsk, Russia, (6) Fox Cities, Wis. – Kurgan/Shchuchye,
Russia, (7) La Crosse, Wis. – Dubna, Russia, (8) Livermore, Calif. –
Snezhinsk, Russia and (9) Los Alamos, N.M. – Sarov, Russia.

Sustainable development is a key focus for the growing international
organization, say organizers. “Engaging communities in projects that
can be sustained for the long-term is important,” said Tim Honey,
executive director of Sister Cities International. The organization
began a network focused on sustainable development two years ago to
facilitate collaboration and share best practices.

Citizen exchanges will play a critical role in developing these
projects. “Ordinary citizens can transcend cultural divides and unite
across cultures to tackle a difficult problem together,” said Honey.
“Citizen diplomacy can be amazingly effective.”

These are the first grants the network has awarded. A total of
$45,000 will be distributed as $5,000 seed grants. Funded projects
will tackle issues such as micro-financing, tourism development,
economic development, government, youth education, health care and
environmental management.

Arvada, Colo. and Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan will survey water management,
power supply and community planning. The partners aim to develop an
ongoing relationship that will design and help finance improvements
to the water and power supply system in Kyzylorda through joint

Bloomington-Normal, Ill. and Vladimir, Russia are working to develop
tourism in Vladimir. They will assess and inventory existing tourism
resources, compile a tourist market profile and develop a strategic
plan for the Vladimir region.

Cambridge, Mass. and Yerevan, Armenia will develop school-based
projects on energy efficiency in both communities to educate youth
about sustainable development and focus on linking students from
opposite sides of the globe. A children’s summer camp will focus on
environmental issues and provide training to help teachers expand the
program in Yerevan.

Eugene, Ore. and Irkutsk, Russia will create an entrepreneurial
partnership to sell native Siberian artwork in the Pacific
northwestern region of the U.S. This project builds on previous art
exchanges between the two communities and will help fund future
exchange activities.

The final five sister city pairs – Blount County, Tenn. and
Zheleznogorsk, Russia, Fox Cities, Wis. and Kurgan/Shchuchye, Russia,
La Crosse, Wis. and Dubna, Russia, Livermore, Calif. and Snezhinsk,
Russia and Los Alamos, N.M. and Sarov, Russia – funded through this
program are part of a unique consortium called the Communities for
International Development. Under the management of World Services of
La Crosse, the consortium will sponsor exchanges to Russia to conduct
planning sessions and develop a strategic plan addressing education,
economic development, federalism, health and the environment.

Representing more than 2,400 communities in 123 countries, Sister
Cities International is a citizen diplomacy network creating and
strengthening partnerships between the U.S. and communities abroad.
Begun in 1956 after a White House summit where U.S. President Dwight
D. Eisenhower called for people-to-people exchanges, sister city
partnerships are tailored to local interests and increase global
cooperation at the grassroots level. Sister Cities International
promotes peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation
by focusing on sustainable development, youth and education, arts and
culture, humanitarian assistance and economic growth programs.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of
State conducts over 30,000 exchanges annually, bringing professionals
and academics to the United States as well as sending Americans
abroad for study and research. The Bureau supports programs that
promote respect and mutual understanding between the people of the
United States and the people of other countries.

BAKU: Armenia must withdraw from Azeri lands – Uzbek president

Armenia must withdraw from Azeri lands – Uzbek president

Azad Azarbaycan TV, Baku
23 Mar 04

[Presenter Namiq Aliyev] Nagornyy Karabakh is an integral part of
independent Azerbaijan as was the case in Soviet times, Uzbek
President Islam Karimov has told a joint news conference with
[Azerbaijani President] Ilham Aliyev. Armenia must unconditionally
withdraw from the occupied lands, Karimov said. He added that the
stage-by-stage option for the settlement of the problem was more

[ATV correspondent Etibar Mammadov on the phone] There are a number of
reasons behind the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict. One of them was
Gorbachev and his team, Karimov said in answer to a question from our
ATV correspondent. Mr Karimov added that Gorbachev, who had done
nothing to prevent this problem, was still responsible. On the other
hand, Karimov stressed that the principle of maintaining Azerbaijan’s
territorial integrity must be a priority in the settlement of the
problem and only after that, should other issues be settled.

I see no prospects for the package option for settling the conflict,
Karimov said. He added that the stage-by-stage option for the
settlement of the problem was more expedient. According to Karimov,
although Armenia may not be pleased with his words, withdrawal from
the occupied lands is the first and necessary move. Karimov said that
Armenia has to be interested in withdrawing from the lands, lifting
the blockade of the railway on the occupied territories and returning
the refugees to their lands. Mr Karimov added that the status of
Nagornyy Karabakh and other issues could be settled only after this.

[Passage omitted: Reported details of Aliyev’s visit to Uzbekistan]

Police Say Ethnic Crime Groups in Moscow Do Not Support Terrorists


Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Moscow
12 Mar 04

Moscow police officials have rejected suggestions that the capital’s
ethnic criminal groups finance terrorists as this is not in their
interest. A newspaper article provides overview of main ethnic
criminal gangs in Moscow. The following is the text of report by Petr
Verigskiy and Ilya Zubko, headlined “Moscow’s criminal ethnic
communities” by Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta on 12
March. Subheadings have been inserted editorially:

Moscow is controlled by ethnic criminal groupings, most of which were
set up by former residents of the North Caucasus and
Transcaucasus. Ethnic gang members committed more than 4,300 crimes in
the capital city last year. Yesterday (11 March), staffers of the
Moscow GUVD (Main Directorate of Internal Affairs) UBOP (Directorate
for Combating Organized Crime) spoke about police efforts to
counteract ethnic criminal groupings.

“We cannot say that a particular ethnic criminal grouping in Moscow
occupies the leading position or is the most powerful,” Andrey
Bolshakov, chief of the First Operational Investigative Unit of the
Moscow GUVD UBOP, stated: “In addition, a considerable number of
crimes committed by members of these groupings have a latent character
and are directed against their fellow countrymen. Members of various
diasporas are, so to speak, stewing in their own juice and prefer to
sort out their internal problems without anybody’s
help. Specialization of gangs from Caucasus

Naturally, it is pointless to speak about the specific number of
members of particular criminal groupings: Gangs do not issue
membership cards to their members. However, one can state that each
gang set up based on the ethnic principle has its own

According to police data, the Azeri gang is the largest criminal
grouping operating in Moscow. Its members, in particular, control drug
trafficking in the capital. More than 30 Azeri organized criminal
groupings currently operate in Moscow, mostly on the local
markets. The groupings are also involved in currency exchange frauds,
car thefts, and trading in stolen cars.

One of the oldest groupings – the Armenian one – “tackles” contract
murders and controls hotels and the gambling business. Some groupings
do not shun armed robberies and thefts.

The Georgian-Abkhazian grouping has the largest number of so-called
“kingpins.” The Georgian-Abkhazian conflict had absolutely no impact
on the ethnic unity of these two groupings. Its members specialize in
robberies, thefts, extortions, and financial frauds.

Chechen criminal grouping “goes beyond rules”

The Chechen criminal grouping is considered the most odious in
Moscow’s criminal world. The point is that this grouping does not
recognize the peculiar code of the criminal world set by “kingpins”
and always “goes beyond rules.” The Chechens’ activities are very
diverse and include extortion, kidnapping, arms trade, drug
trafficking, and control of banks, hotels, casinos, entertainment
centres, and markets. This organized criminal grouping is more unified
than any other gang.

Asian gangs

The groupings comprising guests from Asia – Chinese and Vietnamese –
are among the most “closed” ones. The Chinese associate exclusively
with members of their narrow circle and promptly transfer profits to
their homeland.

The Chinese grouping is divided into several smaller groups based on
the territorial principle: “Beijing,” “Harbin,” and “Shanghai” (the
“Beijing group” is considered the cruellest one). Members of the
Vietnamese organized criminal grouping, just as the Chinese, mostly
control the activities of their fellow countrymen legally residing in
Russia. Both the Chinese and the Vietnamese also trade in precious
metals and often get involved in the sale of “slaves” to the European
countries through Russia. The peculiar features of the Asian gangs are
very strict discipline, implicit obedience to leaders, and mutual
protection. Apprehended members of the “brigades” are sometimes so
scared of their leaders that they categorically refuse to testify.

Criminals transcend ethnic barriers

“Criminal groupings divided Moscow’s territory a long time ago,”
Yevgeniy Guzar, a section chief in the Moscow GUVD UBOP stated. “The
criminal war that was waged in the 1990 is over. Nevertheless, the
division of the spheres of influence continues all the time. New
people come and demand their spot under the sun. Curiously, ethnic
animosity is no longer as important as in the past. We happened to
detain Slavs and persons from the Caucasus, Armenians and Azerbaijanis
who jointly committed crimes. They place the lust for gain and profit
above all.”

Police reject links between Chechen terrorist and criminals in Moscow

Many people say that Chechen gunmen, for instance, are provided with
money by their fellow countrymen living in Moscow. In particular, some
people believe there is a link between the ethnic criminal groups and
the terrorist attack in the Moscow subway. Investigation officers
categorically reject these claims.

“It is disadvantageous for the groupings operating in Moscow,
including the ones from the North Caucasus, to support terrorists,”
Yevgeniy Guzar stated with confidence. “They have their families and
businesses here, and there is no guarantee that they will not be
damaged during terrorist attacks. Naturally, members of the diaspora
support their relatives in the hostilities zone. However, what
happens to the money after that is a different story. In any case we
do not have any information that they are intentionally ‘feeding’

The Oligarchs are finished

Agency WPS
What the Papers Say. Part B (Russia)
March 15, 2004, Monday


SOURCE: Sobesednik, No. 9, March 10, 2004, p. 8

by Oleg Roldugin

A new trend was observed in our antiquated economy last year. Russian
oligarchs cast aside their sham patriotism and declared a total
sell-off of their assets in Russia. And this was by no means the
result of tycoons fearing for their fortunes due to the moldering
YUKOS affair. On the contrary, Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s arrest actually
slowed down the hasty flight of money from Russia.

Stephen Jennings, CEO of the Renaissance Capital investment bank, has
expressed a curious opinion: there will be no more oligarchs in
Russia. He explained this to us as follows: “Over the next three
years, or five years at most, all of Russia’s oligarchs will either
sell off their property and leave the country, or transform their
companies into joint enterprises. Most companies are ready for sale
right now, if a suitable offer is made.”

The series of sell-offs was started by one of Russia’s largest
companies – the Siberia-Urals Aluminum Company (SUAL), owned by that
keen Faberge collector Viktor Vekselberg. In January 2003, Vekselberg
sold a 23% stake to the Fleming Family (Britain) and hired a
foreigner as chief executive.

This example proved contagious: everyone started selling. By February
2003, the Tyumen Oil Company (TNK) announced the formation of a joint
enterprise with British Petroleum. Then Malik Saidulaev decided to
bow out of Russian Lotto in favor of his partners. Alexander
Smolensky sold the O.V.K. Banking Group to the Interros holding
company for $200 million. Roman Abramovich said farewell to Aeroflot
and his stake in Russian Aluminum; he also announced the merger of
his Sibneft oil company with YUKOS. And a rumor spread that Oleg
Deripaska was seeking a buyer for Russian Aluminum.

Russia hadn’t been this attractive to investors since 1913. Foreign
moneybags scented the opportunity to secure Russia’s national riches,
primarily natural resources, at a tasty price.

“For our political elite, the transfer of strategic enterprises into
foreign ownership is not a question of principle, and everyone knows
it’s easier to do business with foreign companies,” said Mikhail
Khodorkovsky at the time, as he started negotiations with
ChevronTexaco and Exxon Mobil. However, Khodorkovsky miscalculated –
he was not permitted to sell YukosSibneft after all.

The outcome of the court case against Khodorkovsky and Co. is not yet
clear, but it has already played its role. Other business tycoons
have taken the hint. Abramovich is no longer selling Sibneft,
apparently; Deripaska has also backed away, though he hasn’t yet
broken off contacts with Alcoa. Even David Yakobashvili, the
politically neutral chairman of the board of Wimm-Bill-Dann, has
retreated: the dairy king’s negotiations with Danone (France) have
not resulted in a deal.

All the same, this doesn’t mean the period of major sell-offs is
over. On the contrary – it’s just getting started.

Mikhail Fridman, head of the Alfa financial-industrial group,
commented on the trend: “We are not professional managers, and we
ought to make way for the professionals.”

Stephen Jennings of Renaissance Capital also considers that although
the people who have risen to the top of the Russian business world do
have many talents – stealing and looting – they do not have
management skills. And that means the time has come for an influx of
experienced business executives from abroad.

And vice versa. Our oligarchs will be flocking to the West.

As this paradise of money descends on them from various sources,
Russian oligarchs aren’t only spending it on their beloved selves;
they are also investing it in their own projects abroad. Following
the wise council of one well-known hero from the movies, they prefer
to strike the hot iron without going too far from the cash register:
in other words, they’re buying assets in former Soviet nations (the
Baltic states and the CIS).

Take Oleg Deripaska, for example. Three years ago, Ukrainian Aluminum
(UkrAl), controlled by Russian Aluminum (RusAl), bought one-third of
the Nikolaevsk Alumina Plant, the largest producer of raw materials
for the aluminum industry in the CIS. Ukraine was delighted at first,
since under the terms of the deal the buyer was supposed to build a
new processing plant near Kharkiv. However, according to Mikhail
Chertkov, head of the State Property Fund of Ukraine, nothing has yet
been built there.

Now the State Property Fund of Ukraine says it has been cheated, and
is pushing for the agreement to be annulled. Rumor has it that Oleg
Deripaska himself flew to Kiev two months ago, attempting to get an
audience with President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine; but Kuchma did not
deign to receive the Russian tycoon, who has the status of a
“Yeltsin’s Family oligarch.” What’s more, the Interior Ministry of
Ukraine has launched an investigation into the forgery of some
documents; rumor has it that senior executives from UkrAl and RusAl
are implicated.

It is hardly surprising that Russian businesspeople, no matter how
honest, are not well-liked abroad.

For example, in May 2003 an auction was held in Latvia to sell part
of the state’s stake in the Savings Bank, Latvijas Krajbanka – and it
led to a scandal. The winner – Doxa Fund Ltd., registered in the
British Virgin Islands – was immediately accused of “dishonest”
behavior at the auction; and Doxa is linked to companies associated
with Alexander Mamut and Roman Abramovich. This is neither nice nor

Perhaps if Russian oligarchs go into the Baltic states with open
takeover intentions, or with none at all, they might get a more
friendly reception? Not in the least. YUKOS only hinted that it was
seeking to establish control over the Ventspils Nafta oil terminal in
Latvia, but this did nothing to make either the company or
Khodorkovsky more popular. Rather the reverse – the Latvians started
talking of a New Russian invasion.

The situation is similar in Lithuania. Friendship with aviation
tycoon Yuri Borisov, whom the special services suspect of having
contacts with Russian organized crime, cost President Rolandas Paksas
an impeachment vote, even though Lithuania generally has nothing
against substantial Russian capital (YUKOS and LUKoil have divided
Lithuania’s oil sector between them).

Neither are our semi-state-owned giants, like RAO Unified Energy
Systems and Gazprom, falling behind in conquering the wide expanses
of neighboring countries. Their subsidiaries are scattered across
many former Soviet republics. And the mobile phone networks look set
to expand into the CIS as well. It is rumored that the cellular
communications monopoly in Armenia will be none other than Megafon,
“in which Liudmila Putina, wife of the Russian president, indirectly
owns some shares” (quote from PanArmenian.Net). Megafon itself
modestly denies any such courtships in the Trans-Caucasus. Still, it
may have even more ambitious plans.

When capital flight from Russia is discussed, it’s usually in
reference to money being transferred to offshore tax havens. This is
true, but it’s not the whole story. The offshore zones only serve as
a transit point; from there, the money flows on either into the
pockets of its owners or into the economies of other countries.

The abovementioned investment abroad involves sums that are by no
means miserly. For example, six weeks ago LUKoil added another 795
gas stations to the 1,300 it already owned in the United States.
Vagit Alekperov purchased them from ConocoPhilips for $265.75
million. What’s more, no one can work out why he did it, since
LUKoil’s profits from this project in America are minimal. According
to one theory, Alekperov is courting the favor of President Bush,
seeking to get his share of the action in Iraq. Mideast oil is of
great interest to LUKoil. Sources at LUKoil say the company has
ambitious plans to launch a joint venture in Saudi Arabia. For the
time being, however, LUKoil is content with gas stations in America.

Besides this example, there are many other “Russians” doing business
in the United States. Unlike the owners of LUKoil, however, most are
distinguished by a suspicious degree of modesty. A source from a
leading radio station in New York reveals the reason: “Among our
advertisers who seem to be 100% American are quite a few
representatives of Russian capital. However, they downplay their
origins. Most likely, they’re only in America for the purpose of
laundering their ill-gotten gains.”

Such accusations can be heard in other countries besides the United
States. Take Mikhail Chernyi, for example – the original founder of
Deripaska’s aluminum empire. Chernyi heads so many companies that he
doesn’t even know the exact number of them, as he admits. And this
was the person Bulgaria dared to expel for bribe-giving in 2000 –
disregarding the fact that Chernyi and his partners (according to the
Bulgarian media) controlled Mobitel, Bulgaria’s only GSM operator,
and the Naftex petroleum trading group, and a number of metals
enterprises, and the Technology Industry group, engaged in developing
and marketing innovative technologies. Not to mention Levski-Spartak,
one of Bulgaria’s first division football teams.

After moving to Israel, Mikhail Chernyi ran into problems there as
well. The Israeli authorities suspect him of being the shadow
financial backer of a deal aimed at acquiring shares in the Bezek
telephone company. The investigation has been under way for over
three years, and Chernyi is still bound by a written undertaking not
to leave Israel. However, this isn’t preventing him from acquiring
assets in other countries.

Some parts of the Cote d’Azur have virtually turned into Russian
ghettos. For example, in 1997 a ten-hectare plot of land on the Cape
of Antibes was purchased for $14.5 million – apparently by some
“friends of Yeltsin,” whom the police immediately started
investigating on suspicion of corruption.

Over the past few years, Monaco alone has expelled over a hundred
Russians suspected of unlawful business dealings. The most prominent
was Vladimir Ponomarenko, a former KGB colonel. He was charged with
tax evasion to the tune of 38 million francs and sentenced to three
years in prison, but the chekist managed to flee to Canada.

It isn’t hard to see why even those proprietors of factories,
newspapers, or shipping who behave sensibly in the West still feel
somewhat uncomfortable. Lawful Russian business abroad is a rare
phenomenon. Whether in Russia or beyond its borders, the tycoons
prefer to stay in the shadows. And of late the oligarchs have shifted
to acquiring art objects en masse – buying up the works of Flemish
masters, or Faberge eggs, by the dozen. Why not? The profits are
almost the same as those from law-abiding business dealings, and it’s
a much safer investment option. Even if his company is confiscated,
an oligarch would still be able to keep his eggs.

Translated by Pavel Pushkin

All ways of conflict settlement lead to Stepanakert

Azat Artsakh, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh
March 8 2004


– Mr. Baburian, recently the discussion of the Karabakh conflict by
the European organizations on the plane of a territorial dispute
between Armenia and Azerbaijan has become evident. Whereas not very
long ago the same organizations considered the proclamation of
independence of Nagorni Karabakh the result of the collapse of the
Soviet Union. Which is the cause, in your opinion, for change of
approach. – In fact there were changes in approaches. I mean the
changes extended recently by the representatives of the Council of
Europe and the PACE. This is apparently connected with the fact that
the Karabakh conflict should be dealt with seriously. The OSCE Minsk
Group, which has been dealing with the problem for a long time,
already has its clear-cut approaches. It is doubtless for the Minsk
Group co-chairmen and it is accepted unambiguously that Nagorni
Karabakh is a conflict party. We should say that the same
Europarliament in March 1999 adopted a resolution where it is
directly stated that in September 1991 after the collapse of the USSR
the Autonomous Region of Nagorni Karabakh declared its independence
after the similar declarations of the former soviet socialist
republics. In my opinion the reason for the mentioned changes are
determined by the fact that formerly the Europarliament, the former
parliamentarians were attentive to the Karabakh conflict. Still in
June 1994 the NKR parliamentary delegation left for Strasbourg by the
invitation of the secretary chief of the Council of Europe to take
part in the discussion of the Karabakh conflict organized by the
commission on relations with non-member countries. In December 1998
at the discussion of the Karabakh conflict by the PACE political
committee in Paris the president of the republic Arkady Ghukassian
stated our approach in his speech, despite the fact that the
Azerbaijani party tried to prevent the participation of the NKR
delegation through putting pressure on the PACE in the form of an
ultimatum. However, the PACE showed fidelity to its principles and
did not refuse the former arrangement. That is to say, if formerly
the PACE made certain decisions, by all means met with the conflict
party, including Nagorni Karabakh. And this was, in my opinion, a
normal practice. Unfortunately, recently they have been deviating
from this principle. The representatives of the European
organizations often make hasty conclusions not having visited
Stepanakert and met with the main party of the conflict. For example,
the PACE reporteur on Nagorni Karabakh Terry Davis, who recently has
visited NKR, confessed that the meetings with the government of the
republic, the ordinary citizens were very important for him and
provided him with necessary and useful information for the report.
The second reason, in my opinion, is that the question of providing
materials is not accorded with the Armenian society. After the
meetings with Terry Davis I had the impression that this honourable
parliamentarian does not have a clear idea of what we the people of
Karabakh want. Mr. Davis put it directly that if the Azerbaijanis
state unambiguously that Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan, the Armenian
society has two opinions: either Karabakh is part of Armenia or it is
a separate republic fighting for its independence. To some extent I
understand the concern of the PACE reporteur. It is time that the
Armenians clarify their approach to the problem and bring forth a
united opinion. I think that controversies in this important issue of
national significance are impermissible. Our enemy skillfully makes
use of this, and we must confess that they have managed to shift the
problem of self-determination of Nagorni Karabakh to the plane of
encroachment of Armenia on the territory of Azerbaijan. That is why I
think that the determination of the people of Nagorni Karabakh
expressed by the referendum of December 1991 for independence should
be honoured, including in Armenia, as the only real way in modern
conditions. Besides, all the parts of the Armenian nations, Armenia,
the Diaspora and Nagorni Karabakh must make their rights and duties
in reference to the conflict settlement distinct. Because of not
being recognized de jure NKR is not represented in international
organizations and therefore the opportunities for expressing its
opinion are limited. In its turn the Diaspora must unite its efforts
to defend the interests of NKR. And for the fate of the settlement
the main responsibility must belong to Nagorni Karabakh as the main
conflict party, and the NKR government has a number of times
announced about their willingness to start negotiations with
Azerbaijan for the final solution of the conflict without any
preconditions. – What is the opinion of the NKR government in
reference to the suggestions which provide liberation of the
territories occupied by the Karabakh party in the initial stage? As
it is known, these found their reflection in the report of the
Europarliament reporteur on the South Caucasus Pierre Garton. The
latter set forth the idea of opening the Baku-Nakhijevan-Yerevan
railway for liberation of five regions. – This suggestion may be the
evidence of what was mentioned above, the not so sensible steps of
the representatives of the international organizations which set
forth this or that idea without the knowledge of the essence of the
subject. The concerning fact is that Pierre Garton could express such
an idea without being to Nagorni Karabakh. It is absurd to offer to
return five regions to Azerbaijan and instead open the railway to
Nakhijevan again for Azerbaijan. The question occurs what is in
favour of Nagorni Karabakh? Nothing. Moreover, as a result Nagorni
Karabakh is deprived of the security zone and the possibility of
undergoing bombing by Azerbaijan increases as it happened during the
years of war. The problem of territories is directly connected with
the problem of security of the population. This, as well as the
problem of refugees are essential to the settlement of the conflict
and should not be considered separately from the package solution.
The Karabakh party in the face of the president of the republic has
for a number of times announced about this, and this approach is
well-grounded, because the security of Nagorni Karabakh and the
people living there is concerned. Fortunately, the European
parliament seems to have realized that this suggestion is unreal and
absurd and this formulation has been withdrawn from the report of
Pierre Garton. We may state that sound reason has overwhelmed.
However, it should be noted that even if the idea of the
Europarliamentarian was born with the consideration of achieving
peace in the region, its results were negative. It radicalized public
opinion in Nagorni Karabakh. Several members of our parliament, in
answer to the suggestion of Garton, even proposed passing a
corresponding law and maintaining in it that the mentioned
territories are under the control of NKR and are an important and
indivisible element of the security of our country. Another group of
members of parliament even offered to maintain this principle in the
future constitution of NKR. – Such pro-Azerbaijani suggestions also
radicalize the approach of official Baku, too which, actually,
excludes any compromises and offers and demands starting the
negotiation process from the very beginning. – Yes, the president of
Azerbaijan certainly refused the former arrangements achieved by
Aliev Senior and announced the intention of Azerbaijan to start
negotiations from zero. It should be emphasized that there is no such
understanding as zero in politics. Zero is a popular expression in
casinos whereas here we are concerned with absolutely important
things, the fate of nations (Armenian or Azerbaijani). Suggesting
starting from zero Ilham Aliev actually buried all the positive that
was achieved under his father. Anyway, we would like to know what
Ilham Aliev means when saying zero. Which is the starting point, 1988
when the present stage of the Karabakh national liberation movement
started, 1992 when the OSCE Minsk Group was formed within the
framework of which the conflict settlement is carried out? Or maybe
it is more logical to return to the year 1918 when for the first time
Azerbaijan appeared on the political map, and to which Nagorni
Karabakh did not belong at all. Besides, when announcing about
starting from zero consistency should be kept and not repeat about
the return of territories and refugees all the time. In brief, it is
obvious that the approach of the new Azerbaijani government is absurd
and inconsistent and has no prospects. In my opinion, the reason for
this is that Ilham Aliev does not possess the charisma of his father
and apparently does not have enough power to make inevitable
compromises in the process of conflict settlement. Therefore in the
beginning he set forth an inadmissible and unreal scheme of
negotiations to take his time. – However, the propaganda machine of
Azerbaijan seems not to need to stop awhile. – In fact, the
anti-Armenian propaganda in this country does not stop. Today we may
even speak about hysteria of propaganda which does not favour in any
way the maintenance of an atmosphere of trust between the parties,
which is so very important to the settlement of the conflict. The
murder of the Armenian officer in Budapest by his Azerbaijani
colleague is but the logical result of the anti-Armenian hysteria of
the Azerbaijani authorities. This cruel crime proved once again that
the Azerbaijanis and the Armenians have nothing in common. I do not
state that thinking in Azerbaijan is on the level of the stone age
but that an axe still serves as a means of international
communication and that the security of the officer of the RA armed
forces is not guaranteed even within the framework of such a powerful
organization as NATO reveals the impossibility of protection of
rights of the Armenians of Artsakh within the framework of a common
statehood with Azerbaijan. It is terrible that in this country they
not only attempt at justifying him but even try to render him a
national hero. Whereas as distinct from the Azerbaijani army our
armed forces are aware of what is honour and dignity and therefore
are used to solving problems in open field and not stealthily. In
this reference I would like to mention that the wish of Nagorni
Karabakh to integrate with European organizations is based on the
traditions of many centuries. The evidence to this are the numerous
monuments of the Christian culture, the spirituality of our nation
which thinks and creates in a way close to the European ways and
which has had a great contribution to the European culture. The
people of Karabakh are brought up by the European spirit, the spirit
of world classical creations. It is not a secret that by the level of
democratic development Nagorni Karabakh is ahead of Azerbaijan and
this is not only my opinion. This fact was maintained by a number of
famous international organizations, including the international
federation on human rights, the USA State Department, other
organizations in the USA. The American organization “Freedom House”
characterized Azerbaijan as a non-free state where the basic human
rights are absent and the civil freedoms are regularly violated.
These facts give rise to the logical question: how is it possible to
demand returning Nagorni Karabakh to Azerbaijan, a country where the
form of power is hereditary monarchy, where even the rights and
freedoms of the Azerbaijanis are not protected, where anti-Armenian
ideology is raised up to the level of a state policy and the criminal
murdering of the Armenian officer within the framework of the NATO
program “Partnership for Peace” is declared a national hero?


ASBAREZ Online [03-09-2004]


1) Georgian Leader Due in Armenia on Friday, Unclear whether Javakhk will be
2) Pipeline Construction Still an Issue for Armenians in Region
3) Abashidze Has Support of Ajaria Armenians
4) Senate Adopts Trade Measure without Key Armenia Provision
5) Schwarzenegger Names Deukmejian to Head Prison Reform Panel

1) Georgian Leader Due in Armenia on Friday, Unclear whether Javakhk will be

YEREVAN/PARIS (Armenpress, RFE/RL)–Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili
will arrive in Yerevan on Friday for two-day official visit that will cover a
broad range of bilateral issues.
President Robert Kocharian’s office said Saakashvili will lead a large
Georgian government delegation composed of the ministers of foreign affairs,
energy, and economic development, as well as senior parliamentarians.
The trip will mark Saakashvili’s first-ever face-to-face meeting with
Kocharian. The 36-year-old popular leader, who was elected president in early
January, is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Andranik Markarian,
parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian and Catholicos Karekin II. His itinerary
includes a visit to the Dzidzernagapert genocide memorial in Yerevan.
Economic issues are expected to dominate the talks, with the Armenian side
likely to push for a reduction in disproportionately high transit fees charged
by Georgia on cargo shipments to and from Armenia. Saakashvili publicly
promised to lower them last December; however, his ministers have been more
ambivalent on the subject.
The two sides will also likely discuss the geopolitical situation in the
Caucasus. Saakashvili’s dramatic rise to power as a result of last November’s
`rose revolution’ in Tbilisi could solidify growing US presence in the
region and accelerate the closure of Russian military bases in Georgia.
Tigran Torosian, the deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, said Yerevan
expects the new regime in Tbilisi to maintain a `balanced policy’ on
and Armenia. Torosian also welcomed Saakashvili’s recent calls for the
of a regional single market, but said the realization of the idea is
`unfortunately a long way off.’


It is unclear whether the situation in Javakhk, the impoverished
Armenian-majority region in southern Georgia will be on the agenda.
has vowed greater central government attention to the grave socioeconomic
problems Javakhk Armenians face. He recently appointed Tbilisi’s outgoing
ambassador in Yerevan Nikoloz Nikolozishvili, as governor of greater
Samtskhe-Javakhk province.
Speaking at a press conference in Paris yesterday, Saakashvili, when asked
whether autonomy will be granted to Javakhk, responded by saying, `Our
relationship with Armenia is on a very good level; such statements can not
damage them,’ but emphasized that they could have a negative impact on the
Javakhk Armenians, and added that the issue is not at the top of the agenda
during his upcoming visit to Yerevan
Levon Mkrtchian, a leader of the coalition government’s Armenian
Federation (ARF), stressed, however, that Javakhk will become `a center of
Armenian-Georgian friendship,’ if the Saakashvili administration ensures
protection of the local population’s `economic and cultural rights.’

2) Pipeline Construction Still an Issue for Armenians in Region

AKHALKALAK (A-INFO)–The Armenian population living along the construction
route of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipe-line (Tsalka, Borjomi, and Akhaltskha),
has consistently opposed the project, and continue to voice their objections.
Especially outraged are those living in the Tapatsghur village of the Borjomi
province, who were promised financial payment for lands taken up by the
project, but have not yet been compensated.
In discussing security issues tied to the pipeline, Georgian President
Saakashvili recently announced during a visit to Azerbaijan that the Armenian
population living along the pipeline’s construction route do not oppose the

3) Abashidze Has Support of Ajaria Armenians

(A-INFO)–The leader of the Armenian community of Ajaria Armen Gevorgian, said
that it should not come as a surprise that the Armenians of the autonomous
Georgian republic back its leadership. Gevorgian explained that the allegiance
to President Aslan Abashidze, began in the early 90s when the St. Savior
Armenian church in Batumi and surrounding territory were returned to the
Armenian community because of Abashidze’s efforts.
Abashidze also put forth a special order that would allow the Batumi Armenian
school to remain operational under any circumstance. `Mr. Abashidze promised
that the school would continue operations, even if only one pupil remained,’
said Gevorgian.
He also explained that Armenians in Ajaria are not oppressed. In 1993,
Abashidze signed a special order to protect the rights of national minorities.
`Unlike Armenians in other provinces of Georgia, those in Ajaria have an
opportunity to watch Armenian state TV, and with Abashidze’s support, publish
the `Aghbyur’ Russian-language newspaper,’ said Gevorgian.

4) Senate Adopts Trade Measure without Key Armenia Provision

WASHINGTON, DC (ANCA)–The Armenian National Committee Of America (ANCA)
disappointment over the Senate’s failure to include a key US-Armenia trade
provision in a larger trade bill that cleared the body earlier on Friday.
The provision, adopted by the House last November, would grant Armenia
Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status. Adoption of this measure would
ensure lower tariffs on Armenian imports to the US and give greater Armenian
access to US government credit facilities on a permanent basis.
`We are disappointed that the Senate missed this excellent opportunity to
expand trade between the US and Armenia,’ said ANCA Executive Director Aram
Hamparian. `We are hopeful that, as the trade bill moves through the
legislative process, supporters in both houses will be able to ensure the
inclusion of the Armenia-PNTR provision.’
An Armenia-PNTR resolution, S.1557, was introduced by Senators Mitch
(R-KY), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on August 1, 2003, and
currently has 15 cosponsors. A companion measure, H.R.528, which was
adopted by
the House in November of last year, was introduced by Congressional Armenian
Caucus Co-chairmen Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
In a letter last March to the House Ways and Means Committee, Hamparian noted
that: `In order for Armenia’s economic growth to continue and for its benefits
to reach more people, Armenia needs to increase investment and trade. Armenia
is dedicated to expanding its economic relationship with the United States,
but, without PNTR, Armenia loses its ability to attract viable export markets
in and investment from the United States. At the same time, without PNTR,
American entrepreneurs who see Armenia as an emerging economy with potential
for investment and trade, hesitate to establish ventures that cannot be
protected by WTO rules or to import Armenian goods at higher, non-MFN tariff
The Trade Act of 1974 excluded all Soviet countries from having normal trade
relations (NTR) status with the United States. One provision of the Act, known
as the Jackson-Vanick amendment, required the President to deny NTR to those
countries that restricted free emigration. The policy was adopted, in part, in
response to Communist government restrictions on the repatriation of Jews.
According to the terms of the Jackson-Vanick amendment, when the President
determines that freedom of emigration rights have been reinstated in a
normal trade relations may be granted. To maintain NTR, the President must
report to Congress twice a year that Jackson-Vanick requirements have been
While successive Presidents have waived the Jackson-Vanick Amendment
restrictions on Armenia during the past decade, the passage of the Knollenberg
bill, would grant Armenia permanent NTR (PNTR) status, without the need for
bi-yearly Presidential determinations.
Permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status ensures lower duties on
Armenian imports to the US, creating incentives for increased trade and
investment opportunities between the two countries. As such, the measure
strengthens bilateral relations between the two countries and helps reinforce
the enduring friendship between the American and Armenian peoples. Increased
US-Armenia trade and investment also helps to offset the impact of the Turkish
and Azerbaijani blockades, estimated by the World Bank at up to $720 million a

5) Schwarzenegger Names Deukmejian to Head Prison Reform Panel

SACRAMENTO (AP)–Former Governor George Deukmejian will chair an independent
review panel looking to reform California’s youth and adult correctional
Governor Schwarzenegger says the panel must find ways to turn around a
of confidence” in the state’s prison system.
Critics argue, however, that Deukmejian–who held office from 1983 to
1991–helped build the state’s prison system into the nation’s largest
during a
law-and-order administration.
Schwarzenegger says the panel will examine the corrections system’s “ethics
and culture;” organization and operations; safety practices for inmates,
employees, and the public; and personnel and training programs.
He says the panel will report to him directly as part of his administration’s
larger performance review.

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