Saying Farewell To The City

Saying Farewell To The City

The Hindu
April 19, 2004

WITH THE departure of Michael Stephanian, or Stephen, if you wish, the
Armenian Church in George Town will be without an Armenian caretaker
for the first time since it was consecrated in 1772. A local caretaker,
Alexander, succeeds Michael who goes to Calcutta on a significant
promotion after seven years in Madras where he had succeeded that
legend, George Gregorian, who put in 33 years in making the church
the cleanest place in the city.

Michael moves to Calcutta to take charge of the Armenian College
(school) there, one of the leading educational institutions in the
city when it was home to a few thousand Armenians, almost all of whom
have migrated to Australia or parts westwards since the 1970s. The few
hundred Armenians left in Calcutta keep service going in the city’s
three churches of the Armenian Orthodoxy and the one in Chandernagar,
service being held in each by turn on Sundays. These numbers, have,
however, not been enough to sustain the school, which in its heyday –
and when the Armenian Club was as lively – produced some of the best
rugby teams in India.

There has, in the last few years, been an attempt to revive the school
by bringing in from strife-riven Armenia and Iran, Armenian children
who have lost at least one parent. To the dozen or so Armenians with
Indian connections there have now been added about 100 boys and 40
girls from Armenia and Iraq. Michael hopes that, in the next year or
so, he can get that strength up to 300, with about 50 more children
from Armenia and 100 from war-torn Iraq where over 25,000 Armenians
live. These children in the 6-16 age group will be trained to take
the ICSE exam, but their workload will always be increased by three
subjects: the Armenian language, history and faith.

Michael, while in Madras, has done a splendid job in keeping the
Armenian Church alive by organising the occasional service in it. He
has also ensured that the Armenian Cemetery on the Island and the
Armenian tombs and other relics in and around the city have been cared
for. He may not have always been successful in preserving the symbols
of Armenian heritage in the city, but he was always trying. I’m sure
he’ll be trying even harder to bring the Armenian College back to
its old glory. This column wishes him all the best.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

ANKARA: Gul: We’ve made efforts to resolve the NK issue

April 20 2004


Commenting on recent rumors that the border between Turkey and
Armenia would be opened, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said yesterday
that Ankara first wanted Azerbaijan and Armenia to reach a settlement
on the upper Karabakh issue and was making efforts towards this end.
Stressing that the border would not be opened until the issue was
resolved, Gul said, `We are continuing our contacts with the
governments in both Baku and Yerevan.’ Urging all observers to take
lessons from a possible Cyprus settlement, Gul stated that Turkey
didn’t want the upper Karabakh issue to remain unresolved,
explaining, `There is an occupation there.’ The foreign minister also
added that during Istanbul’s NATO summit this June, a tripartite
meeting could be held to discuss the issue. /Turkiye/

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

E.U. funds more refugee centres on new eastern frontier

E.U. funds more refugee centres on new eastern frontier

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
April 20, 2004, Tuesday

Warsaw — The European Union will spend 17 million euros on six
new centres for refugees along Poland’s eastern border, destined
to be the E.U.’s new eastern frontier after May 1, PAP news agency
reported Tuesday.

Poland currently has 12 refugee centres able to host 2,500 people,
mostly near the western border with Germany.

The new centres will be built over the next two years in the eastern
Polish border cities of Przemysl, Biala Podlaska, Bialystok, and
Ketrzyn. Four of the centres will be closed, detention compounds
designed to hold illegal migrants.

Some Polish politicians worry Poland’s May 1 E.U. entry will draw
waves of asylum seekers to its eastern border.

But immigration officials point out Poland is still a transit rather
than a target country for migrants, with most heading for Germany,
France and Belgium.

In 2003, almost 7,000 people applied for refugee status in Poland,
twice as many as five years ago. Some 219 people were declared refugees
and granted the right to reside in Poland.

Chechens, Afghans, Indians, Palestinians, Armenians and Ukrainians
were the most numerous applicants. dpa sib pb sc

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Former head of Russian border force in Armenia put on trial

Former head of Russian border force in Armenia put on trial
By Tigran Liloyan

April 20, 2004

YEREVAN, April 20 — Former commander of the Russian border force
in Armenia Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Aboimov has faced a military
court in Armenia. He is charged with the abuse of office through
misappropriation of 3.5 million rubles.

Criminal proceedings were instituted on August 20 following an
inspection. A similar case was opened against Aboimov’s deputy for
the rear, Col. Vasily Filonov. Investigators say they transferred
funds of a non-existent construction project to the account of the
Simeron Enterprises Company based in Armenia.

The trial in the fifth garrison court of the Russian North Caucasian
military district is closed.

Aboimov headed the Russian border force in Armenia from March 2001
to July 2003. He is a holder of the Order of the Red Star, medals
and awards of Armenia and Afghanistan.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Question of Guantanamo Causes Diplomatic Stampede in Geneva

Adelante Cuba, Cuba
April 20 2004

Question of Guantanamo Causes Diplomatic Stampede in Geneva

Geneva, Apr 20 (Prensa Latina) A simple question about the human
rights resolution concerning the US Naval Base in Guantanamo, that
illegally occupies Cuban territory, produced a stampede of diplomats,
or in some cases, simple evasion.

Cuban radio and television reporters, together with Prensa Latina
correspondent, sought the viewpoint of UN Human Rights Commission
delegates on the proposed resolution presented by Cuba, concerning
the arbitrary detention of prisoners at the US military base, since
the question is scheduled for discussion tomorrow, Wednesday.

Hours earlier, ambassadors from Syria, Palestine, China, Zimbabwe and
Iran, as well as numerous NGOs made their position known by the
resounding applause given Cuba´s denunciation of human rights
violations at the base.

Positions of other delegates were more difficult to obtain,
demonstrating their little acceptance of freedom of the press.

The European Union group (Holland, Czech Republic) indicated they
would follow the criteria of the EU, although without indicating what
that would be. Australia and Rumania likewise said they would vote as
instructed, but evidently do not yet know their instructions.

Ireland, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, France, Sweden, Armenia,
Croatia and Costa Rica left the Palace of Nations in record time,
none deigning to express an opinion.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

AAA: Administration Announces Support for Key US-Armenia Trade Bill

Armenian Assembly of America
122 C Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-393-3434
Fax: 202-638-4904
Email: [email protected]
April 20, 2004
CONTACT: Christine Kojoian
E-mail: [email protected]

State Department Official Delivers News at Pan-Armenian, Non-Partisan

Washington, DC – The drive to extend trade benefits to Armenia gained a
major boost yesterday as the Bush Administration publicly announced its
strong support for a pending bill that would deepen the U.S.-Armenia trade
relationship during a national Armenian-American conference organized by the
Armenian Assembly of America.

Ambassador Elizabeth Jones, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of European
and Eurasian Affairs addressed her remarks to Armenian-American activists
participating in a three-day conference sponsored by the Armenian Assembly,
the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and the Eastern and Western
Diocese of the Armenian Church.

“We want Armenia to benefit from WTO membership and to do that we are
working toward permanent normal trade relations [PNTR] with Armenia, which
we will try to push through Congress,” Ambassador Jones said.

The keynote luncheon speaker that same day, Senate Majority Whip Mitch
McConnell (R-KY), and ardent supporter of closer U.S.-Armenia relations
said, “I hope we are able to move this legislation in the near future.”

Senator McConnell, together with Senator Sarbanes (D-MD) and Senator Barbara
Boxer (D-CA), last summer introduced S.1557, which would authorize the
extension of PNTR to Armenia.

Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) who gave the keynote address at the National
Conference that evening said: “This is of course good news for all of us,
but now we must continue to press the Administration and the relevant
committees in Congress to expedite action on this important issue. We need
to carry through on this proposal.”

The bill, which has a counterpart in the House already passed as an
amendment to a larger tax bill, calls for the termination of the
Jackson-Vanik Amendment with respect to Armenia. If enacted, it would
remove the nearly 30-year-old provision requiring Armenia to periodically
obtain presidential approval for continued access to low tariffs.

“The argument we make is that the purpose of Jackson-Vanik was to encourage
religious freedom and free immigration,” Ambassador Jones said. “Obviously
there is no issue with Armenian compliance with that.”

The bill’s passage would also herald other benefits, such as strengthening
bilateral relations and allowing Armenia to fully avail itself of its
membership in the WTO. Increased U.S.-Armenia trade and investment will
also help offset the damaging impact of Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s decade-old

“One of the Assembly’s highest legislative priorities this year was to ask
Congress to extend PNTR to Armenia and we thank Ambassador Jones and the
Bush Administration for this long sought for news,” said Executive Director
Ross Vartian. He added that “the Administration’s choice of venue for this
announcement underscores the significant impact the National Conference has
had on U.S. policymakers.”

“Given the overwhelming bi-partisan and bi-cameral support of this bill, and
now the public call from the Administration for passage, we look forward to
Congress acting expeditiously and send this bill to the President,”
continued Vartian.

The three-day Conference was an opportunity for the Assembly, AGBU and
Eastern and Western Diocese of the Armenian Church and their respective
constituencies to speak for the first time with a collective, non-partisan
voice on issues of concern before the Administration and Congress.

The AGBU is the world’s largest non-profit, philanthropic organization
devoted to education, cultural and humanitarian programs. Headquartered in
New York, the organization has a budget of $28 million and serves some
400,000 Armenians annually.

The Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern) is the spiritual and
administrative head of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the Eastern U.S.
Together with the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, it exists under
the authority of the ancient Mother See of the worldwide Armenian Church,
Holy Etchmiadzin, in Armenia.

The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide
organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian
issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.


Photographs available on the Assembly’s Web site at the following link:

Caption: Ambassador Elizabeth Jones speaking at the Armenian Assembly’s
National Conference and Banquet in Washington DC on April 19.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

BAKU: Azerbaijan FM calls for dialogue over war on Karabakh

Azerbaijan foreign minister calls for dialogue over war on Karabakh

Azad Azarbaycan TV, Baku
19 Apr 04

[Presenter Namiq Aliyev] Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar
Mammadyarov has said that the Prague meeting [with Armenian Foreign
Minister Vardan Oskanyan] was of a fact-finding character. In an
exclusive interview with Azad Azarbaycan TV, Mr Mammadyarov spoke
about the importance of meetings of this kind for a peaceful
settlement of the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict.

[Correspondent, over archive footage of Prague] The main result of the
Prague meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers
is that the sides have agreed to continue the talks, Mammadyarov
said. The minister said that at the meeting the US president’s Caspian
envoy, Steven Mann, received a mandate [as OSCE Minsk Group
co-chairman] from his predecessor, Rudolf Perina. Mammadyarov said
that Mr Mann made a good impression. No specific proposals were
discussed at the meeting, he added.

[Mammadyarov] No, there are no new proposals for the time being. We
finished our fact-finding meeting.

[Correspondent] We should note that Armenian President Robert
Kocharyan said before the talks that Nagornyy Karabakh will never be
part of Azerbaijan and that its security will be guaranteed only in
two cases, either through Nagornyy Karabakh’s operation as an
independent state or its annexation to Armenia. But Mammadyarov said
that the Azerbaijani government stood firm on the issue.

[Mammadyarov] Every meeting certainly brings more hope. You are aware
of Azerbaijan’s position. We stand firm on this.

[Correspondent] Mammadyarov commented on bellicose statements from
both sides. The Azerbaijani government is going to solve the problem
peacefully and is confident that this is the most suitable way,
Mammadyarov said. He said priority will be given not to the military
option but dialogue.

[Mammadyarov] It is too early to speak about peace or war. For the
time being 20 per cent of the Azerbaijani lands are under
occupation. The point is what option should be used to liberate these

[Correspondent] Mammadyarov also said that the date of the foreign
ministers’ next meeting had not been specified in Prague. He said the
sides will decide on the issue depending on the situation.

Rasad Huseynov, Emil Aliyarli, “Son Xabar”.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

BAKU: Daily warns of attempts to incite ethnic discord in Azerbaijan

Daily warns of attempts to incite ethnic discord in Azerbaijan

Zerkalo, Baku
20 Apr 04

Azerbaijani newspaper Zerkalo has reported that some forces might
attempt to incite ethnic discord in the country. The Russian special
services are planning to use the ethnic minorities in the north of
Azerbaijan as a destabilizing factor, the newspaper
reported. Conflicts on religious grounds cannot be ruled out either,
Zerkalo said. It warned of a possible attack by Wahabbi militants from
Dagestan and said that Iran’s policy was to blame for the upsurge in
Islamic organizations in Azerbaijan. The following is an excerpt from
A. Rasidoglu report by Azerbaijani newspaper Zerkalo on 20 April
headlined “Are Iran and Russia sowing ethnic discord in Azerbaijan?”
and subheaded “Certain forces benefit from drawing parallels between
‘Armenian separatism’ and ‘ethnic minorities'”; subheadings inserted

The movement For Azerbaijan (it’s noteworthy that two groups claim to
have this name) has held a round table attended by the so-called
representatives of ethnic minorities in Azerbaijan. An obscure
criterion was used, for instance, to define that the editor of Axsam
newspaper, Valid Qardasli, was a “representative of the Talis people”,
this was how he was introduced at the round table. As is known,
neither he nor other “representatives” of ethnic minorities were
entitled to speak on behalf of these people. Well, there are other
more interesting issues.

Russian intelligence to inflame ethnic discord in Azerbaijan

For instance, what prompted Russia’s justice Gen Ilqar Qasimov to
(suddenly) hold a round table on the subject “Ethnic minorities in
Azerbaijan and the Nagornyy Karabakh problem”? Is someone, as
previously, “cannot afford to relax” or is trying to play the ethnic
card purposefully drawing parallels between “Armenian separatism” and
the so-called “problem” of ethnic minorities in Azerbaijan? We know
how easy it is to incite an ethnic conflict.

There is another interesting coincidence. Round tables of this kind
coincided with information circulated in a few mass media that the
Russian special services have started to actively operate to fan the
flames of ethnic discord in our country. Are these coincidences
incidental or planned? Are there not too many of them?

According to sources, the Russian special services are currently
looking into the implementation of “work” among Kurds, Talises,
Lezgins and Avars.

[Passage omitted: more details of Russian plans]

As we have learnt, new cultural centres of ethnic minorities will be
set up and these bodies will publish their own newspapers in the near
future. As a result of these centres’ “activities”, problems might
gradually arise among the ethnic minorities living in Azerbaijan,
which will give them a cue that they have a common enemy – an
Azerbaijani Turk.

According to the sources, at the first stage they will count on a
social basis of Russian ideologists in Quba-Qusar Districts [northern
Azerbaijan] with a mainly Lezgin population, as the Russian special
services report. Moreover, there are reports that the Kurdish Workers’
Party, which also seems to have major claims to the Azerbaijani state,
has intensified its work in a northern [Azerbaijani] district.

It goes without saying that what is going on is far from being
children’s war games.

Conflicts on religious grounds not ruled out

There is another aspect of the issue. Conflicts on religious grounds
are not ruled out either. According to some reports, a militant
Wahhabi group is currently in Dagestan, in a district bordering on
Azerbaijan, and is waiting for the right time.

The Azerbaijani coast of the Caspian Sea is rather a large area
populated also by non-Turks. It is early to make conclusions about the
role of Islam in the movement of these ethnic groups. However, one
should not disregard this, especially as the Russian special services
have long been viewing them as the “fifth column”, or to put it
simply, a destabilizing factor.

Iran’s policy to blame

Finally, here is the last remark. The main factor responsible for the
development of the leading Islamic organizations in Azerbaijan is
precisely the policy pursued by Iran. Our biggest neighbour opposes
the western oil export route and Azerbaijan’s entrance into the sphere
of the West’s interests.

One should bear in mind that Azerbaijan is a multi-ethnic
country. This fact has always been in the focus of the foreign and
internal forces interested in the escalation of tension in our

Tbilisi: Renegade Georgian general accuses DM of “smear campaign”

Renegade Georgian general accuses defence minister of “smear campaign”

Imedi TV, Tbilisi
20 Apr 04

[Presenter] Defence Minister Gela Bezhuashvili has made another
comment about the statement of the former commander of the 25th
Brigade [Roman Dumbadze who said that he took orders only from the
Ajarian leader].

Bezhuashvili has described Dumbadze as a traitor of Georgia. Dumbadze
has not confirmed the reports about a defence ministry being
established in Ajaria. He has blamed Gela Bezhuashvili for organizing
a campaign against him.

[Bezhuashvili, speaking to journalists] We should punish traitors of
Motherland with the full severity of the law.

Now, what is this about? As I said today, how can a man betray this
aspiration for the sake of selfish interest? How can he betray these
young boys, 17-18-year-old children who today spoke about the
country’s strength, the country’ future, the country’s present? This
is what it is all about. These are the values upon which our society
rests. I think that society should condemn all incidents of this kind.

[Dumbadze, interviewed] This is a total lie. Absolutely. I have not
heard such a thing in 14 years. Gela Bezhuashvili is the seventh
minister, but I have not heard such a thing from anyone, even from the
former president I have not heard such a thing. Absolutely.

I will never be a traitor. A traitor is someone who betrays his
origin, his nation. The defence minister himself is such a man. He
changed his surname and betrayed his nation. He was an ethnic

[Journalist] Are you speaking about Bezhuashvili?

[Dumbadze] Yes, I am speaking about Bezhuashvili.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Bishop Galstanian urges Canadian Parliamentarians to vote for M-380

Armenian Holy Apostolic Church Canadian Diocese
Contact; Deacon Hagop Arslanian, Assistant to the Primate
615 Stuart Avenue, Outremont Quebec H2V 3H2
Tel; 514-276-9479, Fax; 514-276-9960
Email; [email protected] Website;

Bishop Galstanian urges Canadian Parliamentarians to vote for M-380

On Tuesday April 20 2004, the Primate of the Armenian Holy Apostolic
Church Canadian Diocese addressed a letter to the members of the House
of Commons of Canada urging them to vote in favor of M-380 Armenian

Upon the directive of His Eminence Bishop Bagrat Galstanian the
Diocesan faithful contacted Members of Parliament in their areas to
urge them to vote for M-380.

During telephone conversations with Ministers and Parliamentarians,
Bishop Galstanian expressed gratitude and thanks for their attention
and urged them to vote for the Armenian Genocide resolution. Serpazan
told the MP’s “If the Canadian parliament recognizes the Genocide of
April 24, 1915 the Armenian community in Canada will warmly welcome
and deeply appreciate the wisdom and courageous act of the Government
of Canada, which will be a clear expression of Canada’s strong
commitment to human rights and justice”.

The copy of His Eminence Bishop Bagrat Galstanian’s letter is attached

615 Stuart Avenue, Outremont, Quebec, Canada H2V 3H2
Tel: (514) 276-9479 Fax: (514) 276-9960
Email: [email protected] Web:

House of Commons

Honorable members of the Canadian Parliament,

As the Primate and the spiritual leader of the Armenian Church of
Canada, I have the unique privilege and the pleasure to extend sincere
salutations to all distinguished members of the Canadian House of
Commons, and to express on behalf of all Canadian Armenians our
heartfelt appreciation of your resolve to debate in the Canadian
Parliament openly and objectively the recognition of the historical
fact of the Armenian Genocide.

Three generations after that fateful event, the Genocide remains a
deeply imbedded wound in the Armenian psyche. The wound has not
healed, because this injustice of unprecedented magnitude has not been
recognized and acknowledged by the perpetrator and by the
international community as a crime against mankind and a violation of
a fundamental standard of humanity.

Moreover, in a cruel campaign of denial, the perpetrator continues the
genocide by killing the memory of the victims. Indeed, as genocide
scholar Professor Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University states, “denial
is the final stage of genocide, because it strives to reshape history
in order to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators.”

There are no two sides of this story. Hundreds of news accounts
published in the international media during the First World War,
numerous eye witness accounts of foreign missions and survivors –
including our parents and grandparents, thousands of state archives
around the world, scores of declarations by esteemed historians have
repeatedly established beyond a shred of a doubt, that a
state-sponsored, premeditated, meticulously planned and brutally
executed scheme of ethnic cleansing was carried out in 1915 through
1923 by the Ottoman Turkish government over its Armenian citizens
living on their ancestral homeland, who aspired only the dignity of
living like a human being. The 1915 genocide of the Armenians was the
culmination of 600 years of oppression and a diabolic attempt for a
final solution by the Ottoman authorities to the European insistence
of introducing reforms that would guarantee the most basic human
rights of minorities in Ottoman Turkey.

Dear parliamentarians,

You do not have to look far for an evidence of the Armenian
Genocide. Look at the galleries of this House, full of representatives
of the Canadian Armenian community. There are hundreds of similar
communities dispersed around the world, from the far-east to the far
west, members of the Armenian Diaspora that was created as a result of
the Genocide. The throbbing pain they have inherited from their
tormented parents and grandparents, yearns for recognition of the
truth and for justice.

France and Switzerland were the latest of more than 15 states, who
courageously defied threats and blackmail, and sided with the truth
and justice.

Honorable members of the House of Commons,

Show to the world once more that Canada upholds international ethics,
believes in human and social rights and strives for consolidation of
peace based on justice. Vote for the recognition of the Armenian
Genocide. God bless you all.


Bishop Bagrat Galstanian Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church
of Canada


From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress