Armenian DM denies joint Russian army drills target Georgia

Armenian defence chief denies joint Russian army drills target Georgia

Mediamax news agency
27 Aug 04

YEREVAN

Armenian Defence Minister Serzh Sarkisyan said today that participants
in joint Armenian-Russian military exercises had completely fulfilled
the tasks set before them.

The Armenian defence minister described as “exaggeration” media
reports suggesting that the Armenian-Russian military exercises were
intended to put psychological pressure on Georgia.

“As far as I know, the Georgian side has not issued any statements
saying that Armenia was planning something against Georgia. The
exercises were a planned measure and did not pursue any other
objectives. We have conducted such exercises nine times,” Serzh
Sarkisyan said.

The final stage of the four-day joint Armenian-Russian exercises
involving field firing was held in Armenia today at the Marshal
Bagramyan training centre.

Armenia, Danish officials discuss expanding cooperation

Armenia, Danish officials discuss expanding cooperation

Mediamax news agency
27 Aug 04

YEREVAN

The implementation of the European Neighbourhood policy will give a
new impetus to the settlement of the Nagornyy Karabakh and other
conflicts in the South Caucasus, Armenian Prime Minister Andranik
Markaryan said in Yerevan today during a meeting with Danish Foreign
Minister Per Stig Moeller.

The government’s press service told Mediamax news agency that the
prime minister said during the meeting that the expansion of Armenia’s
relations with the European Union will promote the development of
Armenian-Danish relations.

Andranik Markaryan said that Armenia and Denmark could cooperate
successfully in the energy sphere, specifically, exchange experience
in creating alternative energy sources.

Armenia to host NATO exercises in 2006

Armenia to host NATO exercises in 2006

Mediamax news agency
27 Aug 04

YEREVAN

Armenian Defence Minister Serzh Sarkisyan said today that “most likely
Armenia will not host exercises within the framework of NATO’s
Partnership for Peace programme in 2005”.

Serzh Sarkisyan said that “to all appearances, we shall start
preparations in order to host exercises on our territory in 2006”.

Addressing the Summit of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in
Istanbul on 29 June, Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan said
that Armenia offered NATO to host Cooperative Partner 2005 military
exercises within the framework of the Partnership for Peace programme.

BAKU: Azeri campaigner slams Iran for ties with separatist Karabakh

Azeri campaigner slams Iran for ties with separatist Karabakh

Ekspress, Baku
27 Aug 04

Text of Alakbar Raufoglu’s report by Azerbaijani newspaper Ekspress on
27 August headlined “Iran regards Karabakh as its own province” and
subheaded “Cahandar Bayoglu: A document signed between Ardabil
Province and Karabakh separatists describes Nagornyy Karabakh as the
‘Artsakh state'”

Tehran’s interest in increasing investment in Nagornyy Karabakh stands
behind Iranian-Armenian talks, the chairman of the committee to
protect the rights of the [NRMSA] National Revival Movement of
Southern Azerbaijan [northwestern Iran], Cahandar Bayoglu, told
Ekspress yesterday commenting on Iranian President Mohammad Khatami’s
scheduled visit to Armenia in September.

He said that official Tehran suggested that Armenian businessmen
expand activities in Southern Azerbaijan in exchange for assistance by
Persian businessmen to Nagornyy Karabakh.

The chairman of the committee said that an “economic cooperation
accord” consisting of 30 points had been signed between the so-called
Nagornyy Karabakh republic [NKR] and Ardabil governor-general’s office
during the visit by so-called NKR economists to Ardabil a short time
ago. The document describes Karabakh as the “Artsakh state”. This
shows that Tehran is insincere in its statements that it supports
Azerbaijan in the Karabakh settlement, the chairman of the committee
said.

Iran obviously regards Karabakh as its province and continues to cast
doubt on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Therefore, the committee
to protect the rights of the NRMSA calls on the Azerbaijani government
to demand an explanation of this from official Tehran in the run-up to
the Iranian president’s visit to Armenia.

To recap, the visit of “Karabakh economists” to Ardabil last month was
accompanied by mass protest actions in Southern Azerbaijan. In an
interview with Ekspress during his visit to Baku, the governor of
Western Azerbaijan, Nariman Sobhan-Elahi, described his country’s
cooperation with Karabakh Armenians as a normal issue that caused no
problems.

The Iranian embassy in Baku has no information about the signing of
any agreement between Ardabil Province and the Karabakh separatists.

“We know nothing about this,” the embassy told Ekspress.

Incidentally, Azerbaijanis living in Sweden are concerned about
Iranian President Khatami’s unexpected visit to Armenia.

“We condemn this visit. A total of 30m Turks living in Southern
Azerbaijan see this step by Khatami as a gesture of disrespect,” a
statement by the Azerbaijani Federation – Swedish Committee sent to
Ekspress says.

The organization has sent a letter to the Iranian president protesting
against the visit.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

BAKU: Daily Slams Govmt for Lagging Behind Armenia in Army Building

Azeri daily slams authorities for lagging behind Armenia in army building

Azadliq, Baku
27 Aug 04

Armenia is building up its military might and has increased defence
spending from the state budget by 10 per cent as against 2003. Armenia
occupies the first rank in terms of military spending among the CIS
[Commonwealth of Independent States] countries.

Armenia will soon purchase 10 SU-25 fighters from Slovakia. Before
this procurement of military hardware, it purchased two IL-76 military
transport planes from Russia and contracts were signed with Belarus to
purchase weapons, armoured hardware, ammunition and rifles with
telescopic sight.

Greek’s Athens military and military-medical academies will increase
the quota of Armenian officers, and Washington will give another 7m
dollars in aid to Armenia, in addition to 5m dollars, to upgrade the
army’s communication system. All these prove the [Armenian President
Robert] Kocharyan government’s performance in the military field.

We wonder what is [Azerbaijani President] Ilham Aliyev’s government
doing? It is planning to join a single economic zone with Russia and
Belarus which actually provide Armenia with military aid. He gave a
red carpet treatment to the Greek president, whose country is training
more and more Armenian officers, and saw him off without getting a
guarantee of any profit.

He has given up Washington to embrace Europe where is also Slovakia,
and at best, he could purchase passenger planes from them. And this is
occurring when our passenger planes have been impounded by [the
Turkish Saka Korkmaz] company due to the notorious debt.

[Passage omitted: quotes from various agencies and military magazines]

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

BAKU: Azeri TV on possible threats to Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline

Azeri TV on possible threats to Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline

ANS TV, Baku
26 Aug 04

[Presenter] Ensuring the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan [BTC] oil
pipeline is becoming more important, as the date for its commissioning
approaches.

[Correspondent over video of Baku and pipeline construction sites] The
staff and command exercises of the Azerbaijani, Georgian and Turkish
military are under way in Baku. The exercises that will last until 27
August are related to ensuring the security of the BTC pipeline. The
existence of the forces that do not want the BTC pipeline and the fact
that these forces become active from time to time necessitate serious
measures for the security of the pipeline. Taking into consideration
that most of the work on the BTC construction has been completed and
the pipeline will be commissioned soon, one may suppose that the
forces opposing the pipeline might become more active. Some experts
say that there can be various threats to the BTC pipeline. For
example, one of these threats are possible acts of terror and sabotage
on the pipeline. If we look at the route of the oil pipeline, we can
see that the pipeline is not fully insured against danger.

In Azerbaijan these threats can be in the areas close to Armenia and
to the occupied lands where the pipeline traverses. The expected
threats in Georgia may also come from Armenians. The fact that the
pipeline stretches along the areas densely populated by ethnic
Armenians and the negative attitude of the ethnic Armenian population
in those areas to the pipeline leave no doubt about it.

The forces who want to disrupt the project are realizing their
intention in the form of protests against the construction. The
Prosecutor-General’s Office in Borjomi [Georgia] has brought to book a
group of ethnic Armenians living in the village of Tabatsquri, who
attempted last week to prevent the construction of the part of the
pipeline that goes through that area. The inhabitants of this village
have held three protest actions over the past month, demanding that
the construction of the pipeline be halted.

The third source of danger in the territory where the pipeline is laid
are the activities of the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] in Turkey,
especially, the PKK’s statement that it will start terrorist acts
again makes one think more seriously about the security of the
pipeline.

But the most serious threat to the BTC pipeline still remains Armenia
and its aggressive policy. Thus, it is necessary that not only the
parties to the security protocol [signed between Azerbaijan, Georgia
and Turkey in July 2003], but also all the countries interested in the
pipeline should curb this source of danger before early oil starts to
flow in the summer of 2005.

On 27 April 2002, Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev, Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze and Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer
signed a document on fighting terrorism, organized crime and other
grave crimes. The present exercises are being conducted on the basis
of that document.

Rasad Isgandarov for ANS.

BAKU: Azeri politicians divided over possible US troop deployment

Azeri politicians divided over possible US troop deployment

Ekho, Baku
27 Aug 04

The setting up of US military bases in Azerbaijan has appeared on the
agenda again recently. The unexpected visit of US Defence Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld to Azerbaijan has brought this issue under the media
spotlight.

Moscow hopes that Washington will not set up its bases in the Baltic
countries and the Caucasus, said a statement by the Russian Foreign
Ministry in connection with the US plans to reassign its troops in
Europe (Turan news agency). As for the military bases established in
Central Asia, Moscow hopes that they will be closed as soon as the
antiterror operations in Afghanistan are over.

The deputy chairman of the PFAP [the People’s Front of Azerbaijan
Party (reformists)] on international affairs, [MP] Asim Mollazada,
said that at issue was not the deployment of troops but rather the
development of ties between Azerbaijan and the USA. Mollazada notes
that strategic partnership is being observed between Baku and
Washington in security issues, however, “it is necessary to reach a
strategic alliance”. There are all prerequisites for this, Mollazada
thinks.

The security of the region is a priority for all the South Caucasus
countries. In any case, Mollazada thinks, the USA will do its best to
maintain stability in the region. He said that mobile detachments
could be brought into the region to ensure the security of joint
projects. However, what is more important is the resolution of
political issues – “deployment of mobile units is a purely technical
matter”.

“We want solely Azerbaijani forces on the territory of our country,”
the deputy chairman of the Azarbaycan Milli Istiqlal Party [AMIP],
Maharram Zulfuqarli, told Ekho. He said that the issue of deployment
of US troops in Azerbaijan was being whipped up. They are allegedly to
ensure the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. The AMIP
official thinks that this function should be accomplished exclusively
by Azerbaijani troops. “We did not drive the Russian troops out of the
country in 1992 to replace them with any other foreign units.”

“Negotiations to this effect are actually under way. And the USA
wishes to deploy its military contingent in Azerbaijan,” the deputy
chairman of the Musavat Party, Sulhaddin Akbar, said. According to his
information, the authorities have not so far consented to this. At the
same time, Akbar believes that Azerbaijan should soon file for NATO
membership. “This could give us more advantages both in the military
and political spheres.”

The co-chairman of the Azerbaijani Social Democratic Party, Zardust
Alizada, is flatly against the deployment of any foreign troops in
Azerbaijan. He said that our country should adhere to
neutrality. According to Alizada, the “pro-NATO” fight for the
deployment of foreign troops here “is a grave mistake”. Those
soldiers will protect the interests of the USA, and the USA has always
backed Armenia’s interests.

Alizada also pointed at the USA’s desire to “unleash aggression
against Iran”. “This could lead to a fratricidal war as many
Azerbaijanis live in Iran.”

[Passage omitted: another similar opinion by Aydin Quliyev]

Gular Ahmadova, MP from the [ruling] New Azerbaijan Party, said that
Azerbaijan was in the US-led antiterror coalition. Moreover,
Azerbaijan fully backs cooperation with NATO. “The country’s
leadership also fully supports integration into the Euro-Atlantic
structures.” At the same time, the MP believes that the idea of
deployment of US troops is “populist”. “The country’s cooperation with
NATO is a completely different matter,” Ahmadova said.

Armenian FM meets Black Sea bloc rep, discusses projects

Armenian foreign minister meets Black Sea bloc rep, discusses projects

Public Television of Armenia
26 Aug 04

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan has received Valeriy
Chechelashvili, secretary-general of the standing international
secretariat of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization.

The secretary-general told the minister about the activities of his
organization mainly aimed at reinforcing and raising its authority
worldwide. The organization set up a development foundation to invest
in important programmes through it.

At the end, Chechelashvili said that he will be transferred to another
post in the near future. Chechelashvili will be Georgia’s ambassador
plenipotentiary and extraordinary to Russia.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Andre: I Have Received No Prize In Armenia

“I HAVE RECEIVED NO PRIZE IN ARMENIA,” SAYS SINGER AWARDED WITH PRIZES
IN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVALS

YEREVAN, August 27 (Noyan Tapan). Armenian singer Andre was awarded
with the “World Champion – 2004” diploma during the “World Art
Performance” international competition-festival held in the United
Stated on August 7-14. He performed Latin, pop, sacred and gusan songs
at the festival and was awarded with a gold medal for the performance
of the first three and with a silver medal for gusan songs. But Karine
Sukiasian, producer of the singer who participated in eight
international festivals and returned with prizes from these festivals,
said during the August 27 press conference that Andre wasn’t honored
with other attention besides the congratulations of his relatives and
friends. The sum necessary for participation in the last festival was
searched by his relatives. “I have received no prize in Armenia up to
day, meanwhile I represented Armenia on the international scene for
many times,” stressed the singer. According to him, he received a
proposal to represent another country at the international festival,
but he refused from this proposal. It was also mentioned that after
the festival held in the United States Andre received a proposal of
cooperation from world-famed producer Mike Jho, but the program of
further cooperation hasn’t been specified yet.

FM: NATO & Euro Countries should encourage Turkey to Normalize ties

VARTAN OSKANIAN STATES THAT COUNTRIES-MEMBERS OF NATO AND EUROPEAN
UNION SHOULD ENCOURAGE TURKEY TO NORMALIZE RELATIONS WITH ARMENIA

YEREVAN, August 27 (Noyan Tapan). “Every country-member of NATO and
the European Union, including Denmark, should encourage Turkey to
normalize the relations with Armenia.” RA Minister of Foreign Affairs
Vartan Oskanian said about it during a press conference held after the
meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark Per Stig Moller on
August 27. The Minister said that Armenia advances no preconditions in
the establishment of relations with Turkey and expects the same from
the Turkish side. The RA Minister of Foreign Affairs attached
importance to the improvement of the Armenian-Turkish relations that
“Turkey is the only country in the region that has closer prospect in
the issue of the integration into Europe, and it is also the only
country-member of NATO with which the three South Caucasian republics
have the same borders.”