Public Meeting Held on 28th March, 2004 London — GB


The website of the Armenian Community of the United Kingdom

The Following Report was delivered verbally by Mr Ara Palamoudian, Chairman
of the Armenian Community & Church Council–GB :

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT – 28th March, 2004

Your grace Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian – President of the Armenian
Community& Church Council, fellow members of the Armenian Community of
the United Kingdom.

May I first of all on behalf of the Council of the Community thank you
all for coming here today and thus showing your interest in the
matters of your Community. A Community which would be considered a
small one if compared with the many other ethnic groups in this

In the early fifties, when I first came to England, the Armenian
Community numbered perhaps not more than a thousand, it could easily
have been described as a “religious group” since the only activity
then was to congregate around its church.

As our community gradually grew larger and larger and in fact also
more and more diverse in character since there was an influx of
Armenians from a variety of Countries and cultures, the community
naturally evolved from merely a religious group into a thriving and
multi-faceted Community with of course its growing religious needs but
now also with its most important secular – social, educational and
political – needs that are so essential for the survival ofa racial
community in a European Country where the dangers and pressures of
assimilation and losing ones ethnic identity are so immense and so
attractive to the new generation.

Over the last forty years your Community’s constitution has also
evolved together with the Community’s needs and character, until today
the Community and Church Council not only has responsibility for the
maintenance of the Community’s Apostolic Church, but also attends to
the numerous other needs and interests which give this Community its
most important Ethnic Identity – without which we would be just a
religious group and likened to a sect rather than a proud and
self-respecting Ethnic Community of British Armenians.

Your Community’s Council, of which I have the honour to be the
Chairman in its current term of office is elected by democratic public
ballot every four years and comprises 15 members.

The other members of the Council are:

Zorig Gasparian – Vice Chairman
Zepur Kiledjian – Secretary
Hovnan Hampartsoumian – Financial Controller
Souren Saroukhanoff – Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Council
Arshalous Babayan
Karineh Grigorian
Haig Gulvanessian
Vicken Haladjian
Antranik Jojaghaian
Charle Malas
Matilda Megerdichian
Stepan Tatulian
Rostom Krikorian
Ara Yeghiazarian

In accordance with the Community’s current constitution any Armenian
who satisfies certain simple requirements such as age, residence etc
is entitled to be elected to the Council and any Armenian over 18, who
is registered as a member of the Community, is entitled to vote.

The current council was elected to office in December 2002 and
therefore has about three years left to serve.

The Community’s structure of Organisation is as follows:

With regard to the Church – We are extremely privileged to have as our
Primate, Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian, who has been our primate for just
overtwo years. Previous to coming toEngland Bishop Nathan was Primate
of the Ukraine where he was personally responsible in the
establishment of a Diocesan Structure and for his work there, he was
awarded the Ukrainian National Medal of Honour by the Ukrainian
Government. So we are very privileged indeed in having him as our
Primate and of course the Community’s Churches are under his direction
– naturally under the jurisdiction of His Holiness, the Catholicos of
All Armenians of Etchmiadzin.

Whilst the Churches’ Ecclesiastic matters are attended to by the
Primate, the physical administration of the Community’s Church falls
within the responsibilities of the Council, and as such, on behalf of
the Community weare responsible for the Stipends and salaries of our
clergymen, and all other secular matters of the Church.

The Council appoints its EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE which in turn appoints
and assumes responsibility for the proper functioning of its various
sub-committees which comprise:
– The Church Committee
– The Ladies Committee
– Youth and Cultural Committee
– Membership and Electoral Register Committee etc .

The total number of persons serving in all the various Committees
which comprise the Community Council’s Structure of Organisation is in
excess of 53 men and women, who give up their time freely and happily
to serve their Community.

I should like to extend my thanks to every single one of them – too
many to name here – , on behalf of the Community and of the Council
for all they are doing for their Community. The names of all the
Members of the various Committees are listed in our website –

In a few minutes I shall be asking Souren Saroukhanoff, Chairman of
the Executive, to give you a report on the activities of the Executive
and of their various sub committees.

In addition to the Executive and its sub-committees, the Council also
has direct responsibility for the appointment of the Trustees of the
Community’s K.Tahta Armenian Sunday School, and in this connection, I
should like to express the Council’s appreciation to the Headmistress
of the school, Mrs. Anahid Kazarians for her devoted service for the
last 20 years or so, which has contributed to its success, with about
250 students. The Council of course makes an annual financial
contribution to the school and also covers any deficit it may have.
The Chairman of the School Trustees, Doctor Tarverdi will be giving us
a report also, this afternoon.

We are directly responsible for the appointment of the Executive
Committee of Campaign for the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide
(CRAG) which over the past many years has incessantly taken on the
task of campaigning in any way possible to further the national cause
of recognition of the Genocide. CRAG as it is popularly know had for
the last ten years or so, been under the most able Chairmanship of Dr
Rostom Stepanian who has retired only recently and the Chairmanship
has now in the care his Deputy, Mr. Raffi Sarkissian. Mr Sarkissian
will of be speaking to us today also, to give us a report on CRAG’s
activities. In connection with CRAG and its activities, over the
manyyears, there have been numerous dedicated ladies and gentlemen who
have given so much of their time and energy for this most important
national cause, but I would like to mention some names who I know do
not expect thanks, but I feel I must extend our appreciation to
dedicated persons such as Mr Bagrad Nazarian who until recently and
for over ten years has worked with great devotion and energy for CRAG
and all it stands for. Appreciation also goes to – among many others
– Ara Sarafian, Hratch Koundarjian, Andrew Kevorkian, Armine
Gasparian, Shiraz Vartanian, Raffi Sarkissian and of course its
current Executive Director, Mr Harry Hagopian.

CRAG carries out a most essential function in keeping alive the
interests of the Armenian nation and the continual struggle for the
recognition of the awful and unforgivable Genocide perpetrated against
our nation. It operates as an autonomous unit and because of the
nature of its activities, it does incur certain expenses. The
Community Council has for many years made an annual allocation of
about £4000 to it and since the total expenses of CRAG are far greater
than that, we are most grateful to those persons who recognise its
value and well knowing the nature of its expenditure, have contributed
to its funds so that CRAG can continue with its mission.


The larger portion of Community activities are undertaken by our
Executive Committee and its Sub-Committees so Mr Saroukhanoff will be
including thosein his report .

The Council, for the first time as a Community Function, this year
celebrated the 12th Anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of
Armenia. The function was held here to a full house and in the
presence of the Armenian Ambassador as well as the British Ambassador
to Armenia, Miss Abbott-Watt (whose name you may have heard, or read
about in the last few weeks related to a most unfortunate and
inappropriate statement she made recently.)

For those who may not have heard, – – during an interview with a
reporter in Armenia, Miss Abbott-Watt – the British Ambassador –
remarked that the atrocities perpetrated upon the Armenians did not
qualify to be described as GENOCIDE as specified by the 1948 United
Nation Convention, and went on to say =3D “but I do not think
recognising it as genocide would be of much use”I .

Such a statement coming from a British Ambassador was most
inappropriate and especially since it was stated during an interview
in Armenia, her statement created an immense and robust reaction from
Armenian Communities throughout world, some even going as far as to
demand that she be declared a persona-non-grata in Armenia.

Our Council gave this matter its most serious consideration and as
British Armenians, we have decided to write to our Prime Minister, Mr
Tony Blair, complaining against the inappropriate statement made by
the Ambassador, which not only could be considered insulting and
hurtful to the dignity and memories of the Armenian Nation but also by
denying a historical fact in the face of overwhelming evidence, it
represented a denial of the human rights of British Armenians whose
parents or greatparents were the very ones who had been subjected to
that Genocide

We shall, of course also urge the Prime Minister that the time has now
come that our Government should put aside economic or political
considerations and should join other World Power countries such as
France, Switzerland, Greece, together with many others, including the
European Parliament, and declare that the atrocities committed upon
the Armenian peoples in Ottoman Turkey qualify to be designated as
GENOCIDE, and must be condemned as GENOCIDE.

The letter will be delivered and published within the next few days.

Administrative Visit by His Holiness:

In November, last year, we were honoured by the visit of His Holiness
Catholicos Karekin II with whom the Council had extended discussions
on various matters with regard to this Community and in particular
with regard to his wish that all the Armenian Apostolic Churches in
the UK should agree to unite under one Diocesan Structure – albeit as
a loose federation – with each Church still functioning autonomously
under the terms of their relevant Constitutions or Trust Deeds. For
this purpose His Holiness suggested some changes could be considered
to the Community’s Constitution.

We have of course agreed to undertake that responsibility and shall be
holding appropriate meetings and consultations with a view to making
appropriate amendments to the Constitution so as to meet the wishes of
His Holiness, always respecting of course the principles fundamental
to the democratic functioning of the Armenian Community of Great

I must add here that all three Churches – Manchester, St Sarkis and
the Community’s Church functioning from this Church, the St Yeghiche,
are on excellent terms with each other and co-exist in harmony. I
therefore do not foresee any impediment to acceeding to the wishes of
His Holiness.


I am also very happy to report that your Community Council enjoys an
excellent relationaship with the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia.
We feel it is our national duty to support the Embassy in any way
possible within our scope and ability and the Council makes an annual
contribution on behalf of the Community towards the funds of the

We are doing, and shall continue to do all we can to establish closer
ties between Armenia and the British Armenia Community and shall
encourage the furthering of ties, be they Cultural, Social, Sports or
any other. We shall also encourage the establishment of business
relations between British and Armenian Companies.

I should like to express my especial thanks and appreciation to
Ambassador Gabrielyan for his keen, cooperative and helpful attitude
which has createda fresh and friendly atmosphere between the Community
Council and the Embassy, which is greatly appreciated.


We have followed with deep concern the developments at the Centre for
Armenian Information and Advice and noted the continued disagreements
and disputes between the various Trustees. As the Council considered
the Centre to beof great benefit to the Community, we made attempts at
mediation between the two main differing groups, once in June 2003 and
once more very recently – in December/January of this year.
Unfortunately in both instances we were unable to secure the
acceptance of all parties concerned for our intervention with a view
to brokering some agreement whereby a properly assembled General
Meeting could be held and a new, legally and universally accepted
Board of Directors/Trustees could be elected.

I was informed a few days ago that the Charity Commissioners have
taken the step of appointing a group of five Trustees and removing all
the other Trustees from office, thus creating a situation whereby the
appointed five Trustees will be able to proceed to govern the centre
and hold a General Meeting without much delay. The Council has never
at any time shown bias to any group of Trustees, nor to any individual
Trustee. Our concern was simply for the future of the Centre and a
wish for peaceful co-existance by its members.

We wish the appointees every success in the responsibilities they have
undertaken and the Council will be happy to extend any assistance that
it is able to, if requested.

The Community’s Church:

For the avoidance of any misunderstandings or misconceptions that
might exist within the Community, I should now like to give some
details with regard to our Community’s Church. That is to say, the St
Yeghiche Church.

No doubt you are all aware that since the mid-1970’s, this church
previously named St Peters, together with the adjacent Church Hall and
offices building, was leased to the Council for use as our Community’s
Church. Whereas the Church was on a peppercorn rent of I think £10
per annum, the adjacent building which the Council was obliged to
lease together with the Church was at Market Value and although
initially the rent was an affordable figure of some few thousand
pounds, the rent demanded by the landlords – the Church of England-
for renewal of the lease in around 1995 was in excess of £35,000 per
annum. There was no way such a sum could be raised by the Council
every year and therefore they were forced to decide to give up the
Church. Furthermore, the church building was in need of extensive
renovation and the Council had no funds to meet these expenses.

At this juncture, Mr Vatche Manoukian offered to purchase the freehold
of the Church with the declared intention of renovating it and
returning it for the use of the Community. As you can see, this
benefactor has indeed renovated the Church and having re-consecrated
it the St Yeghiche Church, Mr Manoukian has graciously made the Church
available for use by the Community for its Ecclesiastic needs, free of
any charges. The Manoukian Foundation undertakes all the physical
expenses of the Church building including heating, lighting, cleaning

Mr Manoukian has no wish to become involved with the functioning of
the administration of the Community’s Church and the management of our
church is our responsibility. The Council appoints the Community’s
clergymen and is responsible for all the matters to do with the Church
such as payment of salaries to our clergy, etc etc. and for that
purpose, our Executive Committee appointsa “Church Committee” which
attends to the day to day matters.

We are most grateful to Mr Manoukian for his generosity in allowing us
to use the Church building.

With regard to the Community Council offices, we are also grateful to
Mr. Manoukian for the offer he has made of advancing £200,000 towards
the purchase of offices.

Mr. Manoukian has also informed us that he has applied for planning
consent to build an annexe to the Church on the space on its left hand
side which would comprise cloakrooms and extensive lobby area where
refreshments could be served.

Future and Finances:

Future plans and Finances are very closely inter-related and I should
like to talk about them jointly.

We have distributed by post the accounts of the Community for 17
months ending 2003. You will note that we have again had to draw from
very precious reserves to a very large extent.

Up to about three years ago the Community’s “Reserves” were NIL and
therefore a large portion of the expenditures incurred would not have
been possible.

We were extremely lucky about three to four years ago that the Council
received some legacies and donations as follows:

a) From the Will of Miss K Baronian : A bedsitter flat in Wimbledon
which produces a rental income of £6000 per annum.

b) From the Will of Miss Sonia Keshishian : The sum £137,305

c) From the Beneficiary of the Will of Mrs Mania Baker: A donation of

Hence the Community was fortunate enough to have acquired some capital
to fall back on.

However, as we said in our report last year, we must repeat with even
greater emphasis that unless our annual income is significantly
increased, this Community can be considered “Bankrupt”.

We do not have unlimited capital resources to draw upon, and the
Community must realize that if they wish to enjoy all the Community
facilities that they knowingly or un-knowingly enjoy currently, then
the Community’s funds must break even every year.

In fact that is not at all difficult to achieve. The figures are as

We send out Levy demands every year to approximately 3000 addresses.
Assuming an average of 2 adults per address, we should be receiving
levy payments from 6000 persons.

At £20 per person, that amounts to £120,000 per annum which not only
would amply pay all the Community’s expenses, but would also provide a
tidy sum to be put aside for Capital reserve.

In fact, as you can see from the accounts, instead of £120,000 income,
we actually receive about £20,000 which means that out of about 6000
Armenians, only 1000 actually pay their community levy. This is a
shameful situation and I appeal to all members of our Community to
realize their national responsibility and to contribute their annual
dues. The amount asked forper year, per person, represents the value
of less than five packets of cigarettes.

Unless our Community realizes its responsibilities and decides to come
forward with some positive action, I regret in the course of the next
year or two the capital fund will have receded to ZERO and it will not
be possible to administer this Community and Church in the way we have
become accustomed.

The old custom of one or two wealthy benefactors underwriting the
Community have long gone and it should not be expected of such

This Community comprises an immense number of comfortably off
families. The potential benefactors know this fact and one would not
blame them at all when they show reluctance to contribute. It should
be insulting to the dignity of each member of this Community to allow
such a situation to develop, and I personally am not prepared to
approach any person with a begging-bowl just because the Community is
not realizing its responsibilities.

I appeal to every Armenian to please send in your levy payment without

I would even venture to suggest that if the family total is too much
to pay in one go, the Treasurer of our Executive will I am certain, be
happy to hold one or two post-dated cheques so that effectively
payment of the full amount is made in one or two instalments.

At the beginning of our term just over a year ago we had “plans” for
the future – – – plans for a Community Centre for Social, Cultural and
Sport facilities – plans for a School building to accommodate our
Sunday School as well as provide facility to offer accommodation to
the Saturday School ( Both schools have been served notice to vacate
within the coming two years as the schoolis being closed down and both
schools have nowhere to go! ) – Plans for an Old Peoples Home etc etc

We even established a special Committee with the sole responsibility
of going out and finding suitable premises.

They did find suitable properties – all with a price tag of one to two
million pounds. We have no such funds and it has become patently
clear to us that this Community which does not even bother to pay its
annual levy of 20 pounds, cannot raise one or two million.

Very regretfully, all those plans have had to become “aspirations” or
“hopes” since the financial future of our Community under the present
circumstances is extremely bleak and pitiable.

I suggest to those who neglect to pay that when they ask the all so
easily uttered question ” What is the Council doing about such and
such”, then one ought to ask oneself, even if it is a matter of
writing to the Prime Minister — “Have I contributed towards even the
postage stamp of that letter??”

At Church : “what have I contributed towards the salaries of the
clergy, and payments to the choir, the servers etc”

When Commemorating for example the Armenian Independence Day: “where
is the money coming from to pay all the expenses”

When you receive a mailshot – 3000 addresses – postage, printing –
each envelope costs a at least 30 pence including postage. Ask : ”
What have I contributed towards all these” “How is it being paid for?”
“What right have I to expect anything from my Community”.

Nothing comes free…


I have great pleasure in announcing that for the first time since his
enthronement, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians,
shall be making an official Pontifical Visit to our Community in June
of this year.

The planned dates are the 15th, 16th and 17th of June.

Naturally the Community together with the other Churches will organize
appropriate functions about which notices will be distributed in due
course. (Please bear in mind a Dinner Reception is planned for the
night of June the 17th. )

News Letter and Website.

Before I close I should also like to inform you that we are currently
considering the publication of a Community Newsletter – probably
monthly – which will contain comprehensive information about our
Community in England and we are of the hope that it will be
informative and helpful to everyone.

I would also like to inform you that the Community Council has
established an Internet Website which is functioning now and where
readers will find a large variety of information. There are separate
sections allocated for Community News, International Armenian News,
Church Mews, messages and announcements including the Church Calendar,
Embassy News and Announcements, Numerous Links to various other
Armenian websites and a very useful “Events Diary” where all events
and functions happening in the United Kingdom are listed. This isan
excellent reference source both for the Community as well as the
various organisations who would like to plan their activities.

Over the past months that it has been operative, visits to the site
have gradually increased and we were very happy indeed to note that in
February,the site recorded a total of over 1000 visits.

We are planning to enlarge the website in due course. We will be very
happy to receive any advice and any news items or articles that you
may wish to e-mail in.

UNDP, Emergency Mgmt Agency Launch Report on Reducing Disaster Risk

United Nations Development Programme Country Office in Armenia
14, Karl Liebknecht Street, Yerevan 375010, Armenia
Contact: Aramazd Ghalamkaryan
Tel: (374 1) 56 60 73
Fax: (374 1) 54 38 11
E-mail: [email protected]

1 April, 2004


Yerevan, Armenia

Today the Emergency Management Agency of Armenia (EMA) and the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) presented a major global report
`Reducing Disaster Risk, A Challenge for Development’ to the general
public. Mr. Aram Tananyan, Deputy Chief of EMA and Ms. Lise Grande, UN
Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative presided over
the event. Mr. Tananyan also appealed to the donor community to
support the Governmnet’s efforts to mitigate the recent floods that
occurred in a number of regions.

The `Reducing Disaster Risk, A Challenge for Development’ was prepared
by UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery and presented
worldwide. The Report examines three major types of natural disasters:
earthquakes, tropical cyclones and floods. According to the Report,
billions of people in more than 100 countries are periodically exposed
to at least one earthquake, tropical cyclone, flood or drought. As a
result of natural disasters, more than 184 deaths per day are recorded
throughout the world.

The Report also shows that the achievement of the Millennium
Development Goals are endangered in many of the countries exposed to
natural disasters because they destruct infrastructure and cause
financial, social, economic and environmental shocks.

According to Ms. Grande: `The Report shows that Armenia ranks second
in the world in terms of exposure to earthquakes. This is an important
fact – it means that Armenians are more exposed to earthquakes than
almost anyone else in the entire world. The recognition of this should
lead us to strengthen and accelerate our efforts to help Armenia be
better prepared to confront natural and man-made disasters.’

Mr. Tananyan noted that the Governmenmt of Armenia is in the process
of calculating the damage caused by the recent floods and storms. He
expressed his grateful acknowledgement of UNDP’s efforts made so far
in the area of disaster management, and presented an appeal to the
donor community for assistance.

Country background: Despite its relatively small territory, Armenia’s
landscape is diverse. Armenia also has different climatic zones and is
vulnerable to a number of potential natural including earthquakes,
floods, landslides and hailstorms. In addition, Armenia is also
exposed to a number of potential technological or man-made disasters
as a result of the nuclear power plant, which is located in a
seismically active zone, and chemical and hazardous production


UNDP is the UN’s global development network. It advocates for change
and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help
people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries,
working with them on their own solutions to global and national
development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on
the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners.

For further information, please contact Mr. Aramazd Ghalamkaryan, UNDP
Armenia at [email protected].

Georgia to host cross-border media conference

International Journalist’s Network
March 31 2004

Georgia to host cross-border media conference

Mar 31, 2004

Local and international media assistance groups have until April 7 to
apply for a conference on fostering independent media in the South
Caucasus region.

The Eurasia Foundation’s South Caucasus Cooperation Program (SCCP) is
organizing the conference, scheduled for April 13 and 14 in Tbilisi,
Georgia. Participation is limited.

The conference, `Cross-Border Independent Media as a
Confidence-Building Tool,’ will focus on five areas of regional
cooperation: cross-border content and programming; education and
training for media professionals; media laws; media monitoring and
evaluation; and the protection of journalists’ rights.

The expected participants include, among others: the Association of
Investigative Journalists of Armenia, the Association of Women
Journalists of Azerbaijan, the Black Sea Press Association of
Georgia, the Baku Press Club, Armenia’s Committee for the Protection
of Free Speech, representatives from the Council of Europe,
Internews, and the Media Diversity Institute.

The Eurasia Foundation launched the SCCP for better cooperation among
the major organizations in the Caucasus region. The program’s
contributions include support for independent media initiatives.

Saakashvili and Abashidze: 5 reasons behind Georgia-Adjaria conflict

Pravda, Russia / RIA Novosti
March 31 2004

Saakashvili and Abashidze: 5 reasons behind Georgia-Adzharia conflict

Georgia’s central government lost control over many of its
constituent areas after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The
autonomies of South Ossetia and Abkhazia proclaimed independence.
Adzharia is about to follow the suit. Separatist sentiments are also
strong in the areas inhabited by Mingrels, Svans and Kistins. Experts
say the country is close to splitting into ethnic zones, i.e. Georgia
can again shrink down to the size of the medieval period in its

With the advent of President Mikhail Saakashvili and the new
government, Georgia began making moves to restore its territorial
integrity, i.e. to ensure Tbilisi’s sovereignty over Abkhazia, South
Ossetia and to consolidate sovereignty over Adzharia. The Georgian
president stepped up these efforts after visiting the United States
in February 2004.

Mr. Saakashvili secured the USA’s support for his efforts to regain
control over the entire country and have the Russian military bases
withdrawn from Georgia. This April, Pentagon experts are expected to
start training Georgian brigades, which will, apparently, be deployed
in the rebellious regions and near the Russian bases and

Reports saying that Georgia’s troops are ready to enter Adzharia
testify to this line of the new authorities. Adzharian leader Aslan
Abashidze says Tbilisi has “conspired a military action to punish
Adzharia as it punished Abkhazia and Ossetia.” Adzharia had been the
quietest of all Georgia’s autonomies. It is home to Adzharians, an
ethnic group of Georgian origin. However, unlike Georgians, who are
Orthodox Christians, modern Adzharians are Islam believers. These
ethnic groups also differ somewhat in their household traditions.

In 6th – 4th centuries BC, Adzharia was part of the western Georgian
kingdom of Colchis, which is known from a Greek myth about Agronauts.
>From the late 10th century, Adzharia was part of a united Georgia
(Sakartvelo). In the mid 15th century, it belonged to the powerful
Abashidze clan.

In the 1570s, Adzharia fell under the Ottoman Empire’s jurisdiction.
In 1878, Adzharia was handed over to the Russian Empire in line with
a decision adopted at the Berlin Congress after the Russian-Turkish
war. After the collapse of the empire, Adzharia became an autonomous
republic within Georgia. (Mamed Abashidze, the current Adzharian
leader’s grandfather, was the speaker of Adzharia’s first ever
parliament from 1918 to 1921). The 1921 Kars Treaty signed by Russia,
Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia defined Adzharia as an
autonomous republic.

Living standards in Adzharia have always been much better than
anywhere else in Georgia. Modern Adzharia is a developed industrial
republic. There is an oil refinery, a ship-building, machine-building
and electromechanical plants, clothing factories, tobacco, tea and
fruit processing facilities in the republic.

Adzharia is a junction of important sea, railway, motor and air
routes of Georgia, which link the country to the rest of the world.

The Batumi sea port has been a municipal company belonging to
Adzharia since 1997. The port is equipped to process wet goods,
general and dry cargoes, and containers. In 2003, some 7 million tons
of oil were shipped in the Batumi port. Oil products make up about
70% of Batumi’s overall cargo turnover.

The railway ferry service, which opened in the port in 1998, is of
vital importance for Georgia, as well for all the Black Sea
countries, economically and politically. The ferry’s capacity is 4
million tons of cargoes a year. The ferry service, for example,
reduces the time of cargo deliveries from Hong Kong to Rotterdam by
16-17 days.

Adzharia has been a semi-independent republic since 1991, when the
then Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s supporters made an
attempt on Mr. Abashidze’s life. The Adzharian leader was injured.
However, all armed groups deployed on Adzharian territory, which were
opposed to Mr. Abashidze, were disarmed after the assassination
attempt. The Georgian national guard’s attempt to invade Adzharia was
also thwarted. Georgian tanks were stopped on the border. Adzharia
was, thereby, untouched by the civil war.

Mr. Abashidze maintained rather friendly relations with the next
Georgian leader, Eduard Shevardnadze. Mr. Abashidze was the leader of
the pro-Shevardnadze “Revival” political party.

Mr. Saakashvili came to power in Georgia after the overturn of
President Shevardnadze. He won the presidential election promoting
the idea of nationalising all major industrial facilities and
strategically important industries. The new president also insisted
on regaining control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Adzharia
reacted by announcing the state of emergency and closing the borders,
the moves that could again put Georgia on the brink of civil war.

There are 18,000 troops in Georgia today. There are 10 combat
aircraft, 8 helicopters (6 US-made and 2 Turkish copters), 7 patrol
vessels, 120 armoured vehicles and 100 artillery guns in use.
Georgia’s M-day force is about 100,000 men.

Adzharia has a 2,000-strong police force (including 300 mounted
police), 8,000 militiamen (local militiamen usually armed with
hunting guns and old rifles). There is also a Russian military base.
Locals, many of who hold Russian citizenship, make up 80% of the base

Mr. Abashidze once said that Russia simply must protect Adzharia.
“There is the Kars Treaty, which obliges Turkey to protect the
Adzharian autonomy. There is also an earlier Moscow treaty,
stipulating similar obligations for Russia,” said Mr. Abashidze.

Under the Kars Treaty, Turkey and Russia can send troops to Adzharia
and Nakhichevan (Azerbaijan’s enclave on Armenian territory) in the
event of third countries’ military invasion of these regions. Unal
Cevikoz, Turkey’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, also recalled the treaty
on March 17, 2004. Mr. Cevikoz said the treaty continued to be in

Experts believe Georgia’s sending troops to Adzharia may trigger a
prolonged armed and political conflict, which will also involve
Turkey, Russia and, possibly, the USA.

Experts suggest the following reasons behind the conflict between the
central government and Adzharia.

First, seeking to regain territorial integrity, Georgia does not
recognise the Adzharian government.

Second, Georgia is set to have the Russian bases pulled out from its
territory (from Batumi and Akhalkalaki) and Russian peacekeepers from
Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Tbilisi believes tensions will help it
achieve this objective.

Three, Tbilisi believes Adzharia has grown too independent
economically and politically. The republic, for example, refused to
pay taxes to the central budget, pleading Georgia’s indebtedness to

Four, the Georgian economy being in dire straits, Tbilisi is seeking
control over the Batumi port to ensure economic revival.

Five, the unnecessary unification of Georgia, Abkhazia, Adzharia and
South Ossetia caused the savage ethnic conflicts in the 1990s.

Russia helped deter a conflict around Adzharia. Moscow Mayor Yury
Luzhkov also made his contribution as a mediator. The Georgian and
Adzharian leaders reached a series of agreements through Mr.
Luzhkov’s mediation. As a result, the central government lifted
economic sanctions against the autonomy, while the latter ended the
state of emergency.

However, the conflict has not been resolved completely and it can
restart any moment.

BAKU: Aliyev received US 1st deputy secretary of state Armitage

Azer Tag, Azerbaijan State Info Agency
March 27 2004


[March 27, 2004, 16:17:19]

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received at the
President Palace the United States First Deputy Secretary of State
Richard Armitage and his entourage on 27 March.

Greeting the esteemed guests, head of the Azerbaijani state said that
the relations between America and Azerbaijan develop intensively. The
countries are very closely cooperating in numerous fields. With the
support of the United States, large-scale energy projects of world
importance are being realized in Azerbaijan. Construction of the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline successfully goes ahead, and this is
not secret for anybody that without support of the American
governments the Project could not be implemented.

Noting that the US Government renders huge assistance to the Country
in conducting of economic reforms and he hopes for boosting by the
United States of the current socio-economic development program,
President Ilham Aliyev emphasized that the two countries are well
cooperating in the military sphere, too. We are confident that this
cooperation will strengthen much more in the years ahead. Azerbaijan
allied to the United States in anti-terror combat. We are allies and
this policy will be continued in the coming years. All these show
that our countries are successfully cooperating and this will deepen
in the future.

Noting that security issues are very important, President Ilham
Aliyev confidently underlined that the peace would soon be
established in the region. But the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorny
Karabakh conflict greatly threatens this safety. We hope, the OSCE
Minsk Group will play positive role in settlement of this conflict,
Azerbaijan’s lands will be liberated from occupation, all the
international legal norms will be confirmed and territorial integrity
of our Country will be preserved. I appreciate your visit to
Azerbaijan and I am convinced that the relations between us, between
our countries will reach a higher level, President of Azerbaijan

Expressing his gratitude for sincere reception and stressing that he
is not able to express his pleasure with the visit to Baku, the US
First Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, addressing the head
of Azerbaijani state said: `Mr. President, I would like to express
my thanks to You and the people of Azerbaijan for support of my
Country in the anti-terror combat, and that you are ally to us and
take part in the joint operations. In particular, I would like to
note courageous service of the Azerbaijani militaries. They render us
assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, our goal, our intention
is to reach higher level of cooperation and that this cooperation
should cover economic, political, military, social and other spheres
as well’.

Touching upon the Armenian- Azerbaijani, Nagorny Karabakh conflict,
Mr. Armitage stated that the US, too, wants peaceful settlement of
this conflict. `We consider that the Caucasus, in the coming years
might be a very good ally and partner for the West. But, it needs the
existing conflicts here be solved. Therefore, I am also hopeful for
our talk. I hope our conversation will be attractive’.

Head of the foreign relations department of President Administration
Novruz Mammadov, the US ambassador to Azerbaijan Reno Harnish and
other officials participated at the reception.

Armenian authorities, Opp trade threats ahead of “real fight”

Armenian authorities, opposition trade threats ahead of “real fight”

Aravot, Yerevan
26 Mar 04

Text of unattributed report by Armenian newspaper Aravot on 26 March
headlined “The stage of frightening each other”

“Time will come and we shall see who will kill whom,” [Defence
Minister] Serzh Sarkisyan has said in reply to the opposition’s call
for a power change in April. His reply may be considered a motto of
today’s domestic political life in Armenia.

We shall see if the opposition will kill the authorities or visa
versa. All this is like a duel of professional boxers inside a ring,
when before the duel they swap threats. Such a psychological
atmosphere is becoming imminent between the authorities and the
opposition. And naturally much depends on who will win. They should
first answer the question – how will their own people react to what
will happen and who will they follow?

Let us start with the opposition. Its leaders speak so confidently
that one starts to believe that they really know where they are going
and are 100 per cent sure that people will follow them. Naturally,
this makes the authorities angry. Though the authorities assure us
that they are not frightened of the spring actions of the opposition,
they are obviously preparing for opposition attacks by strengthening
the prosecutor-general’s office, police, etc.

At present we have only a psychological fight on our political
ring. The real fight has not yet started and it cannot be ruled out
that it will not start. In reality though the authorities and the
opposition are trying to frighten each other as much as possible. They
are also worried as they do not know how people will behave during
their duel. People might decline to referee in this duel and recognize
somebody else as a winner. In all probability this will happen.

VTB finalizes deal to buy 70% of Armenia’s Armsberbank

Prime-Tass English-language Business Newswire
March 24, 2004

VTB finalizes deal to buy 70% of Armenia’s Armsberbank

MOSCOW, Mar 24 (Prime-Tass) — Major state-owned Russian bank
Vneshtorgbank (VTB) has finalized the deal to purchase a 70% stake in
Armenia’s savings bank Armsberbank, one of the largest in the
country, VTB’s press service reported Wednesday.

The purchase came as a planned step in the implementation of VTB’s
development program, which envisages the creation of a subsidiary
chain in Europe and the CIS, the press release stated.

Armsberbank, with its broad chain of branches and developed client
base, including small and middle-sized businesses, will serve as a
starting point for VTB’s further expansion to Armenia’s banking

Up until now, the bank was fully owned by the MIKA Armenia Trading

As of end-September, 2003, Armsberbank’s own capital totaled 2.652
billion drams, and pre-tax profit amounted to 181.1 million drams in

(561.55 drams – U.S. USD 1) End

A stab at greatness: Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian

The Toronto Star
March 25, 2004 Thursday Ontario Edition

A stab at greatness

Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian is tops among the best crop of singers
Canada has ever produced Makes Toronto Symphony Orchestra debut amid
ever-widening acclaim, writes William Littler

Noticing that her interviewer was eying her coffee cup, the scientist
in Isabel Bayrakdarian spoke up quickly:

“This has soy milk in it. You get to like soy. I don’t know if you
ever get to love it.”

Dairy products? The cup bearer shook her head, her dark eyes flashing
as she added, with a wicked smile, “And coffee leaches the calcium
from your body!”

Tempted as he was to pull his chair away from Columbia Artists’
boardroom table and submit his body for detoxification, your humble
servant decided instead to change the subject.

It was too early in the morning to confront, across a table, an
honours graduate in biomedical engineering from the University of

It was almost too early to confront her more recent identity as
Canada’s fastest-rising young soprano, the one she will exhibit in
her debut performance with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra next
Wednesday at Roy Thomson Hall (repeat performances take place April 1
and 3, with an added April 4 performance at North York’s George
Weston Recital Hall).

After all, she had just spent the previous evening across 57th St. on
the stage of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, joining three other
singers (mezzo-soprano Norine Burgess, tenor Michael Schade and
baritone Russell Braun), accompanied by pianists Carolyn Maule and
Serouj Kradjian, warbling her way through an all-Canadian
presentation of Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes, Op. 52, and Schumann’s
Spanish Liebeslieder.

Yes, I said all-Canadian.

With all four singers under contract, her manager at Columbia
Artists, Elizabeth Crittenden, had sold Carnegie Hall on the maple
leaf package and at the concert’s end, a cheering audience applauded
the decision.

The concert was emblematic of Canada’s current crop of vocal talent,
perhaps the most remarkable the country has yet produced.

Canadians are singing now on almost all the world’s major stages,
including those on Manhattan’s 57th St.

Indeed, three of the four Liebeslieder singers had already appeared
under Carnegie auspices. Bayrakdarian had not only sung her own
recital there, she had begun a complementary career at the nearby
Metropolitan Opera House, initially in a year ago as Catherine in
Willliam Bolcom’s A View From The Bridge, more recently as Teresa in
Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini. Not bad for someone who only took up
singing to improve her vocal skills in church.

Born in Lebanon, one of six children of Armenian parents, Isabel
moved with her family at age 14 to Toronto, where singing in an
Armenian church choir became a big part of her life. It still is. Her
debut CD for CBC Records, titled Joyous Light, celebrates several
centuries of Armenian liturgical music.

“I love the haunting quality of this music,” she explained, between
sips of coffee. “There is a bitter-sweetness and you can put so much
of yourself into its interpretation. I can go into an Armenian church
anywhere in the world, join the choir and start singing. It always
feels like home.”

It was during her vocal studies at home in Toronto with Jean McPhail
at the Royal Conservatory, carried on in tandem with her academic
studies at the University of Toronto, that the possibility of a
career in singing gradually emerged for the young chorister.

“We all need idols and when I grew up there was no Armenian operatic
singer I could look up to, although I later learned that Lucine Amara
was Armenian. So it took time for me to realize I could have a
career. All my biographies now say Canadian-Armenian soprano. I’m
Armenian by heritage but I belong to Canada.”

Canada and the world, actually. The journey from membership in the
Canadian Opera Ensemble (she made her debut in major roles as Rosina
in a production of Rossini’s The Barber Of Seville in February, 1999)
to stardom in New York, Paris and Salzburg has taken only a brief few

“My path to opera was not planned.” she smiled. “And my path through
it will be as spontaneous as I can make it. Someone asked me recently
what I will be doing in January, 2009. I just will not commit that
far. Two or three years ahead yes, but my god, five?”

Bayrakdarian’s reason for caution is obvious. With so few roles under
her belt, she is still experimenting with what works for her. “Tosca
is a great role,” she explained, “but not for my voice. And I’m not
an ‘ina’ (as in Donizetti’s Norina or Mozart’s Despina), the kind of
(soubrette) voice that sings until the age of 40, when they start
looking for younger versions of you.

“It is a blessing that my voice has developed at the extremes and
gained much more depth in the middle. I find that if you lead a
healthy lifestyle, the voice is healthy. Use food as a fuel, not as a
way of dealing with emotional problems. I love what Birgit Nilsson
said: ‘Sad birds don’t sing.'”

An obviously happy bird at this stage of her career, Bayrakdarian was
effectively launched on the international stage by winning Placido
Domingo’s Operalia Competition in 2000. Her combination of vocal
freshness, physical beauty and an outgoing personality have continued
to dazzle the experts as well as the general public.

Offstage, she loves fast cars, holds a scuba-diving licence and can
mix a drink with the skill that put her through the Bartending School
of Ontario.

No, I’m not joking. “Just a little wine is enough to make me whooo,”
the soprano laughed. “But with my bartender’s licence I can be a
great host. I guess it’s the chemist in me.”

It’s the singer in her that she is concentrating on these days, with
the international scope of her career making her a connoisseur of

“Every day I count my blessings that I do what I do,” she insisted.
“And having a partner who is also in music and experiences all this
with you completely changes you (Serouj Kradjian not only makes music
with his fellow alumnus of Toronto’s Armenian community, he happens
to be her fiance).

“I love the travel. But I can’t wait for my Toronto Symphony
Orchestra debut. It’s singing at home. I love the idea of being able
to drive to work. It’s as close to a normal job as I’ll ever have.”

Does she miss the biomedical engineering? “I don’t regret spending
those years in science at all. But I am a different person now. Music
brings out the best in you. It refreshes the soul. I feel it has made
me a better person.”

Who: Isabel Bayrakdarian
Where: Roy Thomson Hall,
60 Simcoe St.
When: Mar. 31, Apr. 1, 3
Apr. 4 @ Weston Recital Hall
Tickets: $31 – $98 @ 416-872-4255 (416-870-8000 for Weston Recital Hall)

GRAPHIC: “My path to opera was not planned. And my path through it
will be as spontaneous as I can make it,” says Toronto-based soprano
Isabel Bayrakdarian, seen here as Pamina for the Cincinnati Opera.

International role appeals to retiring judge

Kingston Daily Freeman, NY
March 24 2004

International role appeals to retiring judge

By Hallie Arnold , Freeman staff 03/24/2004

KINGSTON – Ulster County Surrogate’s Court Judge Joseph J.
Traficanti Jr., who rose from his early days as a local attorney to
become a state deputy chief administrative judge and statewide
director of drug treatment court programs, says he will leave the
bench in May to help developing countries build judicial systems.

“When I took over management of drug courts in New York state, I
began to see how you can really see results when you help people at
that level,” Traficanti, 61, said Tuesday. “I thought I could help
make a contribution to people in the developing world, and help
modernize their judicial system. A judicial system is essential to
any democracy to survive.”

Early on, Traficanti worked for the town of Rochester, the Accord
Fire District, and the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office. He
was elected Surrogate’s Court judge in 1982. In 1991, he was
appointed deputy chief administrative judge for courts outside New
York City, overseeing operations in 57 counties. In 2000, he became
the state’s first director of drug treatment court programs.

“Judge Traficanti was entrusted with the critical responsibility of
providing centralized direction for the statewide rollout of New
York’s landmark court-mandated drug treatment initiative,” Judith
Kaye, chief judge of the state Court of Appeals, said in a prepared
statement. “He served admirably in this regard, overseeing the
implementation of a new protocol in which all criminal cases would be
screened for substance abuse, as well as the establishment of drug
courts in jurisdictions across the state.”

Traficanti plans to pursue a career as an independent international
legal consultant. He’ll first travel to Russia for 10 days, lecturing
on commercial courts, small claims, arbitration and mediation for the
U.S. Agency for International Development.

Shortly after that, he’ll set off on the first of several trips to
Armenia over the course of a year to analyze and recommend
improvements to court operations.

“It’s bittersweet, in a way,” Traficanti said of leaving the bench.
“I’ve worked for the best chief judge. It’s been a terrific job, and
a wonderful job. Some people would think I’m crazy to leave. But the
time comes in life when you need to climb another mountain.”

Traficanti’s two state posts will be filled by appointment by Chief
Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman. The post of Ulster County
Surrogate’s Court judge will be filled in the November election.

CR: Amendment to S. 1637 in Congress to extend NTR to Armenia

The Congressional Record
23 March 2004

SA 2907. Mr. McCONNELL submitted an amendment intended to be proposed
by him to the bill S. 1637, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986
to comply with the World Trade Organization rulings on the FSC/ETI
benefit in a manner that preserves jobs and production activities in
the United States, to reform and simplify the international taxation
rules of the United States, and for other purposes; which was ordered
to lie on the table; as follows:

At the end of the amendment, add the following:



Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Armenia has been found to be in full compliance with
the freedom of emigration requirements under title IV of the
Trade Act of 1974.
(2) Armenia acceded to the World Trade Organization on
February 5, 2003.
(3) Since declaring its independence from the Soviet Union
in 1991, Armenia has made considerable progress in enacting
free-market reforms within a stable democratic framework.
(4) Armenia has demonstrated a strong desire to build a
friendly and cooperative relationship with the United States
and has concluded many bilateral treaties and agreements with
the United States.
(5) United States-Armenia bilateral trade for 2002 totaled
more than $134,200,000.


(a) Presidential Determinations and Extensions of
Nondiscriminatory Treatment.–Notwithstanding any provision
of title IV of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2431 et
seq.), the President may–
(1) determine that such title should no longer apply to
Armenia; and

[[Page S3033]]

(2) after making a determination under paragraph (1) with
respect to Armenia, proclaim the extension of
nondiscriminatory treatment (normal trade relations
treatment) to the products of that country.
(b) Termination of Application of Title IV.–On and after
the effective date of the extension under subsection (a)(2)
of nondiscriminatory treatment to the products of Armenia,
title IV of the Trade Act of 1974 shall cease to apply to
that country.