California Courier Online, March 25, 2004

California Courier Online, March 25, 2004

1 – Commentary
Armenia Finally Protests British
Ambassador’s Denial of Genocide

By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
2 – Alumni Upset at AGBU for Reported
Closing of Melkonian Institute in Cyprus
3 – ARF Dro Gomideh Event Raises
$50,000 for Mesrobian School
4 – Rep. Schiff Names Aida Yeghiazarian
As Woman of Year for 29th. District
5 – WAAA Armenian Summer Games
Returns to Central California
1 – Commentary
Armenia Finally Protests British
Ambassador’s Denial of Genocide

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

The Armenian Foreign Ministry joined last week with hundreds of Armenian as
well as non-Armenian individuals and organizations from throughout the
world to protest the denial of the Armenian Genocide by the British
Ambassador. The Armenian Public (State) TV, broadcast to Armenian
communities worldwide, devoted close to 5 minutes of airtime to the
controversy surrounding the British Ambassador.
In response to the flood of e-mails and the media coverage as well as the
public condemnation issued last week by Levon Lazarian, the leader of the
ARF Parliamentary faction, the Armenian Foreign Ministry finally lodged an
official protest with the British Ambassador for her denial on January 20th
that a genocide was committed against the Armenians in 1915. The Agence
France Presse quoted the following very mild statement of foreign ministry
spokesman Hamlet Gasparyan: “we regret the position” taken by Amb. Thorda
Abbott-Watt. “Every country has a right to make up its own mind on this,
based on their own strategic interests. But on Armenian soil, the
ambassadors have to be more sensitive and delicate.”
In addition to the flood of e-mails sent by individuals, Armenian as well
as non-Armenian organizations from 17 countries (Armenia, Australia,
Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania,
Norway, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United
Kingdom) have issued statements seeking a public apology from the British
Ambassador and urging her withdrawal or expulsion from Armenia. Protest
e-mails have been sent not only to Amb. Abbott-Watt, but also to the
British Foreign Ministry, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and to the Armenian
Foreign Ministry.
The e-mail campaign has already had a desirable effect on Amb. Abbott-Watt.
Last week, when an Armenian TV reporter approached her, she declined to
make any further comments on the Armenian Genocide. Consequently, other
Ambassadors in Yerevan, having become aware of the reaction of the Armenian
people and the government on this issue, would be more circumspect in their
future statements on the Armenian Genocide. As April 24 is approaching,
protest demonstrations should be organized in front of the British Embassy
in Yerevan, the British Foreign Ministry in London, as well as all British
Embassies and Consulates throughout the world.
In the meantime, everyone should continue sending e-mails to the British
Ambassador ([email protected]) asking her to make a public
apology for her offensive remarks on the Armenian Genocide. E-mails should
also be sent to Michael Jay, the Under-Secretary and Head of the UK
Diplomatic Service ([email protected]) and to Prime Minister Tony
Blair through the following web site
(, click on select a subject,
select “international affairs,” and then click on the “go” button), asking
them to withdraw their Ambassador as she can no longer effectively carry
out her diplomatic duties in Armenia. Please send copies of your e-mails
and any responses to the Armenian Foreign Ministry
([email protected]) and to [email protected].
To review articles and correspondence on this issue, please check the
following web site (). The latest update is the
blistering statement issued by Ara Abrahamian, the Chairman of the World
Armenian Congress. He described the British Ambassador’s conduct as
unbecoming of a diplomat and called for her immediate expulsion from


The L.A. Weekly, in its Feb. 20-26, 2004 issue, published a notice for an
upcoming multi-ethnic, inter-faith concert. The announcement contained the
following very offensive statement regarding Armenians:
“SACRED SOUL features The Yuval Ron Ensemble (with Najwa Gibran) and The
Gwen Wyatt Chorale. ‘An outreach for the Israeli, Jewish and
African-American communities in L.A.’ No Armenians allowed. WILSHIRE UNITED
METHODIST, 4350 Wilshire Blvd., Sun., Feb. 22, 4 p.m. (818) 505-1355.”
The L.A. Weekly received complaints from many of its 200,000 readers as
well as a letter from Jay Shanker, the attorney of Mr. Yuval Ron demanding
that the “paper print an immediate and prominent retraction and apology for
the statement in this coming week’s issue.” The lawyer characterized the
publication’s wording as “intentionally and provocatively hateful and
inflammatory.” Shanker also stated, “a large number of the anticipated
audience for this event elected not to attend based on this offensive
notice. Your full and timely cooperation in this regard will greatly
influence my client’s and his associates’ decision as to whether any
further action should be taken against your paper.”
In response, the L.A. Weekly, in its Feb. 27-March 4, 2004 issue, published
the following “apology” at the end of its Letters to the Editor section:
“The Weekly sincerely apologizes to the performers, concert promoters, and
anyone else upset by the Feb. 20-26 concert listing for the ‘Sacred Soul’
event at the Wilshire United Methodist Church. Although the brief
commentary was intended solely as a joke, we recognize it may have offended
some readers. For that, we are truly sorry.”
The above statement satisfied neither the Armenian community nor the
organizers of the concert. Mr. Yuval Ron wrote to the L.A. Weekly on March
1, 2004, to express his “disappointment of the half hearted apology.” He
demanded “a direct and more detailed letter of apology,” otherwise he
threatened to take “further public and/or legal actions” against the
In response, Laurie Ochoa, the Editor in Chief of the L.A. Weekly, wrote to
Mr. Ron, expressing the paper’s “most sincere regret about the insensitive
commentary, a tasteless attempt at humor by those who compile our concert
On March 5, 2004, Rev. Franklin D. Sablan of the Wilshire United Methodist
Church wrote to the L.A. Weekly, stating that he “was deeply offended” by
“the racist comments.” He charged that the paper “maligned the name of the
Wilshire United Methodist Church.”
Last week, several Armenian community representatives, including this
writer, met with the L.A. Weekly. The editors disclosed that Libby
Molyneaux, the Associate Calendar Editor, was the one who inserted the
anti-Armenian remark in the concert announcement, “as a joke.” While the
editors expressed sincere regret for the offensive insertion, they felt
that their published apology ended the controversy. They said that they
could not dismiss the offending employee due to restrictions by the labor
When the Armenian group insisted that the published apology was inadequate
and the Armenian community may consider legal action, the editors said they
would rethink their position.
Given the large circulation of this publication and the offensive nature of
the inserted statement, readers are urged to send e-mails to the Managing
Editor, Sharan Street ([email protected]), to express their outrage,
demanding that a more elaborate and prominent retraction be published and
disciplinary action be taken against the offending employee.
Armenians should also consider, after consulting with lawyers, filing a
lawsuit for the violation of their civil rights under Federal and State
2 – Alumni Upset at AGBU for Reported
Closing of Melkonian Institute in Cyprus
By Jean Christou
Cyprus Mail
NICOSIA, Cyprus – The Melkonian Educational Institute in Nicosia is to
close from June 2005, the New York-based foundation that administers
Armenian schools worldwide announced last week.
The move by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), which said only
three months ago that the 78-year-old school was not for sale, has angered
the 3,000-strong Armenian community on the island.
They said yesterday they planned to stage a demonstration on March 24
against the closure of the school, while the Melkonian’s alumni hope to
take legal action.
In November, the AGBU denied reports that the loss-making school, sitting
on a £40 million plot in the capital’s commercial district, was up for
grabs by developers and would be sold.
But in its announcement yesterday, the AGBU said that after “extensive
deliberations and thorough assessment,” the Central Board had resolved
unanimously to discontinue the school in June 2005.
“The Melkonian Educational Institute (MEI), as a significant and historical
institution within AGBU, has been a concern of the Central Board over many
years. This decision is based largely on the Board’s conclusion that MEI no
longer meets the challenges of its mission in the present context of the
Armenian world,” the AGBU said.
“The ultimate objective is to lay their hands on the land and take the
funds out of Cyprus,” Shavasb Bohdjalian, head of the alumni, told the
Cyprus Mail yesterday.
Since the controversy began, the Armenian community has managed to have the
Melkonian declared a listed building and has persuaded the Forestry
Department to file an application to declare the wooded area
in the grounds as a protected forest. Legal action is now being considered,
Bohdjalian said. If there is a case, it is likely to be fought in the
Cypriot courts, he said.
In a paid ad that appeared in local papers 10 days ago, Gordon Anderson,
the American representative of the AGBU, said that “several options are
being considered” to accommodate the 200 or so students at other schools so
that they can gain an education “that will have an Armenian component.”
The AGBU administers 22 Armenian schools worldwide, including the
Melkonian, which was founded in 1926 and is today the only secondary school
in Cyprus for the Armenian community.
“It is not just a matter of the sale of the land and the flight of some 80
million dollars to the US in violation of a 1926 will by the founders,” the
alumni said. “It’s also abuse of the rights of Armenian children who are
being deprived their human right to a fair education based on their
cultural heritage,” they said, adding that
the AGBU Central Board had refused to discuss ways to save the school
because their main aim was “to take the money and run.”
The AGBU said the Central Board fully recognized and honored the continued
legacy of the Melkonian Brothers, and “is determined to perpetuate their
memory through new educational programs to be implemented within and
outside Cyprus, in line with the spirit of their donation to AGBU.”
However, the alumni said the AGBU’s talk of co-operating with other
institutions, research centers and even universities was a public relations
gimmick that aimed to mislead the Cyprus government into allowing the sale
and subsequent export of the funds.
3 – ARF Dro Gomideh Event Raises
$50,000 for Mesrobian School
MONTEBELLO – For the second year in a row, a dinner dance organized at the
Montebello Armenian Center by the A.R.F. San Gabriel “Dro” Gomideh on March
6 netted the Mesrobian Armenian School of Pico Rivera a resounding $50,000.
Nearly 400 guests were on hand, representing local civic and youth
organizations, to show their support for the educational institution and
the local Gomideh.
Master of Ceremonies Nazareth Sadorian welcomed the guests and the
dignitaries, which included Holy Cross Armenian Cathedral’s pastor Very
Rev. Hrant Yeretsian, and Rev. Khoren Baboushian, and representatives from
the ARF Central Committee, including Chairman Hovig Saliba.
The highlight of the evening featured a tribute to long-time educator and
one of the charter instructors at Mesrobian School, Roubina Pakradouni, who
retired last year after 50 years of devoted and caring service to Armenian
education. With distinction, she taught Armenian elementary students,
first in Lebanon for 12 years, and then for 38 more years at Mesrobian
The well-respected educator was presented a plaque to a standing ovation
from the guests, acknowledging her selfless service.
Pakradouni spoke briefly and emotionally, thanking the Gomideh for the
honor, and also thanked members of her family for their support, her former
teachers and, in particular, her 94-year-old mother, Manoushak Nakashian
Pakradouni, who was present to witness the presentation of the plaque.
Appreciative remarks were presented by her former Mesrobian colleague, also
a long-time educator, now also retired, Marie Ohanessian.
Remarks were also made by Mesrobian School Principal Hilda Saliba.
In his remarks, “Dro” Gomideh Chairman, Sarkis Sassounian reiterated the
Gomideh’s commitment to the Mesrobian School and the spirit that embodies
Armenian education, civic dedication, and the pursuit of the national
aspirations of the Armenian nation.
The other highlight of the evening came after popular singer Karnig
Sarkissian began his long-awaited performance of revolutionary songs.
Galvanizing the substantial number of members present from the Armenian
Youth Federation, and friends, the inspirational and traditional songs also
elicited requests and accompanying donations, which by evening’s end rose
to $42,000, including a generous contribution of $12,500 by the Nourian
Family. To round out the number and match last year’s amount, the “Dro”
Gomideh added $8,000, bringing the total to $50,000.
“The amount contributed was just as impressive as the community spirit and
unity demonstrated this evening,” one of the guests remarked afterwards.
“It was truly an inspiring evening.”
The evening’s musical entertainment was provided by Bedig Yeranosian and
the Knar Band.
4 – Rep. Schiff Names Aida Yeghiazarian
As Woman of Year for 29th. District
WASHINGTON, D.C. – To commemorate Women’s History Month, U.S.
Representative Adam Schiff announced last week that he has named Aida
Yeghiazarian of Glendale, California as one of the Women of the Year for
California’s 29th District. Yeghiazarian was honored at a “Women of the
Year” luncheon hosted by Rep. Schiff on March 22.
“Over the years, Ms. Yeghiazarian has been an active volunteer in Glendale
and advocate for better education programs for Armenian children in
Southern California,” Rep. Schiff said. “The entire community joins me in
thanking Aida for her continued efforts to make the 29th Congressional
District a
more vibrant and enjoyable place in which to live, and for her devotion to
those in need.”
Yeghiazarian was born in Tehran, Iran in 1955. After attending Reza Shah
High School, she took accounting courses at a local college for one year.
Although her studies in Iran were interrupted when she and her family
immigrated to the United States in 1977, Aida took many courses in the
United States over the next few years, including management of commercial
properties, business and real estate law and English. In 1979, Aida married
her husband, Vahe, and they moved to Glendale. In 1980, Aida obtained her
real estate license, and with her husband, bought a franchise of the Re/Max
Real Estate Agency. They have 2 daughters, Sevan and Anie.
While maintaining a full-time career, Aida volunteered at all of her
daughters’ schools, including the Verdugo Gymnastics School, Flintridge
Preparatory School, the Champion Gymnastics School and Van Nuys Gymnastics
Olympica. Formerly active in the PTAs of Tufenkian Pre-school and Chamlian
Armenian School, she still assists Chamlian School in its fundraising
Yeghiazarian has been on the Glendale Board of Realtors for over 24 years,
serving on their commercial real estate advisory committee. She is a
member of the National Association of Realtors and a member of the
California Association of Realtors. Because of her real estate experience,
Aida feels fortunate to be able to help financially struggling families
with their financial planning, often by working without commission.
Yeghiazarian spearheaded the successful fundraising campaign for the
Glendale Police Memorial Fund, raising over $35,000. She is a former
President and 12-year board member of the Armenian Educational Foundation.
She also serves on the Armenian National Committee of America Western
Region, is a member of Homenetmen, and the Armenian American Chamber of
5 – WAAA Armenian Summer Games
Returns to Central California
FRESNO – This year marks the 34th year of athletic competition hosted by
the Western Armenian Athletic Association. The events will include men’s
basketball, women’s volleyball, tennis, and track and field.
The games, which are an opportunity for athletes of Armenian descent to
showcase their skills, will be held June 18,19 and 20 at Buchanan High
School in Clovis.
This modern complex has outstanding facilities, including a 9,000-seat
stadium with an all-weather track. Track and field events on Saturday will
be open to people of all ages and be contested in age groups. Tennis will
also be held on Satuday and will include singles and doubles competition by
age groupings. Two campus gymnasiums will be home to the basketball and
volleyball tournaments.
WAAA President Van Der Mugrdechian and Vice President Marty Bohigian are
looking forward to a successful return to Central California from the Bay
Area. Several activities are being planned in conjunction with the sports
events to help make this a weekend everyone will enjoy. Entry forms and
details of activities will be available soon.
For more information, contact Der Mugrdechian at (559) 298-2371
[email protected] or Marty Bohigian at (559) 297-7887,
[email protected].
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Kocharian: Russia makes choice in favor of stability & democracy

RIA Novosti, Russia
March 15 2004


YEREVAN, March 15, 2004. (RIA Novosti) — President of Armenia Robert
Kocharyan has congratulated Vladimir Putin on his re-election to the
post of the President of the Russian Federation.

In the opinion of the Armenian leader, on March 14 Russia has made
her firm choice in favor of stability, democracy and prosperity.

“The elections have shown that the people of Russia see in the
re-elected Russian President the leader, who is leading the country
along the path of sustainable development, upholding of the national
interests and adherence to the policy of good-neighborliness and
cooperation,” Mr. Kocharyan’s congratulatory message says.

According to him, Armenia highly praises the great personal
contribution of Mr. Putin to furthering allied Russian-Armenian
relations. The successes are evident here along the entire spectrum
of bilateral ties, the Armenian President stressed. He assured
Vladimir Putin of Yerevan’s readiness to continue efforts aimed at
promoting cooperation between the two states.

European Union set to allocate 20m euros to Armenia

European Union set to allocate 20m euros to Armenia

Mediamax news agency
15 Mar 04


The European Union (EU) will allocate 20m euros to Armenia for the
realization of a national indicative program designed for 2004-06.

The agreement on the realization of this program was signed by
Armenian Minister of Finance and Economy Vardan Khachatryan and the
head of the EU delegation in Armenia and Georgia, Torben Holtze, in
Yerevan today, Mediamax reported.

Torben Holtze said that under the program 13.5m will be directed to
assist the carrying out of institutional and administrative reforms
and 6.5m euros to liquidate the social consequences of the transition

The EU annual aid to Armenia makes 50 to 60m euros.

Austria’s Teos Holds Nearly 95% in Rubin


March 8, 2004

By Violeta Ivanova

AUSTRIA’S Teos Holding, which deals with asset and equity management,
has acquired 19,690 shares (4.49% of the capital) in Bulgaria’s Rubin
of Pleven after a tender offer to the minority stockholders. Now Teos
already holds 94.495% of the glass maker. The tender offer concerned
9.95% of the capital, or 43,609 shares, at a BGN 18.54 price per unit.

Rubin has a product list of more than 300 different items but
manufactures mainly bottles and jars. The capacity of the works
exceeds 120 million items a year. Clients of the company are mainly
Bulgarian producer of canned food, wine, beer, soft and alcoholic
drinks. Rubin also exports to Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and
Montenegro, Romania, Armenia and Moldova. .

Husband scores a winner with his band of all-stars

Husband scores a winner with his band of all-stars

March 8, 2004


Gary Husband, Queen Elizabeth Hall

IT is an exciting moment when a musician comes of age. Gary Husband, a
respected pianist and drummer, has long been one of London’s most
versatile players, but one who also hankered to write.

Handed a five-city British tour as leader of a handpicked US
supergroup, he seized his chance. His superb scores – an engrossing
series of post-Zawinul, electric-Miles landscapes, deliberately devoid
of saxophones or guitars – made Friday’s concert a revelation.

It opened with sound portraits of Burt Bacharach, Bjork and John
McLaughlin, three musicians whose individualism Husband admires. His
suitably original orchestrations, packed with strong themes and
brooding synth chords, seemed to double the size of a septet whose
unusual front line (trumpeter Randy Brecker, trombonist Elliot Mason
and electric violinist Jerry Goodman) blended magnificently.

When not rising to conduct ensemble sections, Husband spend most of
his time at the drums, driving the tempos along with massive authority
and leaving most keyboard solos unselfishly to synthman Jim
Beard. Even during quieter passages, the rhythm team of Husband,
Beard, alert Fender-bassist Matthew Garrison and the amazing Armenian
percussionist Arto Tuncboyaciyan kept the atmosphere tingling with
creative possibilities.

Second-half highlights included Stone Souls, a suite featuring Arto’s
effective voice-effects and flying hands – “Try to resist him,”
quipped the leader – the British-born Mason’s prowess on the difficult
bass-trumpet, and the all-round expertise of Goodman and Brecker.

The Contemporary Music Network, which organised this tour, and BBC
Radio 3, who commissioned the music, can also take a bow.

It is one thing to hand taxpayers’ money to established stars, quite
another to risk it on an artist of untapped potential. Husband has
repaid that faith. The quality of his writing, and his all-stars’
inspired response to it, produced a performance that ranks among the
year’s best.

Replacing banknotes with coins not to depreciate their value

March 9 2004


YEREVAN, MARCH 9, ARMENPRESS: Armenian banknotes with a face value
of 50 and 100 drams, issued in 1993, were withdrawn from circulation
from December 31 2003, while banknotes with 1000 drams face value
ceased to be legal tender from 2004 March 1. Other banknotes with
face value of 10,25, 200 drams, as well as 50 and 100 dram banknotes,
issued in 1998 will be circulated until April 1.
An official of the Armenian central bank said today that all
listed banknotes have not lost their value and can be exchanged at
the central or commercial banks free of charge. He said there is no
deadline for their exchange.
He also said these banknotes are to be accepted by all trading
outlets before the deadline, adding that introduction of coins will
not lead to dram’s depreciation. The 5,000 dram banknotes, issued in
1995 will be withdrawn from circulation in 2004 July 1.
The official, Gevork Tumanian, the head of central bank’s emission
department, said the overall number of faked banknotes, if compared
with other CIS countries, is small in Armenia and their volume does
not pose any danger to the economy. He said the national currency is
faked either by professionals or amateurs, the first using advanced
technologies while the second print them by computers. More than
others is faked a 500 dram banknote. He said no instances of faked
coins were revealed, which he said requires special devices and is
more costly.

Iranian delegation explores ways for cooperation

March 9 2004


YEREVAN, MARCH 9, ARMENPRESS: Members of an Iranian delegation,
led by the deputy governor of Ardabil province, Najafi Azeri, that
arrived in Armenia on March 8 for a three-day visit, were received
today by o Armenian agriculture minister David Lokian to explore
possibilities for establishing cooperation.
Minister David Lokian emphasized that Ardabil is known for its
highly effective agricultural sector, which he said is a good
precondition for establishing a bilateral collaboration in this
sphere. First contacts between the agricultural ministry of Armenia
and the province were established last year during a visit by the
governor of the Iranian province to Armenia. The main issue that was
discussed today was establishment of a potato processing factory. The
Iranian sides looks towards hiring some space in one of Armenian
regions to install its technologies.
Iranian officials are scheduled also to have meetings with
officials of Armenian trade and economic development ministry, they
will visit Armenian commerce and industry chamber and the Armenian
Development Agency. They will also be received by territorial
minister Hovik Abrahamian and the chief of presidential staff
Artashes Tumanian. They then will visit a range of enterprises in

Russia cutting supplies of natural gas to Tbilisi by half

ITAR-TASS News Agency
March 10, 2004 Wednesday

Russia cutting supplies of natural gas to Tbilisi by half

By Dmitry Zlodorev


Russian foreign trade company Gazexport, a subsidiary of the natural
gas producer Gazprom, is expected to cut by a half the supplies of
natural gas to the Georgian capital city of Tbilisi as of March 15,
Gazexport sources said Wednesday.

The upcoming slash results from non-payments for gas over the past
few months, with the total debt reaching 7.4 million U.S. dollars.

Itar-Tass Tbilisi-based correspondent Ia Barateli said earlier
Gazexport supplies 1.7 million cubic meters of gas to the city a day,
and if the local operator of gas distribution lines, Tbilgazi Co.,
manages to pay 2.5 million U.S. dollars in the next few days, there
will be no slash.

In the meantime, Georgian experts say the problem of back payments
comes partly from irregular financing of Tbilgazi by the local
authorities. This finance should cover the cost of gas consumed by
low-income people, public health institutions and social facilities.

Alexander Ryazanov, a deputy CEO at Gazprom, gave assurances earlier
this month the company would continue deliveries of gas to Georgia.

He said at the same time Gazprom was concerned by the technical
condition of the trunk pipelines by which Russia was pumping gas to

“We’re worried by the lack of repair works at the gas pipelines in
Georgia,” he said.