Armenian Police Break Up Rally Calling for Kocharyan to Resign

Armenian Police Break Up Rally Calling for Kocharyan to Resign

Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2004.
Moscow Times

YEREVAN, Armenia — Armenian police broke up an opposition rally early
Tuesday in the center of Yerevan called to demand the resignation of
President Robert Kocharyan.

“Overnight, police were forced to dissolve the protest action. Arrests
were made and several people were injured,” police spokesman Sayat
Shirimyan said, without giving details.

Police accused protesters of throwing stones and gasoline bombs. The
opposition, which accuses Kocharyan of rigging his re-election last
year, denied the allegation.

“It’s an absolute lie,” opposition leader Stepan Demirchyan, who
placed second to Kocharyan in last year’s election, told reporters
Tuesday. “People were peaceful, singing, dancing and waiting for
Kocharyan’s resignation.”

Opposition newspaper Aravot said police used tear gas and water
cannons to break up the demonstration, the latest in a series of
protests since last week.

The rallies are the biggest in Armenia since the presidential
election.

After breaking up the rally Tuesday, police raided the offices of
Armenia’s opposition and detained a number of activists, opposition
officials said.

“After the police broke up the rally, many of the participants took
refuge in the party office,” said Iveta Sarksyan, an official of
Demirchyan’s Justice Party. “Police forced their way in and took away
the protesters. They later broke the doors to the party press
office. Now they’re all in the police station.”

Police also broke down the door of the office of a second opposition
party, National Unity, and blocked access to a third, the Republic
Party.

Several thousand protesters on Monday had intended marching down
Bagramyan Prospekt, the capital’s main street, toward the presidential
office. Police blocked them, and several hundred people stayed on to
continue their action overnight.

Kocharyan has accused his political rivals of attempting to repeat
last year’s revolution in neighboring Georgia.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Government Forcibly Breaks Up Opposition Protest

GOVERNMENT FORCIBLY BREAKS UP OPPOSITION PROTEST

April 13, 2004
Eurasianet

Police in Armenia used stun grenades and water cannon to disperse an
opposition protest during the early hours of April 13 in Yerevan. In
addition, authorities closed the offices of two leading opposition
political parties involved in organizing the demonstration, which
President Robert Kocharian said threatened the country’s
“constitutional order.”

Officials did not immediately disclose information concerning the
number of people hurt during the police crackdown. They also released
few details about the number of opposition political activists taken
into custody. Armenian media reports indicated that dozens of people
were severely beaten by truncheon-wielding police, who descended on
about 2,000 opposition supporters camping out on Yerevan’s main road,
Marshal Baghramian Avenue, not far from theArmenian parliament
building. According to one unofficial estimate, 30 people required
hospitalization. One individual was reportedly in serious condition,
while 14 were supposedly treated and released from area hospitals.

The assault began at about 2 am, with columns of police clad in riot
gear moving against demonstrators from at least two directions, in
what observers said was a maneuver designed to trap the
protesters. Eyewitnesses reported that authorities indiscriminately
beat protesters. Many journalists, in particular photographers and
television camera operators, became embroiled in the melee. The
Aykakan Zhamanak newspaper, for example, reported that two of its
correspondents were “badly beaten.”

Authorities insisted that protesters had provoked police. Interior
Minister Sayat Shirinian alleged that the demonstrators had ignored
warnings to disperse peacefully, and later started to move
“menacingly” towards law-enforcement officers, state television
reported. Kocharian justified the police action as necessary to combat
“political extremism.”

One of the protest organizers, Stepan Demirchian, head of the Justice
bloc and a bitter political foe of Kocharian’s, said the police action
constituted a “crime” designed to “terrorize the population.” Artashes
Geghamian — leader of the National Unity Party, and another main
protest organizer – characterized the police action on April 13 as a
“barbaric act,” the Arminfo news agency reported. Geghamian along with
several other prominent opposition figures went into hiding.

Authorities on April 13 shuttered the offices of the National Unity
Party and the Republic Party, both of them vocal critics of
Kocharian’s administration. The offices were ransacked, according to
media reports. Three opposition MPs — Shavarsh Kocharian, Aleksan
Karapetian and Arshak Sadoian, were taken into custody. According to
some reports, Kocharian (no relation to the president) was later
released.

Foreign governments refrained from making any immediate comment on the
violence. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is scheduled to
arrive inYerevan next week, and German embassy official gave no
indication that the trip might be postponed. The Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe sought to stake out neutral ground,
indicating that both sides had engaged in action in recent days that
contributed to the violence.

The April 13 police action was the culmination of four days of
opposition protests organized with the specific aim of forcing
Kocharian’s resignation. [For additional information see the Eurasia
Insight archive]. Demirchian, Geghamian and other opposition say
Kocharian’s administration is illegitimate, alleging that he rigged
2003 presidential and parliamentary elections. [For background see the
Eurasia Insight archive].

On April 12, a protest march involving between 10,000-15,000
opposition supporters marched through central Yerevan in a largely
peaceful manner. Security forces ultimately blocked the protesters
from approaching Kocharianâ=80=99s executive offices, located on
Marshal Baghramian Avenue, and roughly 2,000 protestors decided to
camp out in central Yerevan overnight. That set the stage for the
pre-dawn violence.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

ANKARA: Armenian Opposition Want “Velvet Revolution” too

Armenian Opposition Want “Velvet Revolution” too

Zaman
04.13.2004 Tuesday

Opponents of Armenian President Robert Kocharyan hope to emulate their
Georgian neighbors by spawning a ‘velvet revolution’ of their
own. Protestors camped outside the presidential palace in Yerevan on
Monday, calling for the resignation of Kocharyan.

The Justice Bloc and the National United Party protesters maintain
that the current ruling power came to office via illegal means;
therefore, they argue, a vote of confidence in a referendum is
required.

Aram Sargisyan, one of the opposition leaders, stood in front of
barriers placed outside the presidential palace and addressed a crowd
of over 20,000 people. “They could step over these barriers; however,
they will not do it because they do not want blood to be spilt.”

Sargisyan added that all roads to the Palace were under opposition
control and that there was nowhere for Kocharyan to go. “The process
has already started and we will not step back. We will wait until they
leave.”

Moreover, Savarsh Kocharyan, one of the opposition parliamentarians,
defended that tens of thousands of people would participate in the
protests.

Viktor Dalakyan, an official of the Justice Bloc and leader of the
protests, claimed that the demonstrations would “end the
administration of the Karabakh group.”

The opposition is calling on its powerful partners the Republican
Party, Orinats Yerkir and Dasnaksutyan to join in the
demonstrations. The coalition parties refrained form participating in
the parliamentary session on Monday, so as not to add to the political
tension.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s Office claims “the separatist
representatives of the opposition are preparing for terrorist action.”

The Russian press writes, “A change in leadership, with U.S. support,
might take place in Armenia in the next few days.”

Some newspapers report that people from rural areas are showing their
solidarity with masses in the streets of Yerevan.

Political observers, likening what is happening in Armenia to last
autumn’s ‘velvet revolution’ in Georgia, indicate that the “Soros Open
Society Fund”is among the largest supporters of the opposition.

04.13.2004 aa, Cihan News Agency Tbilisi, Moscow

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Armenian police raid opposition parties offices

Armenian police raid opposition parties offices
(Recasts, updates with police closing parties’ headquarters)

By Hasmik Lazarian
13 Apr 2004 14:25:16 GMT

YEREVAN, April 13 (Reuters) – Police raided the offices of Armenia’s
opposition on Tuesday after ending a week of protests which activists
had hoped would turn into a Georgia-style “rose revolution” against
President Robert Kocharyan.

Police finally moved against a rally in the centre of Yerevan on
Monday night, accusing protesters of throwing stones and petrol
bombs. The opposition, which accuses Kocharyan of rigging his
re-election last year, denied the allegation.

“It’s an absolute lie,” opposition leader Stepan Demirchyan, second to
Kocharyan in last year’s poll, told reporters. “People were peaceful
— singing, dancing and waiting for Kocharyan’s resignation.”

Police said they had made arrests and several people had been hurt.
Opposition newspaper Aravot said they had used tear gas and water
cannons to break up the demonstration, the latest in a series of
protests launched last week. The rallies were the biggest in the
ex-Soviet state since the presidential election.

“After the police broke up the rally, many of the participants took
refuge in the party office,” said Iveta Sarksyan, an official of
Demirchyan’s Justice Party.

“Police forced their way in and took away the protesters. They later
broke the doors to the party press office. Now they’re all in the
police station.”

Police also broke down the door of the office of a second opposition
party, National Unity and blocked access to a third, the Republic
Party.

A poor landlocked state of 3.8 million people, Armenia is key to
unravelling the deadlock over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of
Azerbaijan taken over by its mainly Armenian population in 1988. Some
35,000 died in six years of fighting.

A ceasefire ended the violence in 1994, but the unresolved dispute
between Armenia oil-rich Azerbaijan has added risk to Western energy
firms’ investments in the region.

CONFIDENCE VOTE

Protesters on Monday had intended marching down the capital’s main
thoroughfare towards the presidential office.

Opposition activists demand Kocharyan’s resignation and had pledged
protests throughout this week. They also want to change a law on
referendums to hold a confidence vote in Kocharyan.

Kocharyan has accused his rivals of trying to stage a repeat of last
year’s “rose revolution” in neighbouring Georgia.

Last November, protesters rebelled against veteran Georgian President
Eduard Shevardnadze, accusing him of rigging a parliamentary
election. In less than two weeks the campaign, supported by the West,
toppled Shevardnadze.

Kocharyan had run Nagorno-Karabakh and became Armenian president in
1998 on a wave of personal popularity.

But he has made little progress in solving the conflict. Nor have the
lives of impoverished Armenians improved.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Police Statement Justifies Use of Force Against Protesters

Armenian police statement justifies use of force against protesters

Public Television of Armenia, Yerevan
13 Apr 04

Presenter Our correspondent is now at the main police station to tell
us via the phone about a statement issued by the police information
and press department on the events which took place last night.

Correspondent over telephone A spokesman for the Armenian police,
Sayat Shirimyan, read out the statement which said:

An unsanctioned rally which was organized by the leaders of the
Justice bloc and National Unity Party on Freedom Square on 12 April
resulted in disturbances following aggressive calls. At 1900 1400 gmt
the protesters flooded into Bagramyan Avenue and stopped traffic.

The police repeatedly told the protesters to stop their illegal
actions or face the consequences. They continued with their illegal
actions and broke the law. Despite the police warnings, the protesters
acted against the police and threw Molotov cocktails and stones at
them. Their actions were becoming more and more aggressive and
uncontrollable, endangering the policemen’s lives and health.

Taking into consideration the dangerous developments and illegal
actions and the fact that the protesters refused to obey the police,
the latter had to resort to force and take special measures against
the protesters in keeping with the law on the Armenian police.

Some police officers were injured and some were hospitalized. Some
protesters were detained and taken to police stations, for example MP
Shavarsh Kocharyan who brought a rifle with him to the rally. The
organizers and many participants escaped.

An investigation has been launched. The identities of those detained
are being established. The Armenian police said that the operational
situation in the capital is under control. Everything necessary is
being done to liquidate the consequences of the disturbances, to
identify the organizers and participants and to bring them to book.

Armenian journalist “brutally” beaten up during rally dispersal

Armenian journalist “brutally” beaten up during rally dispersal

Mediamax news agency
13 Apr 04

YEREVAN

Gayk Gevorkyan, correspondent of Haykakan Zhamanak Armenian Times
newspaper, was brutally beaten up by police during the dispersal of an
opposition rally last night.

Arminfo news agency has learnt from the editorial office of the paper
that Hayk Gevorkyan was taken to the medical centre Nork and that his
life is not in danger. There was an unexpected power cut on Bagramyan
Avenue at about 0030 2030 gmt local time last night. Barbed wire was
removed and water cannons moved forward from behind the
special-purpose police detachments at the scene that evening.

Passage omitted: known details about the use of water

The law-enforcement agencies detained the most active protesters,
including deputies of the Armenian parliament Shavarsh Kocharyan and
Aleksan Karapetyan; members of the political board of the Anrapetutyun
Republic Party, Artak Zeynalyan and Vagarshak Arutyunyan; and the
press secretary of the People’s Party, Ruzanna Khachatryan.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Deputy Speaker Says Room Remains for Dialogue with Opposition

Armenian deputy speaker says room remains for dialogue with opposition

Mediamax news agency
13 Apr 04

YEREVAN

Armenian Deputy Speaker Vahan Ovanesyan said today that there is still
room for dialogue with opposition leaders.

According to Mediamax news agency, Ovanesyan told journalists today
that yesterday’s events, particularly the dispersal of the opposition
rally in central Yerevan, were the consequence of the fact that “the
opposition has overestimated its own capabilities and made maximalist
demands”.

Ovanesyan recalled that representatives of the ruling coalition,
particularly the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutyun, had
recently kept suggesting to the opposition that they begin dialogue.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Energy Empire

BC-Energy Empire, Adv21,0965 Adv21
For release Wednesday, April 21

After military retreat, Russia flexes economic muscles in
neighboring countries

Eds: Also moved on general news wires.
AP Photos NY355-356 of April 12

By STEVE GUTTERMAN
Associated Press Writer
TBILISI, Georgia (AP) – Several miles from the stately palace
where the czar’s envoy once governed Georgia sits a nondescript
office building in a grimy industrial district.
Drab it may be, but for some Georgians it symbolizes new Russian
power in their country, a land that spent nearly two centuries
under Moscow’s rule before becoming independent with the 1991
Soviet collapse.
The building is the headquarters of Telasi, a Russian-owned
company that provides this city of 1.3 million people with
electricity – a precious commodity in a country where blackouts are
a part of daily life.
It’s just one of the tendrils of Russian economic influence that
reach across Georgia and the rest of the former Soviet Union.
Using pipelines and power lines instead of tanks and troops,
President Vladimir Putin’s Russia is seeking to strengthen
influence over former Soviet republics at a time when the United
States and European Union are extending their presence eastward to
places that until recently were Moscow’s domain.
That change is highlighted by the entry of the three formerly
Soviet Baltic states into NATO and the European Union.
“Russia did not want, does not want and never will want to lose
its influence in the post-Soviet space,” said Ramaz Sakvarelidze,
a political analyst in Georgia, where Moscow has pledged to close
two military bases left from the Soviet era.
“And now that its economy has not only gotten on its feet but
is able to act outside its borders, Russia is replacing its
military levers of influence with economic structures.”
Telasi is a case in point, he said.
Russia’s huge state-controlled electricity monopoly, Unified
Energy Systems, bought a controlling stake in the Tbilisi utility
last year from the U.S. power company AES.
Georgian politicians protested the deal would give Russia a
powerful political lever over their Caucasus Mountain country.
Russia already controlled nearly all natural gas supplies to
Georgia, where steam heating delivered to entire city neighborhoods
is only a memory and many people rely on gas-fired heaters to warm
homes in winter.
Georgia hopes a U.S.-supported natural gas pipeline from the
Caspian Sea to Turkey will ease its dependence on Russia, but it’s
not expected to be built before 2006.
UES chief Anatoly Chubais flew to Georgia last August and sought
to reassure authorities over the Telasi purchase, saying the
company had no political goals and Georgia’s electricity supplies
would be secure.
But critics questioned the company’s motives for buying a
utility whose chances of making a profit are diminished by decrepit
equipment, corruption, poverty and what U.S. Ambassador Richard
Miles called “an innate dislike on the part of Georgians to pay
for energy.”
Miles said the American company decided to sell because it
couldn’t afford “the hemorrhaging of money.” But he said the
issue of why UES bought Telasi was “a good question.”
UES is clearly trying to expand its presence in former Soviet
republics, a campaign that Miles said could be motivated in part by
the simple desire to grow and by the hope of future profits. “What
other political motives there might be, I don’t know. You’d have to
ask Mr. Putin and Mr. Chubais about that,” he said.
Yevgeny Volk, head of the Moscow office of the Heritage
Foundation, said there is no secret to UES’s activities abroad.
“It’s practically part of the state apparatus, and naturally
the policy it pursues is state policy – and that is to strengthen
Russia’s position in the zone traditionally considered its sphere
of interest,” he said.
UES, which exports power to countries from Norway to China, says
its foreign business is coordinated with the government and
conducted in the interests of its shareholders, the largest of
which is the state. It says company experts even advise the Foreign
Ministry on policy.
Volk said UES and other Russian companies with close ties to the
government are trying to acquire property in former Soviet
republics “and then use that property as a political lever to
influence the situation in those countries to Russia’s benefit.”
Sakvarelidze and other analysts said that will allow Moscow to
influence personnel and policy decisions in those countries,
shaping their future in line with its own interests.
In February, Russia’s state-connected Gazprom briefly halted
natural gas supplies to Belarus during a dispute over Russian
efforts to gain control of Belarusian industrial enterprises,
including the pipeline company that relays Russian gas to Europe.
In December, the Russian state-owned oil pipeline monopoly,
Transneft, stopped deliveries to the Baltic Sea port of Ventspils,
Latvia. Latvian officials said Moscow was arm-twisting as part of
an effort to buy the Latvian government’s stake in the company that
loads oil onto ships bound for the West.
Also last year, Armenia ceded control over its only nuclear
power plant to UES in a bid to escape debts to Russian energy
suppliers.
Volk said Russia’s activity is a reaction to increasing U.S. and
European influence in the region.
“There’s no question of returning these countries to Russia or
to some sort of Soviet Union. Everyone understands that’s
impossible politically,” he said. “But to bind them more closely
to Russia and provide Russia with advantages in this economic space
… this is a completely realistic policy.”

APTV 04-12-04 2109EDT

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

ANKARA: Aliyev restates position on Karabakh ahead of Turkish visit

Azeri president restates position on Karabakh ahead of Turkish visit

Hurriyet, Istanbul
9 Apr 04

Azerbaijan will never accept Nagornyy Karabakh becoming an independent
Armenian entity, President Ilham Aliyev has told Turkish newspaper
Hurriyet ahead of his official visit to Ankara. He restated his
position that if Armenia withdrew from five of the seven occupied
Azerbaijani districts, Baku would be ready to reopen the border and
railway through Armenia and begin negotiations. Aliyev said that it
would be a blow to Azerbaijani-Turkish relations if Turkey were to
open its border with Armenia. He said that his father, late President
Heydar Aliyev, had been suffering a great deal from “this disease”
towards the end, but did not name the illness. The following is the
text of Ertugrul Ozkok’s interview with Aliyev in Hurriyet (Ankara
edition) on 9 April headlined “Let them withdraw from five districts,
then let us open the border crossing immediately”; subheadings as
published by Hurriyet:

Azerbaijani flag used to fly at Black Sea

I became aware of the first change when I landed at Baku airport. The
name of the airport has clearly changed to Heydar Aliyev airport. But
this was not the only change. This time, there is a change in Baku in
the atmosphere towards Turkey. With whomever I talked, they asked me,
“Will Turkey open the border with Armenia?”

One day before I came here, close to 20 Azerbaijani reporters came to
Turkey via Naxcivan. There, they were campaigning for “the border with
Armenia not to be opened”. Some opposition newspapers even wanted the
Turkish ambassador to be deported if the border was opened.

In the evening, we were at the Izmir Restaurant in Izmir
Park. Singers, each with voices more beautiful than the other, came
onto the stage. A female singer, who came onto the stage at the end of
the programme, suddenly started to sing the song, “It will fly at the
Black Sea”. The hall suddenly started to sway. The Azerbaijani female
singer started to sway with a Turkish flag in one hand and an
Azerbaijani flag in the other. She changed the final refrain of the
song as follows: “We will hang the Azerbaijani flag in Nagornyy
Karabakh.” So it was in this atmosphere that we talked with President
Ilham Aliyev.

Probably the reason why he talked with Guneri Civaoglu from the
Milliyet newspaper and me prior to his visit to Turkey was to convey
to Turkey this sensitivity in Baku.

[Ozkok] The death of President Heydar Aliyev was a great loss for
Azerbaijan and Turkey and for the entire Turkish world.

[Aliyev] It was a very great loss for us. It was a great
disaster. Towards the end, he was suffering a lot from this
disease. But still, it is impossible to be reconciled with his loss.

[Ozkok] When did you see the president last?

[Aliyev] I saw him in September [2003].

[Ozkok] You had talked in the United States.

[Aliyev] Yes, I was the prime minister here and had gone to visit
him. There were elections here 20 days later. As soon as I returned, I
started the election campaign. I had planned to go and visit him once
again after the elections. I was going to go on the 16th, but he
passed away on the 12th.

Our growth rate has reached 11 per cent

[Ozkok] During this visit, I found that Baku has changed. There are a
large number of construction sites. How is the economy going?

[Aliyev] The economy is going well. Our growth rate has reached 11 per
cent. Azerbaijan came from the communist system, but today, the
dominance of the private sector in the economy has reached 74 per
cent. This shows that a market economy has become established.

[Ozkok] Are you pleased with the progress of the oil pipeline system?

[Aliyev] The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is being successfully
built. That is also the work of Heydar Aliyev. I am pleased with the
progress of the pipelines.

[Ozkok] I wonder if the incidents in Georgia will affect the petroleum
flow system?

[Aliyev] No, they will not affect it.

[Ozkok] Could there be a search [for a new pipeline route] via one
place or another or through Iran?

[Aliyev] It could be possible in the future, but this is not an issue
for today or tomorrow. Perhaps there will be so much petroleum in
Azerbaijan that it will be necessary to build a new oil pipeline.

There is an Armenian lobby, not an environmental lobby

[Ozkok] Have those who opposed the project stopped talking?

[Aliyev] Those who are opposed to the Baku-Ceyhan project have not
given up these policies. In the first stage, the countries that did
not want the project were openly opposing it. Now, however, the
tactics have changed. Nongovernmental organizations, which are under
the influence of the Armenian lobby and have hidden under the name of
environmentalists, are making obstacles for the project.

[Ozkok] What do you think about the developments in the Caucasus?
There were three strong leaders in the Caucasus after the
disintegration of the Soviet Union: Suleyman Demirel in Turkey, Heydar
Aliyev in Azerbaijan and Eduard Shevardnadze in Georgia. Thanks to
them, this critical period was overcome without a problem. But now
there are three inexperienced leaders in the three countries. Could a
problem emerge?

[Aliyev] Unfortunately, there is instability in our region. Our region
has suffered a lot. Today as well, the Caucasus is such a sensitive
region that even the smallest wrong step could bring major
disasters. You said it correctly. There were very strong leaders in
this region. Their togetherness, friendship and personal relations
played a very important role. These leaders are not here any more. I
hope that we, the young leaders, will keep our traditions alive.

It should not be Nagornyy Karabakh after Cyprus

[Ozkok] Mr President, recently we have frequently heard the following
theory. The Cyprus problem is being solved. After that, it will be
the turn for the Palestine – Israel and Nagornyy Karabakh problems and
that the pressure on you will increase. Do you agree with this?

[Aliyev] I do not see a parallel on this subject. There have always
been pressures on Azerbaijan. But it is not justified behaviour to
apply pressure to us, because we are not the source of the
problem. Armenia occupied our lands. Nagornyy Karabakh and seven of
our districts around it are still under occupation. As the result of
this occupation, 40,000 Azerbaijanis were forced to emigrate from
Nagornyy Karabakh and 700,000 Azerbaijanis were forced to emigrate
from the seven districts surrounding it.

[Ozkok] Are there other emigrants?

[Aliyev] Of course, 250,000 Azeris living in Armenia were also forced
to emigrate. There are also 20-50,000 Akhaltsikhe Turks who emigrated
from Uzbekistan. That is, today Azerbaijan shelters more than one
million emigrants.

[Ozkok] All right, will this problem ever be solved?

[Aliyev] The great nations, the OSCE and the Minsk Group, which are
taking an interest in this problem, should approach it from the aspect
of international legal standards. The territorial integrity of
Azerbaijan should be ensured once again.

[Ozkok] All right, what would happen to the Armenians in Nagornyy
Karabakh? They are also talking about the principle of determining
their own future.

[Aliyev] Now they have the independent state of Armenia. But if you
are talking about the principle of determining their own rights
everywhere the Armenians live, then could Armenia attempt to determine
these rights everywhere the Armenians live, such as in France, in
Georgia and in the United States?

[Ozkok] If you were to make a call to Armenia from here, what would
you propose in very clear terms to solve the problem?

[Aliyev] Let me express it very clearly. One: we will never accept a
fait accompli. Those lands will never be a part of Armenia. An
independent Armenian republic will not be established there.

[Ozkok] This is a very rigid and irreconcilable attitude, is it not?
Would it not be necessary to be somewhat more conciliatory, at least
to start negotiations?

[Aliyev] We also have a conciliatory proposal.

[Ozkok] What is it?

[Aliyev] We are saying that at the first stage, let them withdraw from
five of the seven districts that they have occupied, then we would
immediately start the negotiations. We would immediately open the
railway and the border crossings. Economic relations would start. Then
it would also be possible to open the border crossing between Turkey
and Armenia.

Let us give highest autonomy to Nagornyy Karabakh

[Ozkok] What would happen to the Armenians in Nagornyy Karabakh? Do
they not have a different situation?

[Aliyev] Our proposal on this subject is as follows: we are prepared
to give the Armenians in Nagornyy Karabakh the highest status other
than independence.

[Ozkok] What sort of status?

[Aliyev] For example, there are national minorities in various places
in the world. There are autonomous administrations. Whatever is the
highest level and most advanced form of autonomy, we are prepared to
give it.

You cannot give up national cause because of pressure

[Ozkok] Mr President, recently the Azerbaijani public has been
sensitive about the opening of the border crossing between Turkey and
Armenia. The Azerbaijanis are reacting strongly because Turkey is
preparing to open this border crossing. Why is this?

[Aliyev] This is an internal matter for Turkey. No official
information has come from Turkey to date. Consequently, it would also
not be appropriate for me to say anything on this subject.

[Ozkok] What would be your reaction if Turkey were to open this border
crossing?

[Aliyev] Of course, it would strike a blow to Turkish-Azerbaijani
relations. President Heydar Aliyev said the following repeatedly: We
are one nation and two states. For that reason, I do not think that it
is likely that such a thing will happen. Furthermore, the Armenians do
not have claims related only to our territories. They also have claims
related to Turkey. It is good to have economic relations, but there is
also history. It is also necessary to take history into account. If
such a thing were done, then it would also create profound sadness in
the Azerbaijani people.

[Ozkok] But Turkey is preparing to enter the EU and it is also
important to open this border crossing. Turkey is also taking steps on
the Cyprus issue.

[Aliyev] We know that there are pressures on Turkey. We also sincerely
want Turkey to enter the EU. But Turkey is a great state. The fact
that there is pressure does not mean giving up a national cause. The
EU negotiations have not yet started. If these negotiations start,
then how much time will it take, one year or five years?

Armenians in Baku are wives of Azerbaijani men

[Ozkok] Do you not have direct contacts with the Armenian president at
all?

[Aliyev] We talked once.

[Ozkok] For example, did he congratulate you after you became
president?

[Aliyev] No.

[Ozkok] Did he send you a message of condolence after the death of
Heydar Aliyev?

[Aliyev] Yes, he sent a telegram.

[Ozkok] The population of Armenia is also decreasing. People are going
away, escaping from there.

[Aliyev] But the Armenian lobby still remains. We should not consider
the Armenians only as a country. Their diaspora is very strong.

[Ozkok] Are there no more Armenians in Azerbaijan?

[Aliyev] There are more than 20,000 Armenians in Baku. Basically, they
are the wives of Azerbaijani men.

[Ozkok] All right. Are there Azerbaijani women who are married to
Armenian men?

[Aliyev] There are very few. There were very rare cases in the past.

We have no Islamic movement

[Ozkok] Is there an Islamic movement in Azerbaijan? Is it strong?

[Aliyev] No. We do not have this problem in Azerbaijan. Our society is
very tolerant.

[Ozkok] What is the size of the Christian population here?

[Aliyev] The Christian population here is around 5, 6 or 7 per cent of
the total population.

[Ozkok] Are there also Jews?

[Aliyev] There could be around 100,000 Jews.

[Ozkok] More Jews than there are in Turkey.

[Aliyev] There were always many Jews here, both now and in the Soviet
period. They live here comfortably.

[Ozkok] Are the Russians who remained here happy with their lives?

[Aliyev] I think that they are happy. If they were unhappy, then they
would leave. Our relations with them are very positive.

OSCE representative goes to Armenian parliament

OSCE representative goes to Armenian parliament

Noyan Tapan news agency
12 Apr 04

YEREVAN

The head of the OSCE office in Armenia, Vladimir Pryakhin, arrived in
the building of the Armenian National Assembly at 1725 [1225 gmt] on
12 April. In remarks to journalists about the purpose of his visit, he
said that he was here to discuss the internal political situation and
steps which are being taken with Armenian Speaker Artur Bagdasaryan.

He said that he also plans to discuss the adoption of the law on
rallies, meetings and marches.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress