ALIYEV: Minsk Group can’t play positive role in Karabakh conflict

ITAR-TASS News Agency
March 24, 2004 Wednesday

Minsk Group can’t play positive role in Karabakh conflict -Aliyev

By Sevindzh Abdullayeva and Viktor Shulman


Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev said the OSCE Minsk Group’s
current approach towards the Karabakh conflict did not allow it to
play a positive role in its resolution.

“The position of the Minsk Group is not translated into efforts to
resolve the conflict and boils down to watching the process,” Aliyev
told journalists upon arrival from Uzbekistan where he had been on a
two-day state visit.

Aliyev said he had repeatedly reminded the Minsk Group co-chairmen
about the need to mediate the peace efforts within the framework of
their mandate. “However when we are told that the presidents of
Azerbaijan and Armenia should come to agreement themselves and the
co-chairmen will support whatever decision they make, it is not
mediation,” the president said.

Evaluating the work of the Minsk Group since its creation 12 years
ago, Aliyev said, “Nothing positive has been done over this time”.

“I cannot say that the Minsk Group was indifferent to the problem. It
tried and tried to contribute to the settlement efforts, but there
has been no result so far,” he said.

Russia’s state-owned Vneshtorgbank controls stake in Armenian bank

Associated Press Worldstream
March 24, 2004 Wednesday

Russia’s state-owned Vneshtorgbank buys controlling stake in Armenian

Russia’s state-owned Vneshtorgbank on Wednesday bought 70 percent of
the shares in a major Armenian bank, officials said.

Andrei Kostin, board chairman of Vneshtorgbank, said that the
purchase of a controlling stake in Armenia’s Armsberbank marked the
Russian bank’s first acquisition of another bank in the former Soviet

He called it recognition of Armenia’s political and economic

Russian state-owned companies have increasingly tightened their
foothold in this ex-Soviet republic. Russia’s giant energy monopoly
assumed financial control of Armenia’s only nuclear plant last year
in a deal that Armenia sought to get out from under massive energy
debts to Russian fuel suppliers.

Armenia also depends on Russia’s Gazprom for natural gas supplies,
and Russian businesses are reportedly eying other sectors of the
Armenian economy.

Kostin said that Vneshtorgbank, which is 99.9 percent state-owned,
planned to use its investment to provide “the whole spectrum of
services to Russian companies operating in Armenia.” He also said
that it was considering a significant increase of Armsberbank’s

Armsberbank was created in 1923 and privatized in 2001.

Two other Armenian banks, Areksimbank and Yunibank, also have Russian

Closure of nuclear plant to stimulate Armenia’s energy sector

Closure of nuclear plant to stimulate Armenia’s energy sector

Haykakan Zhamanak, Yerevan
19 Mar 04

Excerpt from unattributed report by Armenian newspaper Haykakan
Zhamanak on 19 March headlined “”A draft law on the closure of the
Armenian Nuclear Power Station”

The government yesterday approved a draft law “On saving energy and
restoring the energy sector” that will be submitted to the National
Assembly for ratification. In fact, this law may also be called a bill
“On the closure of the Armenian Nuclear Power Station”. During
yesterday’s news conference on the submission of the draft law, Deputy
Energy Minister Areg Galstyan said that it is planned to raise the
level of Armenia’s energy system through the ratification of this
draft law.

According to Galstyan, in order to solve this problem, it is necessary
to stimulate the development of domestic energy resources, i.e. the
development of energy production in hydroelectric and wind power
plants. According to the deputy energy minister, this new law
specifies the government’s steps in this sector. It is to increase
energy produced with the help of domestic energy resources.

During the news conference, Galstyan listed several figures. Last year
Armenian consumed about 5.5bn kW/h of electricity, and 2bn kW/h of
this amount were produced by hydroelectric power plants.

Passage omitted: Other figures

Duma ratifies protocol on anti-terrorist operations in CIS

ITAR-TASS News Agency
March 17, 2004

Duma ratifies protocol on anti-terrorist operations in CIS

By Lyudmila Alexandrova


The State Duma, lower house of Russia’s parliament, has ratified a
protocol on the procedure of organising and conducting anti-terrorist
operations on the territory of CIS countries.

The protocol was signed by Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Ukraine in
Chisinau on October 7, 2002 at a session of the Council of CIS Heads
of State. It determines the tasks and the procedure of organising and
conducting joint anti-terrorist operations on the territory of CIS

Newsletter from, date: 02-03-2004 to 10-03-2004

[09-03-2004 ‘Armenia-Azerbaijan’]
————————————————- ———————
Source : Yerevan Press Club Weekly Newsletter (Armenia)

On March 9, 2004 4 public organizations of Armenia – Yerevan Press
Club, Helsinki Committee of Armenia, Civil Society Institute and
Caucasian Center of Peace Initiatives – disseminated a joint statement
on the assassination of Armenian officer Gurgen Margarian by his
Azerbaijani colleague in Budapest.

`We, similarly to all our compatriots, were greatly shattered by the
barbarous murder of Armenia officer Gurgen Margarian by Azerbaijani
peer Ramil Safarov. The tragic incident in Budapest provoke numerous
thoughts: about the hate incitement towards Armenian in Azerbaijan
that forms the moral and psychological ground for such crimes as well
as about the connivance of certain international structures to the
destructive policy in Baku, narrowing down the prospects of dialogue
with Armenia.

At the same time the irresponsible statements by several Armenian
political and public figures, the publications in media during the
recent days cannot but cause our serious concern. In particular, the
Chairman of the Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs of the RA
National Assembly Airmen Rustamian, during the commemoration action
for victims of Sumgait pogroms and the head of the Parliament faction
of Republican Party Galust Sahakian during a briefing at NA on March
4, speaking about the assassin of Gurgen Margarian indulged into
unacceptable generalizations to the address of Azerbaijan nation as

These statements by politicians of such a high rank, representing a
governing political coalition, are all the more unacceptable since
they can be qualified as an official position of ours state, can
create new obstacles for the negotiations on the peaceful resolution
of Karabagh conflict and the normalization of relations between
Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The artificial intensification of anti-Armenian sentiment in
Azerbaijan and its consequences are to be most strongly criticized,
but they can in no way become a justification for dissemination of
racist and chauvinist ideas, alien to our society.

However hard are our experiences related to Budapest tragedy, we call
to display political reticence and hope that common sense and
democratic values will remain guiding for our country’, the statement
of the Armenian NGOs says.

[08-03-2004 ‘Region’]
Source : “Turkish Daily News” newspaper (Turkey)

U.S. Department of State senior Turkey desk officer Larry Silverman
said Turkey’s European Union membership was one of greatest priorities
of the U.S. administration.

Speaking at a meeting of the American-Turkish Association of
Washington DC (ATA-DC), Silverman said Turkey is expecting a blunt,
not a conditional, “yes” at the EU summit scheduled for December 2004
and added that recent signals from the EU reflected an inclination in
that direction. Silverman noted that Turkey played a key role in
policies on a wide range of issues regarding energy, terrorism,
economic development, human rights, the Middle East, Central Asia and
the Caucasus and said, “Turkey’s success is of special importance to
the whole world.”

Silverman also praised recent reforms in Turkey, saying, “Turkey has
realized such reforms that it has even gone further than us on some
issues. For instance, if we wanted to join the EU, we wouldn’t be able
to do that because we have the death penalty in our laws. However,
Turkey has abolished the death penalty as part of the reforms its
Parliament has passed.”

He said Turkey had passed these reforms since they were to the
advantage of the country rather than for the purpose of joining the

Turkey’s Parliament has recently legislated a series of democratic
reforms including limiting the power of the military, abolishing the
death penalty and granting greater rights to its Kurdish citizens and
it is expecting to get a go-ahead from the EU in December.

[05-03-2004 ‘Armenia-Azerbaijan’]
Source : “Echo” newspaper (Azerbaijan)
Author: T. Tushiev

For conducting international chess tournament on the occupied
territory of Azerbaijan and will convene its extraordinary
presidential council in Baku

“In case of Armenia’s conducting international chess tournament on the
territory of Mountainous Karabagh, World Chess Federation (FIDE) will
certainly apply sanctions against this country. The type of the
sanctions to be applied will be determined by us in the near future’,
FIDE Vice-president, Co-chairman of Georgian Chess Federation, Zurab
Azmayparashvilli stated in his exclusive interview to `Echo’
commenting on the plans by the Armenian side to conduct a sport event
on the occupied territory. In his opinion, if the international
tournament in Khankendi nevertheless takes place, FIDE will accept the
suggestion of the Azerbaijani side `about conducting in Baku FIDE
extraordinary presidential council whose agenda will include the issue
of preventing similar incidents’.

Previously, our newspaper already reported that according to the
information provided by Armenian media, `Mountainous Karabagh (MKR)
government’ and President of Yerevan Chess Academy, Smbat Lputian
intend to conduct in Khankendi international tournament of 13-degree
complexity devoted to 75th anniversary of Tigran Petrosian, 9-times
world champion. Initially it was reported that the participation of
strongest chess players from a number of countries is planned. Later
it became known that chess players from Georgia, Iran, Switzerland and
Latvia really intend to participate in the Khankendi event. The
organizers of the competition also invited as a commenter 10-times
world champion, Boris Spassky who in 1996 deprived the Armenian gross
master of the universe best chess player title. At present Spassky
lives and works in France.

`I found out about possible conducting of the tournament only on March
3′, Azmayparashvilli says, `I was extremely interested in this
information since organizing an international tournament on the
occupied territory of Azerbaijan cannot be accepted by FIDE, and the
latter will not consider this competition as an international
tournament. We have already informed FIDE President Kirsan
Ilyumjinov. I am sure heads of the federation are unanimous with the
position of Azerbaijani side’.

FIDE Vice-president stated that international federation never
interfered in politics, `since all chess players should always be
beyond politics’. Each national federation has a right to conduct a
competition on the territory of its own state. In the current
situation, Azerbaijan has not informed FIDE about conducting a
tournament on its territory, whereas it is common knowledge that
Mountainous Karabagh is an integral part of Azerbaijan’.

Azmayparashvilli stated that FIDE is really concerned over possible
organization of a tournament. `At present we are clarifying the
details. On March 3 representatives of the Armenian Federation tried
to contact me. Today (yesterday – T. T.) I will try to contact them to
make clear the position of FIDE on this issue. Certainly, we cannot
prohibit Mountainous Karabagh to conduct any competitions on its
territory but these events cannot be granted international status’.

According to Azmayparashvilli, in case of conducting the tournament,
FIDE will not accept the results of this competition, that is, the
tournament participants will not be able to get rating scores. It
means that their participation in the tournament will prove
useless. `If Armenia’s participation in organizing the tournament is
confirmed, FIDE will immediately apply sanctions against this

FIDE Vice-president also commented on possible participation of
Georgian chess players in the Khankendi tournament, in particular one
of the strongest young chess players of Georgia, Bakhadura Jobava. `He
is a young chess player, absolutely far from politics and does not
have any idea of the current political situation in the region’, Zurab
Azmayparashvilli holds, `When heads of Georgian Chess Federation were
notified of his participation, we immediately contacted the chess
player and strongly recommended not to visit Khankendi. Otherwise, the
Georgian Federation promised to apply sanctions against him. I think
Jovaba will make the right decision’.

In his turn, President of Azerbaijani Chess Federation, Milli Mejlis
deputy Aynur Sofieva noted to `Echo’ that our country has already
taken certain measures on preventing organization of this
competition. `Today (yesterday – T.T.) we sent out notes of protest to
chess federations of those countries whose sportsmen intend to
participate in this tournament’, Sofieva stated. `Besides, we intend
to turn to the heads of French Chess Federation and request to keep a
reputable person like Boris Spassky, 10-times world champion far from
this venture’.

According to the head of Federation, FIDE’s authorization is required
for conducting international tournament in any country. `I may assert
that FIDE will never grant authorization for conducting a similar
competition on the territory of an unrecognized entity like `MKR’,
Aynur Sofieva said. `I am confident no international tournament will
be conducted in Khankendi but even if it takes place, we will not
tolerate it, filing a protest to FIDE. FIDE will inevitably apply
sanctions against Armenia afterwards.

Sofieva is confident that FIDE will also consider the 13-degree
complexity factor of the tournament. If a tournament of such high
level of complexity was conducted somewhere we would be notified
beforehand’, Aynur Sofieva said. `FIDE itself is not aware of this
tournament, and it is not organized under the aegis of this
organization. 13th category is a myth spread by Armenia to attract

The statements by the head of our Federation and FIDE Vice-president
were also confirmed by Vice-president of national chess federation,
Fayik Gasanov, who is at the super tournament in Linares (Spain) these
days as an assistant of chief arbiter. `We were notified that Armenian
Federation concealed the fact of conducting this tournament from
FIDE. As soon as international federation found out about it, the
response came out immediately’, Fayik Gasanov stated in the phone
conversation with `Echo’. `In case of holding international tournament
in Khankendi, we intend to convene extraordinary session of FIDE
presidential council at which we will discuss possible options of
preventing future attempts of the Armenian side to conduct any chess
events on the Mountainous Karabagh territory. Previously FIDE
repeatedly turned to us with a proposal to convene in our capital
presidential council of international federation. At present, the time
has come to put an end to illegal actions by Armenia’. According to
the head of press service of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and
Tourism, Ragif Abbasov, FIDE charter stipulates that any international
chess tournament, and 13-degree complexity in particular, should be
included in the official calendar. `This tournament is not included in
FIDE calendar since this tournament is not official and the
participation of foreign chess players may only have a private
status’, Abbasov holds. `It is not for the first time that Armenia
tries to conduct a similar competition on the occupied territories of
Azerbaijan. As a result, Armenians will just force international
organizations to apply sanctions against them’.

`One should not trust the information about conducting the so-called
international tournament in `MKR’, head of press service of Foreign
Affairs Ministry, Merin Mirza declared to `Echo’. `It is essential to
find out in what category will foreign chess players participate in
the tournament. I am confident that their participation will be of
private nature, which means they will not represent the countries of
their residence. In case their participation is of official nature,
MFA response will be immediate and appropriate. In the first place, we
will apply to the governments of those countries who have
sportsmen-participants in the tournament and afterwards will file a
protest to international organizations’, head of MFA press service

Yerevan Press Club of Armenia, ‘Yeni Nesil’ Journalists’ Union of
Azerbaijan and Association of Diplomacy Correspondents of Turkey
present ‘Armenia-Azerbaijan-Turkey: Journalist Initiative-2002’
Project. As a part of the project web site has
been designed, featuring the most interesting publications from the
press of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey on issues of mutual
concern. The latest updates on the site are weekly delivered to the

Georgia introduces two-language ballot papers for ethnic minorities

Kavkasia-Press news agency, Tbilisi, in Georgian
11 Mar 04

Georgia introduces two-language ballot papers for ethnic minorities

Tbilisi, 11 March: Voters living in the Kvemo Kartli and
Samtskhe-Javakheti Regions [largely populated, respectively, by
ethnic Azeris and Armenians] will be provided with two-language
ballot papers [in the 28 March parliamentary election], Georgia’s
Central Electoral Commission [CEC] Chairman Zurab Chiaberashvili said
at the commission’s meeting today.

Chiaberashvili said that the ballot papers will be published in the
Georgian and Azeri languages in the Kvemo Kartli Region and in the
Georgian and Armenian languages in the Samtskhe-Javakheti Region.

The CEC plans to publish 3m ballot papers for the entire country.

Also today, the CEC approved a sample ballot paper which lists
political parties and blocs participating in the elections. Names of
four of the [19] registered parties and blocs will now be listed in a
slightly revised form, as follows:

[No. 1] Socialist Party of Georgia – as “Socialist Party”;

[No. 5] Saakashvili – National Movement – as “National

[No. 11] Motherland bloc – as “Motherland”; and

[No. 18] Freedom political movement – as “Freedom political movement
– Konstantine Z. Gamsakhurdia”.

These parties had themselves petitioned the CEC to change their

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in Armenia

A1 Plus | 21:31:13 | 12-03-2004 | Politics |


On Friday, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili arrived for a two-day
visit in Yerevan at Armenian President Robert Kocharyan’s invitation.

The Presidents of Armenia and Georgia expressed satisfaction with the fact
that, during the visit, they exchanged the ratification documents of the
October 23, 2001 Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Security
between the Republic of Armenia and Georgia. They reiterated Armenia’s and
Georgia’s desire to give a new impetus to the further development of
extensive cooperation and friendly relations based on mutual respect for
each other’s interests.

Taking into consideration the obligation to address various modern
challenges and threats, such as international terrorism, organized crime,
weapons and drugs trafficking, the parties noted the need for increasing the
effectiveness of bilateral and multilateral cooperation and coordinating the
joint efforts in those areas.

Georgian President expressed his gratitude to the Armenian side for the
constructive dialogue and hospitality, and invited the President of the
Republic of Armenia to pay an official visit to Georgia at any convenient

Mikhail Sahakashvili also met with Armenian Prime Minister Andranik

Armenian leader favours reopening of railway via Georgia’s Abkhazia

Armenian leader favours reopening of railway via Georgia’s Abkhazia

Mediamax news agency
12 Mar 04


Armenian President Robert Kocharyan spoke in favour of making
“strenuous efforts” to resume railway communications via Abkhazia.

Speaking at a briefing in Yerevan today, Robert Kocharyan said that a
resumption of railway communications via this route was “of benefit to
everyone – Georgia, Abkhazia, Armenia and Russia”, Mediamax news
agency reports.

The Armenian president said that in order to tackle this issue, one
should display the will and overcome the peculiar “custom, when any
attempt to upset the existing status quo threatens to cause fresh
internal problems”. At the same time, Kocharyan said that Armenia
understands Georgia’s position on this issue.

President Mikheil Saakashvili said that the resumption of the railway
communications via the Abkhaz section should take place in parallel
with the return of Georgian refugees to Abkhazia, particularly to Gali
District. The Georgian leader said that official Tbilisi was ready for
“more decisive steps to find a peaceful solution to this conflict and
to the problem of resuming regional transport communications”.